Swindon's Platform Project has new chairman

By Barrie Hudson - 5 October 2020


Entrepreneur James Phipps has been named chairman of Swindon youth development firm The Platform Project. 

  • James Phipps says he is both humbled and excited by his new role

    James Phipps says he is both humbled and excited by his new role

The businessman has been involved as a non-executive director for 12 months and aims to support continued growth, community and business engagement. 

He said: “Having spent the last year working closely with the team and seeing the huge difference the Platform Project has made to young people, I was both humbled and excited when asked to become chairman. 

"We have a hugely talented and passionate board and we aim to continue the significant growth so we can help as many young people as we can have a chance to make the best of the opportunities ahead of them.”

James was asked to take on the role as chairman by the project’s founder, Sadie Sharp.

She said: “I’m delighted James has accepted this role to help us grow and develop even further as an organisation. Our choice to operate as a Community Interest Company rather than a charity has helped us really embrace commercial thinking and scalable practices, and now we earn almost half of our income from our sold services, which has inevitably led to our self-funded growth and further expansion plans. 

"But this has been reliant upon us having the right business savvy people in the right roles, and James’ entrepreneurial and charitable experiences are a perfect fit for our vision and goals.

“We’ve recently been awarded a grant of £36,500 from the Social Enterprise Support Fund to help more young people improve their employability prospects, which is even more critical at this time, so we are so fortunate to have James in the role of chair to help steer us towards a sustainable yet rapid expansion.”

The Platform Project currently runs a number of small trading youth-led businesses which will be increasing their number of sessions to provide a more full-time development option for young people needing additional help to transition into employment or enterprise. 

These opportunities, it says, all develop CV-credible experiences, confidence and hands-on skills in a 'training workplace' including: 

- a youth magazine

- a printed goods business

- a digital media marketing agency 

- a creative careers start up service 

Sadie said: “We’ve supported around 50 young people this year and are now in a fortunate position to be able to rapidly scale up to meet the ever increasing youth unemployment needs."

She added that the organisation's key strategic activities were now to:

-Broaden the range and frequency of youth-led business sessions to help more young people become more work-ready, secure work and launch their own enterprises 

- Expand its alternative education service to schools and colleges to help more students learn how they can work for themselves if the job market doesn’t present many options

- Establish its model as a social franchise and launch it in other places in the UK, helping more young people level the playing field by learning how to work for themselves and run a business.

The Platform Project has just celebrated its third birthday and, since starting as a volunteer-led organisation, has tripled in size each year, with its income now at around £70,000. 

Its website is www.platformproject.co.uk

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