Introducing our new team member

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Razali Samsudin, our newly appointed Programme Coordinator in the South East shares his thoughts on his first week at Solutions for the Planet…

Walking from Waterloo station, through the hustle and bustle of London’s Monday morning crowd, I made my way to Southbank centre, my new office away from home, where I would be meeting Jen for my first day of work! We met under the bright, hot sun, and made our way up to the Southbank Centre’s 6th floor members area.

Amid the backdrop of the wonderful views of the river Thames and the London Eye, Jen began by offering me my induction pack and making sure I was well rested and asked if I had any questions. It was a very relaxed and interactive morning, and she told me that we would be going to our scheduled appointment with our business partners Tarmac and SGN, in Tarmac’s impressive office near Charing Cross station at 12pm.

Once at Tarmac’s office, we were welcomed into their meeting room, and we all introduced ourselves. I shared how I felt that having recently graduated from Imperial College with a Masters in Environmental Technology, this role seemed perfect for me in terms of joining a social enterprise with a vision and mission that I strongly believe in. It was very useful and inspiring to see how motivated and interested in the programme the partners all were, and the feedback given to us by the partners was particularly insightful, especially the thoughts of the young beneficiaries.

Following a fruitful meeting, Jen and I made our way back to the Southbank Centre, but along the way we checked into the dressing rooms of the Kinky Boots London Show at the Adelphi Theatre! Jamie, Jen’s brother, is an actor in the show, and was also holding onto two big Solutions for the Planet banners! We enjoyed a cool glass of water on a hot summers day and shared stories on life in London, and the perils of moving into a flat! After the quick pit stop, Jen and I made our way onwards to the Southbank, and went through the induction checklist covering matters such as health and safety and working conditions. All of my questions were patiently listened to and answered with compassion, and we agreed that I could go through the pack in the evening in preparation for the 2nd day of induction the next day.

That Monday evening, I read the development plan with great excitement as I learnt more about the amazing achievements that the team at Solutions have helped the businesses, schools and young people accomplish! Come Tuesday morning, I was back at the Southbank centre. I was introduced to Chloe, a consultant coordinating the project to create new website. Having looked at the audience mapping, it felt great to be involved so early on in my role, and to be able to contribute my thoughts as to how the site design looked.

Following Chloe’s meeting with us, Jen continued to go through the necessary introductory requirements to the role and made sure I fully understood my duties and responsibilities, and no question that I had was made to feel like a silly one! By the end of our agreed time together, I gratefully accepted my new role and was welcomed into the team with a hug and a selfie that was posted onto Twitter!

The rest of my week was spent working from home, where I put together my plan for the coming weeks, and busied myself with learning more about Solutions for the Planet and its media activity. On Friday, I was advised by Jen to have a look at some websites on Social Enterprise, and I wrote a short passage on ‘what social enterprise means to me?’ It was a particularly useful exercise in helping me to crystallise my understanding of where I actually work and my new sector, and what it is that makes a social enterprise different from a typical business.

Before I knew it, the first working week was drawing to a close. To have had such a warm and welcoming first week, involved with actions and activities of the team so early on is much appreciated. It definitely confirmed my thoughts that joining this close knit team as a Programme Coordinator for Solutions for the Planet would be a decision I wouldn’t regret, and I am enjoying every minute learning and working with such experienced, inspirational and motivated colleagues.


ThermoField team Do It For Real

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“ThermoField is a company based on induction technology.  The technology works by having two magnets; one being an electro magnet. When turned on, a magnetic field is created which moves atoms in the magnet above, to create heat. This heat can be used to cook, to heat water and for any other thing that requires heat. The design we are working on relies on electricity and therefore we will be utilizing solar power for this.  This will keep our design safe for the consumer and for the environment.”

Summary: Many people rely on gas stoves when they go camping, which is not only bad for the environment but also bad for their health. ThermoField’s product will save users time and money as they won’t need to buy gas canisters or other environmentally harmful fuels. The team are designing a portable induction hob that will be able to charge its batteries on solar panels installed at camp sites. The team haven’t limited themselves to UK markets; after success in the UK they hope to expand abroad, helping governments and charities reach those in isolated and deprived areas. The team understand that the first thing they must do before all of this, is design and build a working prototype. After coming third in the competition final, the team have already been in talks with University professors and SOLEC, a solar energy company, taking them one step closer to realising their dream.

School: Dixon City Academy, Bradford

Region: Yorkshire

Impact: National, International

Issues: Sustainable energy, Environment, CO Poisoning


Goodbye Michael… Our amazing Intern 2016

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My name is Michael Atkins and I have just spent the last 10 weeks interning at Solutions for the Planet. I am going into my final year of an Economics and Management (International) degree at the University of Leeds and am so grateful to have been given this opportunity.

I was in Australia just finishing up a study abroad year when I saw the Do It For Real Project Officer position on a Leeds University career website.  Having experience as a teaching assistant, studying social enterprises and a keen interest in sustainability I sent off my application immediately. Two skype interviews, a 24-hour flight and a car journey later I found myself starting the role of intern at Solutions for the Planet on the 28th of June.

The Do It For Real Awards (delivered through Solutions for the Planet) provide young social entrepreneurs with the opportunity to apply for a cash grant up to £500 and a fixed support package to help test out or set up their social venture. Based in an office in Leeds I made frequent trips to schools in Bradford to help teams through the application process and provided continued support after being awarded.

After making clear delivery plans with each team, detailing the support required once they have been awarded, I looked at how to track and review progress of different types of support provided. I thoroughly enjoyed doing research for the teams on what was achievable and carefully considering the best approach and strategy to each challenge.

Having the London Final at the Palace of Westminster so early on in my internship allowed me to see the great enthusiasm held by not only the young people but the business partners and MPs too. The day gave me insight into how hard the teams had worked to get to where they are and I felt proud to be part of the S4TP team.

Jen Baughan and Kathryn Luckock were so welcoming, making me feel part of the team, constantly asking if I thought the programme could be run in a better or differently. They were really genuinely concerned for my learning experience and personal development. When I mentioned I wanted to understand more about the business partner side of the company, they were only too happy to invite me to an annual business partner review meeting in Birmingham and make time to explain further any aspects of the company that I was interested in.

Perhaps the thing I enjoyed most about my time at S4TP was working for a small social enterprise where you know every bit of work you do has meaning and the chance to make big impacts on local communities. From learning about social enterprises and business plan development in lectures it has been a delight to work on real projects. The internship has really allowed me to grow and I will be able to take not only new skills and experiences but key values forward in my career.


Tea 4 U team Do It For Real

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“We want to put smiles back on the faces of our community and we genuinely believe our project can help our community be happy. Every person is struggling with their own issues and being able to have an escape to this is very important. Our tea and biscuits can provide an escape to everyone in our community from their issues and put a smile on their faces. T4U is very simple but extremely powerful – we want to spread happiness and joy through tea and biscuits.”

Tea 4 U is a community engagement project based in Bradford. It aims to bring different parts of the community together with pop up tea tents. The team wants to put a smile on people’s faces in their community by not only providing just tea and biscuits but a platform for individuals to come together for discussion. By holding their events in mosques, churches, parks and community centres Tea 4 U want to attract all members of the community. The idea has support from the general public having successfully run one pop up stand in the city centre already, the team is set to make a sizable impression on Bradford residents.

Award amount: £250

School: Dixon Academy, Bradford

Region: Yorkshire

Impact: Local

Issues: Loneliness, Isolation, Social Cohesion


Vitaliite team Do It For Real

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“Most importantly, with every Vitaliite water bottle you purchase, an amount of the profit is donated to WaterAid where they build a water pump on behalf of Vitalite for the less fortunate. At the bottom of the water bottle, there is a QR code which if scanned, takes you to the Vitaliite website which shows you water facts and has case studies of the people YOU have been helping. This clever and unique concept not only shows you how you have been helping others but also benefits yourself. It is the best of both worlds, we like to call it – the light at the end of the well!”

Summary: Going to schools in East London, the girls that make up the Vitaliite team, are all too familiar with the high numbers of cycling accidents that occur every year in the capital. They have developed a smart and innovative LED flashing sports bottle that will alert other road users of their presence by increasing their visibility. 40% of the profits will be donated to a water charity to build water pumps abroad for those who don’t have access to clean drinking water. Further still, there’s a QR code on the bottom of each water bottle, which can take you to their website with information on the communities you have helped by purchasing their bottle. When they arrived at the Solutions for the Planet national competition in July 2016, they already had 500 pre-orders! The team won first place in the national competition in 2016. After winning the national competition, they went on to successfully apply to Do It For Real.

Award amount: £500

School: Quwwat Ul Islam School, Newham, London

Region: South East

Impact: Regional, International

Issues: Cycling Safety, Community Development, Relieving Poverty, Access to Basic Utilities


Different and Proud team Do It For Real

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“Bullying is a serious problem that needs to be tackled and eradicated. At Different and Proud I’m aiming to raise awareness about bullying.  I think this should be initially focused at primary schools, targeting students at an early age can have a more immediate impact if they understand that this is not acceptable and can ruin lives.  The aim is to get the next generation of children to think and realise that it is a problem. As well as this I want to try persuade schools to look at the curriculum and include materials that will have a positive impact on students but tackling the problems and raising awareness for the cause.  And more importantly providing support for those who are on the receiving end of bullying.”

Summary: Different and Proud is a project centred around boosting the confidence levels of children in primary schools using creative arts. Through a series of interactive workshops including drama, dance, creative writing, music and art, children will confront ideas of bullying and identity. By sharing this experience, the team hopes that children will form strong bonds and lasting friendships with each other. Different and Proud will construct the lesson plans from scratch with help from local teachers and national experts. In 2016 Different and Proud’s potential was recognised when the project made it through to the semi-finals of the competition.

Award amount: £150

School: Dixon City Academy, Bradford

Region: Yorkshire

Impact: Local

Issues: Social Cohesion, Equality, Empowerment, Mental Health


Haiti Creative team Do It For Real

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“The main objective for our campaign is ultimately, to benefit the lives of children in Haiti. We believe that the creative aspect of education that we would bring, could greatly impact their lives. For example, forging a potential career in an ever – expanding industry of creative arts would be near impossible without the work that we are offering.  We believe henceforth, that well-educated children would make a well-educated society. If the children are having fun, it will reflect immensely on the happiness of the community.”

Summary: This team wants to provide the children of Haiti with the chance to experience the creative arts, as it is often excluded from their curriculum. The increase in creative arts will help the children of Haiti improve their self-esteem and instil confidence. Having already teamed up with the charity Hope for Haiti, the team have support in identifying the schools where this project is needed and will receive help in financing their idea. Costa Coffee have also been helping the team by providing food and ingredients for a fundraising bake sale at their school. First, the team want to raise money to send musical instruments to Haiti. Then, the team would like to implement lesson plans with facilitators in schools in Haiti. At the end of their project Haiti Creative will compile a fundraising pack to be used by other schools across the UK who also want to help children in Haiti experience more creative arts workshops. Haiti Creative want to set an example of how it’s possible to fundraise for a cause you believe in.

Award amount: £500

School: Dixon City Academy, Bradford

Region: Yorkshire

Impact: National, International

Issues: Access to Education, Developing Skills, Employability


Volunteer Direct team Do It For Real

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Volunteer Direct is a website to make volunteering opportunities easy to find and specific to individuals’ interests and location. With the launch of their Education Programme in September 2016, 6th form students will be able to find volunteering opportunities online to assist others and enhance their own CV. There is an ever growing demand for volunteers; with over 2000 non-profit organisations in Bradford alone. Many charities are reluctant to provide volunteering opportunities for under 18 year olds, which is why Volunteer Direct will be working closely with the charities to create opportunities that are suitable and attractive to under 18’s. Providing an easily accessible platform where volunteers can help with local or national projects, Volunteer Direct perfectly matches the supply to the demand.

Award amount: £500

School: Dixon City Academy, Bradford

Region: Yorkshire

Impact: Local, Regional, National

Issue: Community Development, Generating Funds for Charities, Developing Skills


DWDH team Do It For Real

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We made a visit to one of our local Primary Schools and spoke to the Deputy Head Teacher. At this meeting we explained our product and asked whether the school thinks they waste water. The Deputy Head agreed and said if we are able to collect solid evidence to prove we were saving the schools money and water. She also, said that she would readily buy our product as well as organize a time for us to speak to the children in her primary School.”

Summary: After learning that only 1% of the worlds water is drinkable and that we waste 95% of that, DWDH began thinking about how they could change this. They want to introduce a programme for schools that will reduce water wastage in three separate and distinctive ways. Firstly, all taps in the school that children use will be fitted with a DWDH dripmeter, allowing schools to track their water usage in real time. Second, the DWDH team holds an assembly in the school explaining the issues surrounding water wastage both here and in third world countries. Lastly, the campaign aims to reach the parents of pupils at schools with leaflets full of useful information encouraging more water savings at home.  There is interest in the project, Thames Water and a local primary school are both keen to see a prototype. With the correct support structure and approach, we expect big things from team DWDH.

School: Plashet school for girls, East Ham

Region: South East

Impact: Regional

Issue: Water wastage


Thermofield, Dixons City Academy, Bradford

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This team came third place at the 2016 competition final. They want to revolutionise gas camping stoves into electromagnetic stoves powered by solar panels. This team have anticipated the advance in technology of solar panels as a means of either charging batteries for stoves to run on, or directly powering the stoves themselves. With an impressive exclusively battery powered electro-magnetic stove they were able to demonstrate the science and wow the judges. Already in talks with Bradford University and the solar panel company, Solec, the team want to have a working prototype while the technology progresses.


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