In 2004 S.I.D.E Project founder, Rebecca Hatchett worked with Southwark College to establish their new Enterprise Unit – an innovative new division which aimed to encourage local enterprise, community engagement and civic integration.
As well as supporting the college’s Director of Development to raise funding for the initiative, Rebecca was commissioned to run Celebrating Enterprise – an ESF funded consortium project led by City University London. Celebrating Enterprise sought to explore how community-based festivals and events can help individuals and small-medium enterprises find employment and develop as businesses.
Prior to Rebecca’s involvement Southwark College delivered a range of off-the-shelf courses in food hygiene, security, and ESOL.
Although these courses did attract some participants, the consortium did not feel this was a sufficient offer under the aims of the wider initiative.
Rebecca was recruited part way into the programme and given instruction to experiment with some more innovative offerings to better meet local needs and project aims.
Following a period of consultation with stakeholders and local community groups, Rebecca devised a totally new programme of activity, specifically aimed at local groups interested in, or already engaged with, carnival arts and events. Translators were made available, industry experts were recruited and some of the courses were run in Spanish to encourage participation.
Under Rebecca’s management the college went on to run two 12-week programmes, offering courses in:
- Setting up a Small Business
- Carnival Float Design
- Costume Making
- Music Production
- Colombian Folkloric dance
- Market trading
- Running community groups
- Carnival face painting
- Making musical instruments
- Samba – with London School of Samba
Each 12-week programme culminated in an event, designed to emulate a mini festival. These occasions gave the learners an opportunity to assist with organising an event, trial their business ideas and showcase their work to friends and family. As well as the exhibition and live music performances, there were certificate ceremonies, opportunities for networking and recruitment for oncoming programmes.
The target community we not always easy to reach, so Rebecca worked closely with Celebrating Enterprise partners and stakeholders to develop a successful outreach marketing campaign. This involved setting up a database of partners and external agencies through which to advertise, a series of press releases and advertisements in the local and ethnic press such as Noticias Latin America, posters in local areas, and direct marketing by handing out flyers in both English and Spanish in the streets.
The courses were well-received: one student on the Setting up a Small Business course commented, ‘I have done a business degree before, but I have got so much more out of this course.’
The recruitment campaign was aided by the success of the first round of courses, and by the second round, run from February to June 2007, enrolment figures were up and targets were easily met; with 174 students enrolled (with a target of 124) and the retention rate was also good.
The overall experience was also regarded as a very positive for the college; The opportunity to build robust relationships with Southwark Council and other stakeholders was welcomed, as was making contact with local groups and being involved in local events. All of these outcomes were in line with the college’s aims to be a true community education centre.
Following the success of Celebrating Enterprise, the college went on to be involved in other local festivals, such as the Burgess Park Festival, Carnival de Independencias and the Mayor’s Thames Festival.
Chris Avis, Previously Director of Development, Southwark College said:
As Director of Development at Southwark College I was involved with the initial employment of Rebecca into one of the most innovative areas of the College. She impressed me from the start with her attitude to managing difficult situations and her commitment to the students, who came from very deprived parts of London. She demonstrated an ability to problem solve, work independently at outreach centres and deliver targets to a time scale from the outset of her employment at the College.
Rebecca spent several years in one of the College’s community out-reach centres, where we delivered training and support to people considered hard to reach or at risk of isolation from society. She proved herself to be an effective, with a remarkable capacity to attract and retain new learners and referral partners.
I decided to recruit Rebecca into the main College campus, as her strengths suited funded project management. Over the next five years she grew from strength to strength, able to take new initiatives from a place of conception to completion, her positive attitude and personable nature made her a valued team member and reliable consultant. Rebecca offered a diverse and very creative skills set, she worked to generate new ideas, develop and foster relationships within the community, manage, market and successfully deliver a wide range of new initiatives, such as ‘Celebrating Enterprise’.
In 2006 I became Deputy Principal Learning and Enterprise at the College, but I still followed Rebecca’s career with interest. She is driven by social and cultural innovation and is committed to advocating, facilitating and building solutions to support and engage diverse communities. Her commitment is underpinned with a natural talent for inspiring and managing others, and an aptitude for brokering new networks.
I retired from the College in 2009 but I know from colleagues that she has continued to develop her skills and management experience in the area of community outreach and project innovation.