Swale entrepreneur shares his story and advice to young people
Name: Patrick Cantellow
Job: Social Entrepreneur and MD @SwaleYPeople
Tell us about yourself?
I’m the founder of Swale Young People CIC and hugely passionate about empowering young people. I’m also a digital marketing apprentice.
Tell us about Swale Young People and the inspiration behind it?
Swale Young People is made by young people for young people. We aim to change the lives of local young people by offering amazing opportunities in Kent & London. As Swale is a largely deprived area, we cover all costs associated with these experiences as we find expensive train travel is a barrier for young people. We treat young people like adults, and every decision we make is based upon our Young Ambassadors views.
Swale does not have much to do for young people. Having taking part in NCS and volunteering myself – I realised Swale needed something. A few meetings later we formed a Community Interest Company. We are already fixing the lack of things to do. For 5 years young people have been asking for a skatepark, we successfully put together a board and the local council has accepted the business plan to build a £300,000 park. More info: mill.org.uk
Have you always wanted to be a (social) entrepreneur?
No, in all honesty this came out of nowhere. I made the odd website for some pocket money when I was 12 but I was planning on going to university. I volunteered with the NSPCC for 2 years, this led to so many opportunities including private events in Buckingham Palace to working closely with Ministers and on NSPCC campaigns.
Swale Young People was meant to be a simple survey asking how people in Swale was, but it snowballed into a full blown non-profit!
As an Ambassador for Youth Employment what sort of barriers are you trying to tackle?
Whenever I’m asked this question I always have something different to say. This week my niggle is “stigma”. I was recently talking to some young people about apprenticeships, the first thing one said was “I don’t want to be a plumber”. Young People don’t realise there are excellent apprenticeship routes apart from valuable manual trade careers. Like myself, I’m in digital marketing, and places such as the BBC, Google, and EY offer apprenticeships from accounting to business.
Do you think initiatives like Young Enterprise are beneficial to young people?
Yes, which is why we are working with Ideas Test to set up a local network for young people wanting to set up an enterprise. I had no idea what I was doing to set up a non-profit, and it involved a lot. (I mean a lot) of googling. Young Enterprise is empowering young people to be their own boss and connecting people together.
I’m still googling to this day. Researching tax, accounting, company laws and best practices.
Technology/social media is at the core of your business. Why is this so critical?
We are a “digital organisation”. We have no formal office, our group meets online (apart from the odd Starbucks) and we use social media to get Young People to join us. Over 80% of our Young Ambassadors have come through Facebook.
Recently, I posted the need for an accountant, and so far things are looking good where people are willing to help probono or very cheap.
Those annoying consent forms that we ask parents to sign? Done online. Phone Calls? All done via Facebook. The only offline documents are receipts – and even they are scanned in and uploaded to a cloud platform.
What advice would you give to young people who are thinking about setting up their own business?
Seek advice and help from people such as Young Enterprise. I took a big step to become a CIC with not much research – and it may be different if I had spoke to someone. It’s certainly not easy, and don’t give up! There’s often a few days a month when I feel like jacking it in. I’ve been finding other passionate young people, and as we share the workload we can grow even more!