Gifted graduates putting the ‘social’ into social enterprise

Social enterprise Year Here encourages promising graduates into the social sector to apply themselves to the most pressing social issues of the day

Year Here is about bringing brilliant graduates into the social sector to help tackle social problems.

The social enterprise was founded by Jack Graham in 2012, but was officially launched at 10 Downing Street a year later. His vision for the organisation is to get young men and women to put their minds to the most pressing social issues of the day with a view to finding alternative solutions.

The primary aim of Year Here is to provide a fresh pathway into social leadership. To achieve this, the organisation works to attract very able graduates, which they call ‘fellows’. Successful applicants undertake a one year full-time training programme.

Partnership manager Michael Simpson summed up Year Here’s mission: “To change the landscape of society, through the approaches we are taking to address social issues. There is definitely tension between creating innovators and not just cogs in the system. We hope that wherever our fellows go they are doing something entrepreneurial, be it within a big organisation or running their own thing.”

“We hope that wherever our fellows go they are doing something entrepreneurial, be it within a big organisation or running their own thing.”

In little over a year since it started, Year Here has achieved a lot. Its fellows have already volunteered in 15,000 frontline services such as care homes, secondary schools, employability programmes and homeless services. During the course the fellows also run their own creative projects. These have included developing work books for women who have suffered trauma, reinventing work experience for school children and developing a room in a care home where relatives can spend alone time together.

Year Here fellows also give TED talks, write articles for national newspapers and most importantly, develop award-winning social enterprises such as the Rootless Garden, which aims to combat loneliness in old age through community gardening.

Though the ultimate aim is to be self-sustaining, Year Here currently derives income from consulting fees, grants and various fundraising events.

Year Here is led by a small team and guided by a network of advisors. These include Sophie Howarth, co-founder of The School of Life and Nick Nielsen, co-founder of social action charity Envision and innovation agency OSCAS.

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Jack Graham, on whose vision the organisation was founded, continues to be its main driver. His emphasis now, especially after his experiences in international development in Uganda, is that charity should begin at home – in other words, aspiring young graduates should start by addressing social issues that are local to them.

Year Here plans to substantially increase its intake of fellows in 2015 and eventually to offer a post graduate degree alongside the current programme. This will help to ensure that Year Here can continue to provide the social leadership pathway required to achieve real change.

This article was written by Patrick Chike while taking part in the Big Issue online journalism programme with Poached Creative. To find out more visit their website.