Martin James Network launches creative incubation centre to nurture young talent

Martin James Network launches creative incubation centre to nurture young talent

In December, we launched Epic Youth – a charitable project to help disadvantaged young people with business and entrepreneurial success. Fast forward to today, and we’re delighted to have launched CoLab – a creative incubation centre to mentor and support entrepreneurial talent across the Midlands.

As a network, we strongly believe in supporting young people who have experienced adversity. We work to transform the social and emotional health and wellbeing of disempowered and underserved communities so they have access to equal opportunities within society and can flourish, prosper, and realise their dreams.

We do this by providing pathways to employment and personal development aimed at business and entrepreneurial success. CoLab will play a huge part in helping us to achieve this. But on top of that, it will provide a dedicated safe space to cultivate entrepreneurial mindsets within the Martin James Network too.

CoLab is equipped with all the tools and inspiration people need to get creative and turn ideas into opportunities. It’s a space for people to work collaboratively on projects, express themselves candidly, and pursue new ideas. We’ll also soon be introducing Creative Bites – a series of taster workshops to help people develop skills in disciplines ranging from photography and cinematography to coding and virtual reality .

We’re hugely excited about the potential of CoLab and we can’t wait to see the impact it has. Not only will it serve as an incubation centre for budding entrepreneurs through our Epic Youth programme, it will boost internal wellbeing by giving our people opportunities to get creative, learn new skills and express themselves.

Take a look at the video below to see what CoLAB looks like.

Martin James Network – connecting minds, shaping futures

A multi million-pound management buyout (MBO) has taken place at Worcestershire based Agility Group

A multi million-pound management buyout (MBO) has taken place at Worcestershire based Agility Group

The Bromsgrove based, multi-award winning Agility Group, operates in two specialist business streams, the largest being in Vehicle Funding & Fleet Management and the other in Risk & Compliance Training and Consultancy including Fire Safety and Occupational Health Screening.

 The Agility Group has an annual turnover of in excess of £12m and currently employees c40 employees across Agility Fleet, Agility Risk & Compliance. The UK Fire Training business will remain within the Martin James Network with a strategy to build and grow with an innovative product offering. 

The business was founded in 2004 by Managing Director Keith Townsend and Chairman Jim Cockburn. Townsend manages the business day to day with the support of his long serving Senior Management Team, comprising Jacki Stevenson, Operations Director; Lee O’Connell, Sales Director; and Ross Matthews, Finance Director.

Keith Townsend said, “I am delighted to have been able to lead this MBO and take full control of the business. I am also very grateful for the opportunity given to me 16 years ago by Jim Cockburn which led to the creation of the company and for his ongoing support, advice and friendship over the years”.

“As far as our customers, staff and suppliers are concerned, it’s business as usual with our focus remaining on providing exceptionally high levels of customer service unpinned by our core values of Integrity, Enthusiasm and Flexibility.”

Jim Cockburn said “Having seen the business grow and flourish under Keith’s management, it felt that the time was right for the management team take full control of the business and allow me to focus on my other business interests within the Martin James Group. This is an exciting time for both parties and we look forward to watching the future success of the Agility Group over the coming years”

Agility Group revenues have increased steadily over the past five years both organically and by way of acquisition, with the business emphasis on developing new and added value services within both of its two business streams.

World Photo day through the eyes of a child

World Photo day through the eyes of a child

In June 2019 Photographer Kate Green travelled to Jordan to visit Zaatari Refugee Camp. The camp holds 80,000 Syrian Men, Women and Children that have fled their homes in Syria because of the ongoing War, 20% of the camps residents are children under 5 years old.

This wasn’t just another photographer going over to photograph these ‘poor’ people but a trip to introduce Cameras into the therapeutic practices funded by The Martin James Foundation at the Hope Centre within the camp.

The Hope Centre cares for sick and disabled children and their families providing Psychosocial support, Speech, Physio and Occupational Therapy. It is the only centre of its kind in Zaatari.

Through participatory photography Kate uses cameras to help people connect to themselves, each other and their environment. For the therapist this meant that they had an extra tool in their kitbag to deliver their therapies and keep the children engaged in what can often be difficult and challenging sessions.

One example of the how the camera was used was the Phsycosocial Support Therapist worked with three boys on conflict resolution. The camera was used to record role plays of modelling acceptable behaviour. This turned into creative and fun learning and the opportunity to reflect on the images at the end of the session reenforced the learning.

Kate said “working with the children and therapists in Zaatari was a humbling and sobering experience. It was a privilege to introduce photography and creative learning into the Hope Centre and to witness the positive outcomes that creative therapeutic practices can have.”

 Take a look at the gallery below to see some of the images. To find out more about Martin James Foundation take a look at their website.

Birmingham business expands with VR acquisition

Birmingham business expands with VR acquisition

Birmingham-based business, the Martin James Network, has expanded its portfolio further with the acquisition of VR company, VR Simulation Systems.

Headquartered in Edgbaston, and employing over 1,200 people globally, the Martin James Network is formed from a variety of organisations ranging from start-ups to well-established brands that have been in business for over 15 years.

The network has gone from strength-to-strength over the last two years, having started as a team of ten in rented offices in October 2018.

This latest move sees the network expand its mental health group, TalkOut, as it looks to help businesses navigate new ways of working and support staff wellbeing following the coronavirus outbreak.

Headed up by CEO, Jill Mead, TalkOut will now be able to offer workplaces across the country access to the best employee mental health support using the latest technology, in addition to its existing training and consultancy services.

As well as the new VR offering enabling employees to better understand and manage mental health through simulated environments, TalkOut has launched an app to help businesses connect and engage with teams as the nation adjusts to home working.

Rigorously tested for 18 months, and developed to work across countries and continents, the app helps businesses encourage collaboration, boost engagement, break down silos and provide crucial mental health support and counselling through a specialist chat function.

Ayyab Cockburn, chief operating officer at the Martin James Network, says: “We’re an ambitious network of businesses and we’re always looking at ways to diversify and grow, whilst keeping an eye on emerging trends.

“This latest acquisition is our response to what is a global issue. We’ve all been forced to work remotely, and whilst flexibility is an attractive benefit, this way of working can lead to isolation or silos.

“Businesses now more than ever are faced with both emotional and physical barriers that can and will impact on their success. Accepting that we need to change how we communicate with our employees, will be key in driving businesses forward during this challenging time.”

For more information about the Martin James Network, visit or