Finding resilience in times of change

Finding resilience in times of change

Over the last few months we have seen further changes across the UK, tier systems introduced, closure of high street brands and curfews at 10pm. Since our last update back in April the Martin James Network has also been adapting to changes, and it’s been a busy few months.

Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter movement made us stop, reflect and change. We made a stance to support the fight against any injustice both inside and outside the workplace. Not only did we talk candidly about Black Lives Matter on our blog, we also created a new diversity charter, ensuring that all our colleagues are treated fairly and without prejudice or discrimination.

During this period we have welcomed to the network Cliff Faulder and his business ‘About Face’. A new anti-racism training business that provides a safe space to ask the hard questions about diversity and equality in the workplace. Cliff recently created a blog for Black History Month where he discusses his dreams, diversity and more. Read his blog here.

VR and being a disruptive business

We expanded our business with the acquisition of a VR company – VR Simulation System which forms part of the TalkOut Group. Incorporating VR into our business allows us to expand our mental health services, offer alternative learning and support through VR and allow us to reach more people than ever before through collaboration.

In June, Martin James Network were successfully nominated and announced as runners up to Disruptive HR’s ‘Better Normal’ Awards. The awards recognised our leaders’ response to the Coronavirus pandemic – we were congratulated for our innovative and disruptive initiatives during lockdown.

Say hello to CoLAB – we welcome the Mayor of the West Midlands

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands officially opened our creative incubation centre ‘CoLAB’ in October.

The CoLAB will serve EPIC Youth, which is part of the Martin James Foundation. EPIC Youth allows access to mentoring, finance, marketing, and business advice. This collaborative, safe space allows them to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, with access to laptops, camera and video equipment, plus a photo and podcast studio. 

The space has also been utilised by our colleagues when we hosted a ‘Festival of Learning’, offering workshops on creative storytelling, photography and video editing. CoLAB will be a cross functional space for everyone to use and gives our EPIC entrepreneurs direct access to mentoring from MJN talent.

Graffiti trail across the Midlands to celebrate National Poetry Day through founder’s COVID experience

To celebrate National Poetry Day, we decided to take over key areas around Birmingham to raise awareness of the poet ‘Basic Existential Boy’ – also known as our founder Jim Cockburn.

During the 1st lockdown, Jim launched a collection of COVID-19 poetry the month before after falling ill with symptoms of the virus at the start of the year. Showcasing parts of his work across the city, the ‘clean’ graffiti could be found in areas such as Moseley, Harborne, Digbeth, New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill.

Supporting our colleagues for World Mental Health Day

At the network, we have a variety of initiatives to help support our colleagues’ mental health. Throughout this period we have offered access to our TalkOut app – allowing all colleagues to connect and speak with each other, access resources including mental health, employee rewards, and internal company updates all in one place.

We also increased online webinars to cover topics such as mental health, wellbeing and fitness. And we encouraged colleagues to join virtual hangouts, quizzes and celebrate birthdays online. We understood the pressure on working parents – juggling work life and family life as it merged into one. Everyone was offered flexible working, access to additional support online and more check ins with their managers to discuss any issues they had.

Welcome new businesses and a new vision

Even though it’s been a rocky year we have been fortunate to have a strong, resilient business which has allowed us to grow and welcome new leaders and businesses into the Network.

Cliff Faulder has joined as CEO of AboutFace a new diversity training business which will help educate around equality and diversity. We also welcomed Richard Morcombe who has taken lead at UK Fire Training – both new businesses to the network.

Paul Putman will now head up Talkout Group as their new CEO with Daniel Croft joining us as CEO for our Fostertalk brand.

This period has also given us time to step back and solidify our network vision and mission. A vision of a ‘society’ in which every individual is valued and where all dreams can be realised without fear, limitation or prejudice.’ As we move toward the end of the year, we take comfort in the the work that we have achieved over the past few months, despite the global uncertainity.

Our New ‘Fearless’ Series – What ‘fearless’ means to me, by Ayyab Cockburn

Our New ‘Fearless’ Series – What ‘fearless’ means to me, by Ayyab Cockburn

Recently, we clarified the Martin James Network vision, mission and strapline. Here at Martin James Network, we are united in  working towards a a society in which every individual is valued and where all dreams can be realised without fear, limitation or prejudice.’  

But what exactly does ‘Fearless’ mean?

We asked our employees across the network what fearless means to them. Over the coming weeks we will be featuring articles, videos, and creative work in our new Fearless series. We kick off with Group Chief Operating Officer, Ayyab Cockburn:

One of my favourite quotes has to be:

“There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings”

I take great inspiration from this as ‘fearless futures’ for me, is very much about roots and wings. The roots representing the strength and support to empower our children, our fellow human beings, but also ourselves to grow into who we want to become, and the wings representing the self-belief to live our truths and thrive.  

We can learn so much from young people about being fearless. As children we believe we can do anything. We are unapologetically ourselves, honest, experimental, curious, flexible, and non- judgemental. But somewhere along the way we lose some of this, some of us more than others. 

Research has shown that at around the ages of 11 or 12 we can start to cling to limiting ideas we have about ourselves or that others have about us, which begin to constrain our real and authentic selves. For many, socio economic factors that may have always existed, can start to become more acutely felt. The effect of all this being to turn dreams once so freely and joyously imagined into almost impossible fantasies.

For me, a large part of the resilience we need to not only cope with but to overcome such challenges comes from a sense of ‘feeling rooted’. By this I mean a sense of togetherness and connection from being part of nurturing families and other supportive and social networks. For amongst these very networks exist people who believe in us, encourage us, equip us, show us what good looks like, provide us with the feedback we need – good and bad, help us develop boundaries (never walls) and ultimately give us the freedom to flourish and grow in confidence towards our destinies. For the vast majority of people in society, access to these enabling structures exist from an early age and continue to remain with them throughout their lifetimes.

Ayyab Brice

But the reality for many others is that these structures have been severely weakened through life events and/or societal barriers. This gives rise to internal emotional chains which shackle and eventually destroy the once healthy roots which held such promise of facilitating that fearless flight towards longed for dreams and goals.

It is these very communities of people both young and old, for whom I believe as network we seek to empower ‘fearless futures’ We do this in the main by ‘supporting the supporters’ to unlock the potential that exists inside many young people, families and communities that have in some way, shape or form been uprooted emotionally or physically. But we also do this by modelling ‘fearless’ in every sense of the word ourselves – courageously re-imagining, co-designing and implementing innovative human centred practice, tech, science and evidence-based solutions to help achieve better outcomes.

Let’s learn from our children and young people about what it means to be fearless. Let’s help build and repair the structures which promote the ‘togetherness’ our communities need to flourish, grow and achieve their dreams. Let’s be inspired to really reach within ourselves to connect to who we want to be. Let’s do whatever it takes to create ‘fearless futures’ for this generation and the next.

 Fearless futures: re-imagining what’s possible.

MJN celebrates entrepreneurs week with EPIC Youth

MJN celebrates entrepreneurs week with EPIC Youth

This week, Martin James Foundation and EPIC Youth are celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week 2020. Hear the stories about our EPIC Entrepreneurs Dion and Rennae who have been working with EPIC Youth over the last few months.

 

Dion Fanthom – Mindful Monday

 

Dion joined EPIC Youth in June 2020. Dion had already launched her business the previous year however required some further support to develop and grow her business. With the help of EPIC Youth we were able to trademark the name ‘Mindful Monday’ as well as providing intensive business and financial support.

The inspiration for Mindful Monday came about from bad experiences within the workplace, when it came to employee mental health and wellbeing. I had openly spoken about my mental health challenges and encouraged my colleagues to do the same but the support was non-existent. It seemed at the time that managers didn’t really care about or know how to approach the topic of mental health in the workplace.

I saw my colleagues burn out, experienced terrible anxiety myself and as a result ended up dreading going to work on a Monday morning. My one wish was to simply have a more mindful Monday, hence the name for my own business came to life.

When I left these toxic working environments I was filled with frustration towards my prior managers, I was left damaged by the poor experiences myself and my colleagues had been through. It was only after reflecting I started to think maybe it’s not their fault, maybe it’s not always about being ignorant, maybe it is about being uneducated. That is why I created Mindful Monday, to be proactive when it came to mental health. To create understanding and educated environments across all industries for individuals to thrive, completely shame-free.

 

Since launching at the beginning of the year we have held fully booked events, launched a project to give over 100 people a free box of positivity at the beginning of lockdown, created online content, and sold a range of products via our website.

Some of these products include mugs, coasters, pocket mirrors, and as we approach December we have created an alternative advent calendar that provides self-care and mindful prompts each day in order to inspire people to be kind to their mind over the festive period.

When it comes to Mindful Monday, success to me is achieved every day. With each message or order that comes through I get a sense of success as I know we are helping those who want to get a better understanding of mental health. Long term success would be seeing a real change when it comes to mental health in all industries and environments, normalised conversations and support systems, individuals thriving in work with constant support for employees mental health.

I have very ambitious plans for Mindful Monday and I am confident I will achieve them. There is a need for an organisation like the one me and my community have created, this pandemic has shown there is a clear demand for more organic mental health support and I am determined to continue providing that for as long as it is needed.

Rennae Smith – Tressamore

Rennae joined EPIC Youth in January 2020, she had a passion for hair extensions and wanted some support to launch her own business as she was unsure of how to do it on her own. Rennae received intensive support from the Martin James Network which included business and financial help. Some of the ways in which the network was able to help was by guiding her through trademarking her name, registering her business, helping her to design logos and branding as well as ongoing pastoral support.

When Rennae was asked why she chose to start a hair extension business she replied ‘ I chose to start a hair business as it was something I’m passionate about as I’ve always been doing hair from a little girl to make extra money on the side. And it’s a skill that I have naturally become very good at. I am very fond of the hair industry and origin; it’s something that I find really interesting’. 

Due to COVID-19 it has unfortunately delayed the launch of Tressamore as products have become unavailable or hard to get hold of but Rennae is still hoping to launch online after Christmas.

‘I’m excited to finally launch so everyone can see the amazing quality hair extensions I have in store as I have so many ideas up my sleeve. I am hoping to Launch after Christmas’  

Rennae has a clear idea of what being successful means to her. ‘What drives me is the idea of being successful and meeting my end goal that I have worked so hard for. Coming up with new creative ideas to improve business & just becoming the best version of myself and becoming a role model to my siblings.’

Lindsey Hyde – EPIC Youth: I am so excited for Rennae to launch her hair business, she has been committed driven and passionate to get this point. I am sure the business will be a massive success and I can’t wait to her see her launch and to finally start selling her products. Good luck Rennae!!

Please look out for more information on where you can purchase some of Rennae’s amazing products…………

 

Find out more about Martin James Foundation and our EPIC Youth scheme by clicking here 

Talk In For Talk Out – Series One

A new mini-podcast for the Martin James Network where we get to meet the people we work with.

We fire a load of fun, random questions at our employees to understand a little bit more about what makes them tick.

Episodes include Olivia Tanner, Rebecca Stafford, Faye Grundy, Ayyab Cockburn, Mark Shrimpton and Jim Cockburn.

Finding resilience in times of change

Fearless Futures – A note from Jim Cockburn, Chair at Martin James Network

I want to take this opportunity to unveil our newly clarified vision and mission for the Martin James Network, to which all of our companies and brands are proud to belong.

Here at the Martin James Network, every one of our employees is united in the desire to make a positive contribution to society and amplify the voices of the mould-breakers and change makers of the world. We are now also unified in our vision and mission statement.

The individual groups and companies within the Martin James Network, often pioneers with their own vision, can clearly link back to this unifying purpose. It only serves to demonstrate further the powerful sense of connection and community in our unique and diverse network.

As a lifelong advocate for change I’m proud to be associated with our new vision statement. The vision of ‘a society in which every individual is valued and where all dreams can be realised without fear, limitation or prejudice.’

I love the wordswithout fear’. I’ve always believed in the quote ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, because too often we are constrained by internal and external fears. And this feeds into our new Martin James Network strapline:

 

“Fearless Futures”

Our new mission is to improve social outcomes by reimagining what’s possible and utilising disruptive technology and practice, to unlock human potential.” 

This is a fantastic statement which surprises me as an old technophobe but I’ve learnt lately, especially and unsurprisingly during lockdown, that a pivot to technology is essential even in human powered organisations.

Providing real-time answers to global problems, the Martin James Network harnesses a talented team of digital winners whose VR, Chatbots, Apps, AI, innovations and more, will only increase in popularity during the unconnected, changing information age. Aligned with the ability to reimagine futures, which we have always been able to do, we become an unstoppable force for good.

Our values describe how “we’re fearless pioneers with a social conscience”. This simple sentence highlights the prominence of the care, courage and creativity that drives our employees. But it is also essential for us to work collaboratively, challenge existing ideas curiously and candidly, and adopt an unwavering commitment to succeed whatever barriers we may face, in order to really change the world.

 

On a personal note, I am blessed to be working with Ayyab, my wife and business partner. She is a constant inspiration, in turn conquering new technologies and driving forth our social mission. She is a passionate advocate of the need for diversity of thought; to develop understanding, create better solutions and ultimately grow as people and communities. Valuing the power of our differences whilst recognising our common ground of improving human outcomes, strengthens the collective power of our network.

The Martin James Network will continue to advocate for change by pushing boundaries and breaking moulds. By encouraging our employees and partners to be courageous and creative, we empower a truly fearless community which collaboratively bounces from one another.

We have come so far and achieved so much already, but through our new overarching vision and mission, we can and we will continue to build fearless families, fearless communities and ultimately fearless futures.