Mayor of West Midlands officially opens ‘CoLAB’ – a creative incubation centre to nurture young talent

Mayor of West Midlands officially opens ‘CoLAB’ – a creative incubation centre to nurture young talent

On Wednesday 6th October, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlandsvisited the Martin James Network offices to officially open CoLAB – a creative incubation centre to mentor and support entrepreneurial talent across the Midlands. 

In December, Martin James Network launched EPIC Youth – a charitable project to help young people who have experienced adversity by providing them with pathways to business and entrepreneurial success. Fast forward to today, where it’s opened its doors to CoLAB to further enable the ongoing nurturing and mentoring of those individuals who form part of the project. 

The launch of CoLAB will provide a dedicated safe space to cultivate entrepreneurial mindsets within the Martin James Network, for those involved in EPIC Youth to utilise to further their business, as well as external people such as local schools, local community groups and other business minded groups in the Birmingham area. 

Equipped with all the tools and inspiration that people need to get creative and turn ideas into opportunitiesCoLAB will allow individuals to work collaboratively on projects, express themselves candidly, and pursue new ideas. And what’s more, a series of engaging taster workshops will be hosted over the upcoming months to help people develop skills in disciplines ranging from photography and cinematography to coding and virtual reality. 

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We know young people are most at risk from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, and we must do all we can to support them. 

“The work of The Martin James Network and Epic Youth is a brilliant example of the kind of help that is already available to young people, including mentoring, business advice, and financial support. 

“Their new CoLAB will help to build on this great work, and I was honoured to be asked to officially open the new facility.” 

The Martin James Network strongly believe in supporting young people who have experienced adversity. Its mission is to unlock hidden potential through practices and products which challenge and empower communities to think, act and behave differently, in the pursuit of positive lasting outcomes for everybody. 

Jim Cockburnexecutive chairman at The Martin James Network, comments: “We’re hugely excited about the potential of CoLAB and we can’t wait to see the impact it has for anyone using itNot only will it serve as a creative hub for training and stimulate innovation, it will boost wellbeing by giving our communities the opportunity to get creative, learn new skills and express themselves. 

CoLAB will provide essential hands on experience and specialist skills thanks to the modern-day technology available – we can’t wait to watch individuals grow and prosper! 

Martin James Network founder marks National Poetry Day with city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his experiences of Covid

Martin James Network founder marks National Poetry Day with city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his experiences of Covid

To mark National Poetry Day (Thursday 1st October), Birmingham poet – Basic Existential Boy – has installed a city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his own experiences of Covid.

Basic Existential Boy, or Jim Cockburn as he’s also known, launched his collection of Covid-19 poetry last month after falling ill with symptoms of the virus back in February.

Now, as we approach National Poetry Day, Jim hopes to inspire others and share his love of the written word with this thought provoking ‘clean graffiti’ art trail.

The trail aims to highlight the importance of art and poetry at times like these but also analyse how the pandemic has radically altered our society, rendering everyday life virtually unrecognisable overnight.

Showcasing excerpts of the poet’s work, the graffiti can be found in a number of locations throughout Birmingham such as Moseley, Harborne, Digbeth, Broad Street and New Street, as well as Moor Street and Snow Hill.

Speaking about his Covid poetry collection, Jim says: “Lockdown created time and space for me to reflect and writing this poetry has been a cathartic experience, helping me to deal with the mixed emotions the pandemic has brought about.

“The Coronavirus has disrupted every part of our lives in profound ways and no one has been immune from the effects. Within the pages of the collection, I have tried to capture some of these momentous times, good and bad.

Available to purchase on Amazon, Jim’s collection – called Covid Spring – features 17 poems reflecting on the world we’ve come to witness during the pandemic.

All proceeds from the collection go to EPIC Youth – a project set up by the Martin James Foundation to help disadvantaged young people with business and entrepreneurial success.

For more information visit www.basicexistentialboy.com or to purchase the Covid Spring anthology, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/Covid-Spring-Basic-Existential-Boy/dp/1527268446.

Follow @BasicExistentialBoy on Instagram and use the hashtag #BEBTHEPOET if you spot his work across the city.

Martin James Network founder publishes Covid-inspired poetry book for charity

Martin James Network founder publishes Covid-inspired poetry book for charity

Martin James Network founder and chairperson, Jim Cockburn, has launched a collection of Covid-19 inspired poetry after falling ill with symptoms of the virus back in February.

Jim is usually known for his candid, straight-talking approach in business but he also has a surprising love for the arts, theatre and literature.

Like many of us during lockdown, Jim re-evaluated the things that brought him joy and he started to express himself through poetry.

It was here that Jim’s pseudonym, Basic Existential Boy, was born. He was inspired to write Covid Spring – a collection of 17 poems reflecting on the world we’ve come to witness during the pandemic.

The collection features pieces such as The Covid Singalong, Kick It Out Covid, and Covid the Crow, and analyses how the pandemic has radically altered British society, rendering everyday life virtually unrecognisable overnight.

The anthology is available to purchase on Amazon, with proceeds going to EPIC Youth – a project set up by the Martin James Foundation to help disadvantaged young people with business and entrepreneurial success.

Jim comments: “Lockdown created time and space for me to reflect and writing this poetry has been a cathartic experience, helping me to deal with the mixed emotions the pandemic has brought about.

“The Coronavirus has disrupted every part of our lives in profound ways and no one has been immune from the effects.

“Within the pages of the collection, I have tried to capture some of these momentous times, good and bad, with my verse as the drama unfolds.”

Fellow Brummie and renowned spoken word artist, Amerah Saleh, has brought a selection of the poems to life in a series of short performances on Basic Existential Boy’s YouTube and social media channels.

Amerah says: “It’s really important for me to connect with any work I take on, to feel the story and to be able to relate it to my life. These poems are a glimpse into what a lot of people are thinking and feeling around the world. The writing is poignant and raw, and that is the kind of thing I have always loved to read. To bring it to life feels like I’m able to share these important words into voice.

“Writing like this really hits home with life right now and allows you to reflect on the world as a whole rather than our micro-society. Basic Existential Boy looks at the bigger picture and how Covid-19 is impacting everyone’s lives.”

To watch Amerah’s performance of Covid App, visit https://youtu.be/EdbHyZFvI80, or to buy the Covid Spring anthology, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/Covid-Spring-Basic-Existential-Boy/dp/1527268446.

Riding the wave of a new business landscape

Riding the wave of a new business landscape

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has caused immense disruption to businesses across the globe – and in some cases, irreparable damage. But for The Martin James Group, the clever use of data and digital platforms, alongside unwavering persistence, has meant we have been able to navigate the crisis and ride the bumpy wave.

From charities to leading technology brands, The Martin James Network consists of three groups of companies all with a shared vision of changing futures. Founded by Martin James Cockburn – or Jim, as he’s commonly known – the network ranges from start-ups to well-established brands that have been in business for over 15 years.

jim cockburn
Chair of the network – Jim Cockburn

Like all businesses, the Martin James Network hasn’t been able to completely avoid the impact and interruption felt by this unprecedented global pandemic. Yet, thanks to its existing innovations and the need for continued support from the markets it operates within, the network has been able to adapt and make the most of a potentially catastrophic situation.

Jim shares the network’s learnings and successes from the last four weeks of this new business landscape:

Accelerating innovation

Over the last 12 months, the Martin James Network has developed and implemented a digital communication and engagement app called JiffyJab, which allows organisations to share information within their own private network. Having already been successfully adopted by a number of businesses, we are now offering the app to the care, charity and health sectors free of charge during the coronavirus crisis.

One of our brands, FosterTalk – a not-for-profit support service for foster carers – has also been working with internal partners to implement a new communication tool. Due to launch soon, the app will allow FosterTalk members to access advice and support, as well as chat in real-time to other foster carers at what is an extremely stressful and challenging time for them.

Responding to market needs

Our brand leaders across the network have been using this crisis to shape new ways of working, whilst responding to market needs. Life sciences company, Okra, is working to offer COVID-19 insights using transformative predictive AI technology. Our workplace mental health organisation, TalkOut, is offering more webinars and online training at a time when managing employee mental health remotely is crucial. Business support and IT brand, Anster, has been busy developing a family support package to help Local Authorities across the UK support more vulnerable families. And Intellect – our foster carer tax advice service – is supporting carers to unpick and understand the massive volume of information regarding self-employment.

Offering a helping hand

Our charity, the Martin James Foundation, supports vulnerable young people around the world and has stepped up during this crisis to launch an emergency appeal. It is also working closely with partners in Birmingham to support more vulnerable families within communities that need it.

Internally, the network’s People team have launched a range of initiatives to boost morale and wellbeing, including wellbeing Wednesday, Sing-a-long Thursday, quiz nights on Friday, daily HIIT workouts on Facebook Live, and a Facebook group for employees needing to keep their kids entertained which has grown to nearly 4,000 members.

We are also hugely proud that we haven’t had to furlough too many staff and any that have been, have had 100% of their salaries covered.

Crisis builds collaboration

In what is an unsettling and stressful time, our people have really stepped up to get employees and themselves through the upheaval. Whilst information and updates were always previously shared between brands, our network leaders are now having weekly virtual meetings so we can share ideas and concerns, as well as identify new ways to collaborate and support each other.

Our staff continue to support each other through candid and authentic communications via our internal communications app, JiffyJab, as well as through Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack.

Jim comments: “It could be very easy to be knocked back by a crisis like this but through collaborative effort and the commitment of each brand within the network, we’ve managed to explore new ways of working and meet market demands.

“Our focus has become sharper during these testing times and our network’s mantra of ‘connecting minds and shaping futures to transform lives’ resonates now more than ever.

“We’ve learned that times of crisis and uncertainty can actually give us more courage and we believe that we will come out the end stronger and more resilient as a network.”

Find out more about the Martin James Network here.

Dr. Heather Modlin

Dr. Heather Modlin

On the 12th of September 2019, Heather Modlin, Provincial Director of Key Assets Newfoundland was a finalist for #StandUpForKidsCanada Lynn Factor National Award organised by the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

Stephen Jacques, CEO of Key Assets, said, ‘Heather’s work across Newfoundland & Labrador has been noted as outstanding! She is a true agent of change & we are very, very proud of her!’

Heather has been committed to creating positive change in the lives of young people for 30 years, particularly striving for Family Based Care. Heather led the initiative to create a multi-agency committee who will investigate child abuse and develop a Child Advocacy Centre in Newfoundland.

The #StandUpForKidsCanada Lynn Factor National Award recognises those who have made an indelible mark on the child welfare landscape across Canada and Heather has proven her dedication to enact social change.