Feeling the fear but doing it anyway

Feeling the fear but doing it anyway

Richard Dooner, CEO of Antser.

I liken Martin James Network’s vision of ‘Fearless Futures’ to my two all-time favourite quotes. Quotes that both inspire me and also sum up my journey leading Antser with a future-facing approach.

“We choose to go to the moon this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard…” – John F. Kennedy

I see this as extraordinary leadership because he pushed the boundaries and dared to do something that others hadn’t done before. Essentially, deliberately choosing to do something incredibly difficult, but incredibly brave and fearless at the same time.

He dared to look down the barrel of opportunity which equally could have been the barrel of failure. Instead of seeing the prospect of failure and fearing to do something, Kennedy proactively engaged his bravery and ultimately led his people and nation to achieve one of humankind’s most amazing achievements.

“If you can’t fly, then run, and if you can’t run, then walk, and if you can’t walk, crawl… but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King

This quote inspires me because to be fearless like JFK is simply not enough. To dream and to dare is one thing, but you have to turn that ambition into hard, relentless work. When the days are hard, you keep going, and on the days that are harder still, you push deeper. Persevering, doing whatever you need to do to keep moving forward and succeed.    

When the opportunity came to build and lead Antser I wanted to. Not because it would be easy but because it would be hard. It’s been one of the scariest and most challenging things that I have ever done.  

With the constant weight of fear and anxiety, questioning, are we making the right decisions? Are we going in the right direction? What do we do next?  

But each day I enjoy facing that fear, because knowing how many lives Antser could change, inspires me to keep going. And in doing so, every day, every week, every month, every meeting and every decision is another step forward to a future where Antser becomes the leading, most trusted partner in its sector.  

Thus further linking back to the Martin Luther King quote, in that some days I feel like we are flying, other days we are slowly trudging along. But in pursuit of our goal, we move forward, even if we are crawling.  

So for me, ‘Fearless Futures’ means a belief in opportunity, creating something better that hasn’t been done or achieved before. It might be hard, and others might shy away from it, but underpinned by hard work at Martin James Network we can turn these dreams into reality. 

Key Assets’ role in LGBTQ+ history – Steve Jacques

Key Assets’ role in LGBTQ+ history – Steve Jacques

Happy #LGBTHistoryMonth! This February, the Martin James Network is excited to celebrate the lives, legacies and histories of LGBT people in the UK and abroad. Throughout the month we will be posting information pieces, stories from colleagues across the network, useful links and much more. First up is Key Assets. Steve Jacques, Group Chief Executive Officer at Key Assets, part of the Martin James Foundation, gives us an insight into how they are contributing to the history of LGBT+.

It’s so good to shine a light on this and also to highlight our own role in making history. For example, did you know that Key Assets companies in Australia and Ireland, with board endorsement, were either the only one or one of very few children’s services organisations, to publicly support a ‘yes’ vote in the respective referendum/plebiscite on marriage equality? We have also been instrumental in campaigning for supporting the right for LGBT+ people to foster and adopt in Ireland, the UK, Finland and Japan. In Japan and Finland we partnered with the work of Rainbow Foster Care JPN and Rainbow Families FIN to promote the contribution that LGBT+ families can bring to foster care provision in these countries. In 2017 the Osaka Prefecture approved the first gay couple, as foster carers, in Japan!

We were the first independent children’s services company to be included in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index and the Australian Workplace Equality Index for our commitment to LGBT+ inclusion. In fact Key Assets Australia have not only made it on the AWEI, every year since 2015, but were also recipients of the prestigious LGBT ‘Employer of the Year’ Award on three occasions. In Ireland we are the only independent fostering agency to ever be nominated for a GALAS LGBT+ Outstanding Company Award since the award’s inception in 2009. Senior managers across our network have also been recognised by being shortlisted at LGBT and Diversity Award events around the world.

We were one of the first to introduce equal benefits to LGBT+ employees, before the introduction of equality legislation. We also put in place, long before others, a framework for how we would support our Trans colleagues through their transition journey.
Our first Group CEO, Estella Abraham, was identified by Stonewall UK as an LGBT Role Model in 2016 and Steve Jacques, the current Group CEO of our network of companies across Europe has been recognised 3 years running within the Top 100 LGBT+ Executives Role Models lists published by Google, Deloitte, Financial Times & Yahoo Finance.

Did you know that 23% of the senior leaders within Key Assets branded companies identify as Lesbian or gay? Each one of them, along with LGBT+ allies, have actively engaged in campaigning for the civil rights of LGBT+ people. Our people have protested, lobbied, campaigned over issues of legalisation, age of consent, education, equal treatment, marriage equality, conversion therapy, the right to foster and adopt, equality legislation, Trans rights and workplace equality, to name a few.
During LGBT History month we reflect on the progress made, in many places, but we recognise there is still so much to do to ensure a brighter future for our LGBT+ colleagues, friends, family members, foster carers, clients and most of all our children and young people! Companies across the Network have been and will continue to be instrumental in achieving this and continuing to make history!

This is the first of many pieces to come from the Martin James Network as we celebrate and remember LGBT History month. Follow our social media pages to find out more.

MJN launches it’s first Fearless Storytelling Competition

MJN launches it’s first Fearless Storytelling Competition


To celebrate National Storytelling week on 29th January, the Martin James Network launched its very first children’s ‘Fearless Voices’ creative writing competition. In a time when home-schooling is the new normal, we want to create a platform for children to be brave with their imaginations and creativity. Fearless Stories will amplify the voices of children, in a year when they have had little opportunity to be heard. 

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

From Friday 29th January children between 5-15 years will have the opportunity to submit a fictional story of 500 words (or less!) about being courageous. The only limits are imagination and creativity!

There will be a bronze, silver and gold winner in each age category: 5 – 7 yrs, 8 – 11 yrs, 12 – 15 yrs.


Gold: One double page spread of your story illustrated by children’s book illustrator

Silver: £50 Waterstone book tokens

Bronze: Creative writing book, notepads, pens and colours (worth £25)

Entries must be made by a parent, guardian or teacher who can submit the story by emailing
Please include the child’s name and age when submitting.

Competition closes on 26th February.