2006 Grad - James

Graduated from Envision in London in 2006   -  By Richie Benson

Envision asked me the question 'what do you care about and what are you going to do about it?' 

 


Envision Project

James and his team identified child abuse as the issue they most cared about. They wanted to run a 5-a-side tournament for local schools to coincide with the 2006 Football World Cup, as a fundraiser to raise money for NSPCC. Unfortunately, this never got off the ground, but it turned out to be a big learning experience as he explains: 

I think we were a bit too ambitious so that we couldn’t turn out ideas into a reality. I went to the end of year ceremony that summer and realised what amazing projects other teams were doing. The frustration of wanting to do something and not succeeding made me want to stay more involved with Envision as a graduate. As a result Envision became a particularly big part of my life for three or four years."

 After A levels James ran his own Envision campaign about recycling free newspapers and after leaving school he became Chair of the Envision graduate board to help feed into the decision processes going on internally.

What’s your Envision memory?

I went to one of Envision’s strategy weekends in Carmarthen in Wales. The whole organisation went and they invited me to represent the young people involved. We had a laugh, we all stayed in a cottage and made pizzas together and spend a lot of time talking about how to make Envision continue to work and how to make it relevant to young people.  For me as an 18/19 year old, being made to feel such a part of the Envision team and feeling that my voice really mattered in shaping the organisation was really empowering."

Doing now

After leaving university he went into charity sector and worked for 2 years in the youth sector based on work for Envision.  He is not on TFL’s graduate trainee programme.

What did you get out of Envision?

It was the first time that someone had said, "look, you're a young person, you've got ideas, you've got views about the world and about what things you think are wrong, what could be done better. You have a role in changing that." It encouraged me to think actively about my role in society, I found that really empowering and inspiring. I'd say a lot of the things that I've done in my life since have stemmed from that kind of eureka moment, if you like, and Envision was the starting point for that."

 

I’m still reaping the benefits. When I was at uni, I worked freelance for a couple of youth charities and then became a full time employee when I graduated. I was elevated into a position of seniority beyond my years because I'd already had a lot of experience doing really meaningful stuff with Envision. At 22 I was entrusted with managing youth programmes and government contracts. All that experience enabled me to get onto the graduate scheme at TfL which is very competitive."

Envision asked me the question "what do you care about and what are you going to do about it? Why wait for someone else, or an older person to do it? What can you do now?" and I've maintained that level of activism and campaigning ever since. You know, my family didn't really volunteer or do anything like that so it wasn't something I was exposed to, but since my time with Envision I've always maintained one or two voluntary activities on top of work. For example,  I’ve mentored a young person with autism for the last 3 years and I'm involved with local solar energy projects in my borough. These things are not my work, but I'd say they are a fundamental part of my character and what I enjoy and what I want to get from the world and the contribution I want to make back.....a lot of that stems from Envision facilitating a process of understanding about myself and realising that passion is a great starting point for action."