Charlotte Elliott, CEO of Affinity 2020 CIC, shares her team’s mission to support care experienced young people locally through sustainable growth and collaboration – and how Launchpad has been ‘instrumental’ in the rapid development of the organisation
Tell us about your company?
Affinity 2020 CIC works with care experienced young people in Rotherham. Affinity 2020 was created by three experienced educational leaders, who want to tackle the gaps in support for care experienced people.
When did you first decide to start up on your own and what inspired you?
As both a dyslexic person and a foster sister, I understand the challenges traditional schooling can present.
Barbra Crawshaw is a trained foster carer and special educational needs leader from one of the most disadvantaged areas in Rotherham and knows how opportunities can change lives. Sam Kirtly is an educational leader who as a young child secured a top scholarship to an independent school, which helped launch her own educational journey out of disadvantage.
Our collective experiences inspired us to conceive Affinity 2020 in September 2019, with an appetite to support care experienced young people locally. To date, we have collaborated with 15 partners and worked with more than 120 young people through our different projects. COVID has not blocked our work in supporting young people. We are very proud to have secured over £41,000 in funding for our work to date.
How has Launchpad helped you?
Launchpad has been instrumental in the rapid development of the organisation from concept to reality. The workshops that are on offer from Launchpad really supported us in drilling down and creating our business model, which is rooted in social change.
Each unit was specifically tailored around growing a new business. Our business coach Julia Millea is exceptional – her knowledge of developing business concepts into the start-up stage demonstrates true excellence. One-to-one support from Julia helped us shape our products and services, which has continued as we are growing. Julia is skilled in business coaching truly understanding how to work with innovators. I would recommend the programme to anyone who has a concept they want to explore.
What are your hopes and aims for the business?
Our audacious goal is to provide £1000 of cultural and leadership opportunities for care experienced young people in Rotherham, by 2030. We wish to grow sustainably, keeping at the heart of our work collaboration not competition with all local and national partners.
Julia Millea said: “It’s been a pleasure working with the Affinity 2020 team and it’s no surprise to see them making such a promising start. They’ve worked hard to turn their initial ideas into a unique offer, making the most of the broad range of free specialist support available through the Launchpad programme.
“Starting and growing a business is not easy and that’s why the Launchpad programme was created. Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and our partners means there is no cost to the entrepreneur, so we can get straight to work on turning those dreams into reality.