9 Apr 2018

Harrison Centre’s 5 in 5

It’s exactly five months since we launched the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility.

Our mission is to make a practical difference to social mobility by supporting charities that give people a hand up. We’re especially focused on digital skills, career preparation and financial education

Our founder, David Harrison, grew up in North West Durham. A 40-year business career has culminated in him building True Potential, which is one of the fastest growing businesses in Europe today.

The Harrison Centre aims to help others fulfil their own potential, no matter where they started.

These are the Harrison Centre’s top 5 achievements in the five months since it was launched at the stunning Walwick Hall in Northumberland.

  1. £30,000 support for local charities

We were proud to launch the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility in November with donations totalling £30,000 for local charities. They include the Newcastle United Foundation; the Foundation of Light in Sunderland; Montagu Blacks U7 football team; Moving On Durham; Changing Lives, based in Gateshead; the Chronicle Sunshine Fund; and the Oswin Project in Northumberland.

  1. Sowing Seeds for the future

In January we backed Ouseburn Farm based in the centre of Newcastle with a donation that will support training and education.

Ouseburn Farm dates back to the 1970s and was set up by local people who wanted children living in the city to have the opportunity to work with animals. It remains a working farm run by dedicated staff and volunteers for the benefit of the community.

The farm provides an adult learning programme and works with schools to provide a unique educational experience.

  1. The Beacon of Light

Beacon of Light is Sunderland’s most innovative sports and education facility and the first of its kind in the UK. This exciting new venue is set to open in summer 2018.

The facility will feature five stories of sports halls, football pitches, informal learning spaces and state-of-the-art education suites designed to facilitate four interactive zones — Education, Health and Wellbeing, Sport and Play, and World of Work. These areas have been carefully designed to deal with the region’s biggest challenges and will create life-changing opportunities for local people to re-energise local communities.

In February the Harrison Centre committed to opening a dedicated workshop within the Beacon of Light. It will provide a range of programmes designed to increase skills and access employment opportunities by connecting people to the real life of work.

  1. Social Mobility Pledge 

The Harrison Centre has partnered with the former Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, to form the Social Mobility Pledge for business and employers.

The Pledge was launched in a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall in March and asks businesses and employers to commit to three steps:

Firstly, partnering with schools, secondly, giving access to apprenticeships or work experience opportunities to disadvantaged young people and thirdly, having open recruitment practices that promote a level playing field for candidates, such as name blind recruitment or contextual recruitment.

During the debate, Justine Greening said: “I hugely thank David Harrison and the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility for crucially supporting the work to enable us to launch the pledge today. The social mobility pledge is about three things: partnership between schools and businesses; businesses offering access to work experience or apprenticeships; and businesses having recruitment practices that are transparent and open, to promote a level playing field for talent.”

  1. Solutions to Big Issues

A founding principle of the Harrison Centre is to be an innovative, pioneering and disruptive influence, constantly in search of new and better ways to solve entrenched problems of social mobility. To do this, we are working with The Lord Bird MBE.

Lord Bird is a life peer in the House of Lords and is best known as the founder of The Big Issue magazine. Our work with Lord Bird will involve research into the root causes of poverty and barriers to social mobility and what can be done to dismantle them.

Already Harrison Centre donations and initiatives have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom come from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

But we are just at the beginning. Social mobility is not about quick fixes but changes that will last for a lifetime. There is a lot more to come in the months ahead.

The Harrison Centre is proudly supported by the Harrison Foundation.