Practising what we preach

As lots of you will know, I’m currently in preparation for the Virgin Strive Challenge – a mass-participation sporting event, requiring us to hike, bike and swim from the base of the Matterhorn to the top of Mount Etna. But why are we doing it?

Why have we spent months trying to squeeze in painfully long bike rides after a full days work? Or been taking part in huge open-water swimming training at an unearthly hour on a Saturday morning?

Because that’s exactly what striving is all about: breaking the norm and pushing to new heights; all the time remaining confident that you can succeed, no matter how hard the journey. 

The work Big Change does with young people is the driving force behind the Virgin Strive Challenge – it captures the heart and soul of every core members’ commitment to the challenge and the importance of having a growth mindset in order to succeed.

At Big Change we like to think of ourselves as providing smart philanthropy, or acting as a social impact accelerator. We don’t want to find short term solutions to issues and road-blocks for young people – we want to get right to the heart of them and work to create positive impact on a far larger scale. Early intervention for example, means we focus on preventing problems as opposed to simply treating the symptoms of a problem. We do this by setting young people up with the skills, opportunities and the support they need to thrive in life, not just in exams.

A good example of this is one of the projects we’ve supported most recently: How to Thrive. It’s an amazing programme that is supporting teachers, schools, and young people to build resilience – anything from dealing with setbacks, learning from failure, emotional intelligence, managing conflict and so on. We’ll tell you more about How to Thrive in due course.

In short, at Big Change, we back innovation. We want to find the best people with the best ideas and provide seed funding that will support the acceleration of their impact. By providing initial support we hope projects will then be able to go on and secure further investment elsewhere, and so on – like venture capital.

It’s a model we’ve tried and tested, and know works. We funded Frontline back in 2013, and three years on they gained multi-million-pound investment from the government to scale their work nationally. To this day, it is one of our biggest achievements and has me beaming with pride.

So in a nutshell, that’s what we do – and hopefully by completing the Virgin Strive Challenge we’ll be able to do much more of it.

There’s just a few more weeks left to train and get myself as physically fit and prepared as possible before we set off, and while it’s all becoming very real and nerve-wracking, I’m feeling more motivated than ever.

I have an unquestionable belief in the ability of young people and can’t think of a better focus for all of us taking part, than to continue the life-changing work Big Change has been doing. By continuing to challenge ourselves, we want to show future partners that we mean business and are prepared to practise what we preach.

Any support, whether on social media, or in the form of a donation to my Strive Challenge fundraising page would be hugely appreciated. Make sure you keep up with our journey by following the Virgin Strive Challenge on social media too!


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