April 15, 2013 Crossing over the Bridge (60) “The Creation of Social Capital & Creative Entrepreneurs”

Listen to Program. Crossing over the Bridge (60) “The Creation of Social Capital & Creative Entrepreneurs” Panel: Rachel Gilkes Founder Chutney for Change – Former Member of the Royal household & Student BA (Hons) Social Science at the College’s University Centre & Dr. Craig A. Hammond Lecturer University Center Blackburn College, England, United Kingdom.

rg1bRachel Gilkes a former member of the Royal household has been crowned National Student Entrepreneur of the Year by student TV programme, ‘The Grad Factor’. University Centre at Blackburn College student Rachel Gilkes, 37, who is currently studying BA (Hons) Social Science at the College’s University Centre which is validated by Lancaster University, scooped the prestigious award at the Google campus in London for her social enterprise idea ‘Chutney for Change.’ The project involves engaging disadvantaged people from the community to create chutneys, jams and preserves from the surplus fruit and vegetables donated by growers, markets and national retailers. The company has already had interest from a national supermarket chain, which is keen to sell the chutneys in its stores. Mum of two Rachel was previously part of the catering staff at Buckingham Palace, before going on to set up her own restaurant business.

More recently, she launched a company that specialises in making homemade breads and cakes. Rachel says:  “The idea came about when a local commmunity centre’s transport was cut. “I started to think of a social enterprise project where we could make something collectively to sell and it all spiraled from there.  Essentially it’s a community project where the people making the chutneys will get training and a new set of skills, and the people buying the product will be directly contributing to the local economy and society by potentially changing these peoples’ lives.

“I’m really pleased I won National Student Entrepreneur of the Year, and the money I won will be ploughed straight into the business. I really believe social enterprise is the future for the growth of our country, so that’s why I decided to go back to education to study a degree which encompassed all the disciplines of social science.  We need to start giving back to our communities, so if you want to get involved then please get in touch.”

Born into an archetypal working-class family in Blackburn, Lancashire, UK, and, growing-up in an environment of ‘Working Men’s’ Clubs, 2nd Division football, and, eventually, Manchester-based ‘indie’ music and associated local gangs, Hammond fared abysmally at school. With little other option, at the age of 16 he joined the Army – the Life Guards (as part of the Household Cavalry Ceremonial Mounted Division). Hammond can look back now, and, meditate with the safe distance of hindsight, (but not regret), upon the dark times that followed him into the brief stint as a teenage soldier; and, beyond this, working on rotating 3-shifts as a weaver in a local textile mill, until his early 20’s. Fascinated with film, he harboured an undisclosable ache. He was a dreamer, a day-dreamer, an introspective and sensitive thinker, and nothing at school, or indeed, his immediate environment provided a creative or productive outlet for these secret and expectant day-dreams and aspirations for adventure, exploration, and possibility. He wasn’t much of a reader either, but could always make time for The Magic Faraway Tree, fairytales, and, later, Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

ch1Dr. Craig Hammond. His working class life had been pretty much mapped, that was his lot, and therefore, was expected to get on with it (and he did, without really thinking about it).  But, in his secret inner world, he still had dreams, romance, and aspiration in his filmic and creative inner-world escapes. As part of the strident and aggressive ascendency of his working-class youth, Rocky, First Blood, and Warriors were all to be added to his filmic-escapology, alongside the reflectively spatial The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, and Elephant Man. Whether real or not, a filmic gap then appears to traverse his late teens and early twenties – until Shirley Valentine pierces through, and in, to his world of frustrated and disappointed hopes; this was followed by a very public catharsis in response to his first viewing of The Shawshank Redemption. Alongside subsequent revisitations of Watership Down he started to remember; a sense that something had been abandoned somewhere, a once aspirant adventurer, a dreamer, who believed in possibility, and, the transformative and creative power of certain ideas.

He was never much of a philosopher – that came much later – but through the redemptive metaphors, nostalgic traces and, cathartic encounters embedded within these popular films, his life journey was to become strangely and bespokenly signposted. More than this, these films have in some way sporadically guided and empowered him, over many years, against often brutalist and overwhelming odds to dream, remember, hope – and ultimately (eventually) dare to stretch and reach-out towards something potentially better.

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