Remember the next time you walk past a person sitting in a shop doorway that he or she isn't sitting there in the wind and rain as a lifestyle choice. They are there because something went wrong in their life and they are struggling to deal with it. They are someone's son, daughter, mother, brother or father. They could be yours!
Nigel is a veteran and pioneer of social enterprise and social finance; in fact, he was working in these spaces well before they even had names. He is the Chairman of The Big Issue, a social enterprise founded in 1991 enabling homeless individuals in the UK to earn a living, and the CEO of Big Issue Invest, a social investment business founded in 2005 that provides finance to social enterprises.
The UK is on the brink of a sea change. When it comes to starting a business, technology has levelled the playing field, opening up new opportunities for young people to drive change. More than half of those in the UK aged 18-25 want to set up their own business and almost one in six are now in the process of doing so, compared with less than one in ten only a year ago.
My starting point as Chief Executive was what if this could be a place where the pleasures and needs of one group may facilitate the dreams of others? And that this should be at the forefront of all our organisational decisions, from the training we offer to the members that join, the networks they bring with them, the cultural programming we create and the suppliers we choose to work with.
Last week I was invited to give evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) for its enquiry on citizens and public services. This is an important enquiry and has the opportunity to address some fundamental questions about the nature of our public services, and the Government's 'reform' and public expenditure programmes.
In an undiplomatic, tearful outburst at the current UN Climate Change conference, The Philippines representative told delegates their meetings have been called "an annual gathering of carbon-intensive useless frequent flyers." Judging by the successive failure of these international gatherings to reverse humanity's disastrous trajectory, many observers would agree with that frank assessment.
I can see the issue from both points of view, and the debate seems to have polarised with the solution probably being somewhere in the middle. I certainly don't think that zero-hours contracts should be banned outright. However, at my company, The Clean Space, nobody is on a zero-hour contract, despite them being extremely common in the cleaning industry as this list of vacancies shows.