Cemal Ezel, John Bishop, Cherie White and Alex Smith have been announced as UnLtd’s first four Pioneers: a dedicated and driven group of enterprising people who are determined to use their big ideas to change the world for the better.

Who are the UnLtd Pioneers?

Cemal Ezel, founder of Change Please: Since 2010, homelessness has doubled in the UK. Now, over 4,000 people sleep rough every night. By the end of the decade the number of UK coffee outlets is set to hit 21,000, creating over 100,000 jobs. Change Please uses coffee as a way out of homelessness; training homeless people to become baristas and provides a London-living wage job, housing, a bank account and extra support for people too.

John Bishop, founder of Evolve: Evolve’s health mentors help children to succeed and achieve their potential. As policy makers start to understand the direct relationship between health and educational success, headteachers are demanding grassroots solutions that drive achievement whilst addressing the challenges that children face whilst growing up in the digital age. This is a movement that’s bigger than just education or public health: it’s about changing the way we support children by bringing together key stakeholders including parents, schools, local authorities, community groups and policy makers.

Cherie White, founder of Think for the Future: This venture provides schools, teachers and disadvantaged communities with innovative solutions to remove barriers to their success, tackling pastoral and behavioural problems that are preventing participants from reaching their full educational potential.

Alex Smith, founder of The Cares Family: A group of community networks of young professionals and older neighbours who socialise and support each other in London and Manchester. Loneliness has been shown to be as bad for people’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and can bring on strokes, heart attacks and dementia. And one in ten GP appointments is made by an older person with no other condition than that they’re lonely. 77% of North London Cares participants say their isolation has been reduced through this model.

Each UnLtd Pioneer has been selected because they are leading a venture with a proven business model that is already succeeding in creating deep impact and solving specific social problems.

“Today’s social challenges require brave and bold solutions. That’s why we’ve brought the UnLtd Pioneers together, because they are delivering some of the most enterprising answers to the complex social problems the UK faces,” said Mark Norbury, UnLtd CEO. “The Pioneers are already changing lives, creating jobs and boosting economic opportunity. The Pioneers have huge potential to transform our world for good, and UnLtd will support them to do so. We want to celebrate them and inspire other people – whether to start-up a social venture, buy from one, or support one. This is how we will take social entrepreneurship mainstream.”

Over the past four-years, UnLtd has been supporting high growth social ventures through its flagship accelerator the Big Venture Challenge, the new UnLtd Impact Fund and its innovative Thrive product. The UnLtd Pioneers will take this support further, creating a ripple effect of social impact through capturing the public’s imagination in remarkable stories of large-scale social change.

“Improving your community comes tough and slow and – by definition – it can’t be done by one person,” Alex Smith, founder of The Cares Family, said. “It takes people embedded in their place, working together, listening, organising, bootstrapping, taking a punt and learning along the way. UnLtd has helped so many people with big ideas to improve their communities. They’ve been a constant in the development of The Cares Family over seven years. That’s why I’m so thrilled to be one of UnLtd’s Pioneers and to work with them to progress our vision of better connected communities in a time of rapid change.”

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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