In September, Business Spotlight featured our CEO & Digital Business Advisor Kevin Lovelady
Thanks to Ana Syed and Bev Howard and the team at Action Coach / Business Spotlight
Kevin discusses his work within Mersey Youth Support Trust charity. The charity has been active in Merseyside for a number of years, bringing in support to young people and entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and follow their dreams!
#MYSTMerseyside #smallbusiness #entrepreneurship #merseyside #liverpoolcityregion #workforyourself #empowerment
All right good morning everybody today I’m here with Kevin Lovelady from mymyst and I’d love for you to start Kevin with just a bit about your company name and how you guys got started
okay so yeah MYST stands for Mersey Youth Support Trust and we’ve been here established since 2012 in Kirkdale and Liverpool. It’s a charity and the aim is to support entrepreneurs from who face certain barriers to maybe conventional employment so we try and take them through the process right from is it right for them, we give them support, run courses and we also have some subsidized office space as well but they’re not obliged to take that because our support will go irrespective of that
Obviously post-Covid we’re just in the process of refocusing everything and starting to get back in touch with local organisations who will hopefully provide the contacts and the interest so we’ll be running teaser workshops with certain organisations who deal with disadvantaged people and that can go right from sort of domestic abuse to ex-offenders to generally NEET people. Our programs will be adapted to each one of those sorts of sectors
Amazing it sounds like you guys are doing some incredible work there but I’m just curious how do you got started in this what kind of drove the initiative to get this off the ground
Back in 2012 there was a London Youth Support Trust which was established with the help of the Rank Foundation which is an amazing story in itself. Mr Rank, for those people old enough to remember the cinemas and the film producer, put through various people completely anonymously supported them through education, helped them get their foot on the ladder as regards careers. When he died back in 72 it all came out that he had put all these people through so they got together set up the Rank Foundation, they became Rank Fellows. About three or four of them set up the London Youth Support Trust, Merseyside was the second one to be set up. In various guises around the country now there’s about four or five of them. The makeup of those is slightly changed and there’s ourselves and the Shropshire sister organization, Shropshire Youth Support Trust which have still got the Youth Support Trust in the title. Others have slightly rebranded but they’re still very much engaged with mainly 18 to 30 35 year olds but if there’s a need for it outside of that age range of 35 we will look at that as well.
Amazing and that’s so interesting as well to hear how kind of history and the support of entrepreneurs as this was kept a secret kept secret for his whole life they didn’t know exactly
Apparently a lot of it was done through churches and it just all came out when he when he died and obviously whatever the process is for everybody and all this sort of stuff
In terms of growing the business and building the business in this specific model what are some of the challenges that you guys encounter
Obviously as a charity the main issue is around funding. We’re lucky in the sense that we have got a revenue stream of our tenant businesses here and so we’ve got 26 offices in Kirkdale and so that generates most of the you know regular income. We sublet in an amazing building in Kirkdale which is owned by LA Productions again another fantastic organisation and then the rest of it is funded via bids. We’re just starting to look at fundraising which has never really been done in anger before I took over from the previous manager at the back end of last year and so I’ve come in and sort of looked at it with a fresh pair of eyes and we’re trying lots of stuff. I’ve changed quite a few things, ruffled a few feathers and we’re trying to expand the team. It’s been very much run sort of on two people over the last 10 years or so and so I’m trying to expand the team. We’ve now got a bid writer on board we’ve got a guy doing our helping us with our finances and digital transformation and he’s doing that for pro bono at the moment and the trustees are very keen to take it forward again to what it was. Maybe sort of four or five years ago it dropped off and then obviously Covid didn’t help so we’re now starting to really sort of ramp it up again hopefully over the next 12 months or so
Absolutely. In terms of the future of MYST what do you guys see happening what would you like for them for the charity to become
So we need to this year for the next probably 12 months we’re taking it back to basics. We want to get our support services back up and running to the levels they were say probably four or five years ago, running courses, outreaching into the community, outreach to certain organisations, re-establishing partnerships, setting up new partnerships and so that’s really the main focus for the next 12 months is to get that all in place. My background is digital so we’re going through quite a big process of digital transformation, bringing in CRM, accounting packages and there’ll probably be a whole host of integration issues that go with that so there’s that. As I say re-establishing the support services and then really the aim is and it has always been the aim to set up a second hub, a third hub for example on the Wirral or maybe sort of north of the Liverpool City Region but that’s you know that’s a sort of you know that’s a long-term priority. Short to medium term is just to get the thing back up and running and doing what the amazing work that you know that’s been done in the past. We just need to build on that again.
For sure that sounds incredible and I do think that obviously there’s an area of expansion there that could be so beneficial for so many people in terms of the work it is that you do specifically with young entrepreneurs. Can you talk us through the kind of support that you offer, what can someone can kind of expect from coming to your charity
Whether it’s through our social media which we’re we’re looking to push again or whether it’s through our partner organisations. If it was somebody coming up with an idea, there’ll be an initial maybe hour long chat about what it means to be self-employed the pros and cons it’s not for everybody and we will then and if so that’s an individual coming in. If we go out to an organization we’ll give like a taster session. I’ve just given a general pre-start overview along the same lines as the individual chat and then the aim is to put them onto a program which will take them right through so there’d be modules on number crunching, finance, marketing modules, sales modules, eco-sustainability module and mindset and well-being that a lot of enterprise initiatives cover. We don’t claim to be unique in that respect but where I think we do provide you know a USP or whatever is the fact that we will go out and actively seek areas and organisations which are dealing with disadvantaged people. The other thing is as I said we’ve got the subsidised office space and if someone takes that, it’s heavily subsidised the first year, second year it becomes we sort of sit down with them review where they’re at in their in their business journey and increase that rent slightly to start moving them towards such a commercial basis. The program really that’s that sort of pathway is like two to three years and then really we want to make sure we with the support that we’re providing we want to then move them on and get the next set of businesses in and hopefully that sort of waiting list will come from running courses on an ongoing basis you know over the 12 24 months even when we’ve got people in here.
Yeah I mean all of that support it sounds so extensive it covers really covers all bases but is there any particular area or module maybe that you yourself would consider as a as top priority
yeah I’m very keen on ensuring that the program deals with the sustainability issue at the moment which I think is pretty much which is very under represented in in my view in a lot of enterprise programs. We deal with an amazing organisation called 2030 Hub in Liverpool city centre who are the first United Nations local hub and set up by a guy called David Connor so we’re going to be working quite closely with him and some other organisations as well in the in that sphere. The aim is to bring in you know we want to have a a database of volunteers pro bono services who can come in so we’ll have two or three marketing people who can come in and do our marketing module, same for finance, all the other all the modules will be subcontracted for want of the better word and uh yeah but for me personally it’s uh I have to be careful because obviously you don’t want to put your personal stamp on it too much. There’s other factors I want people to give us like devil’s advocate on that but yeah I’m very interested in the sustainability aspect of it and probably secondly would be the mindset you know which again is maybe slightly underrepresented on some of the uh enterprise courses but uh yeah but we’re going through that we’re going through an exercise at the moment of refining all that type of thing
yeah I mean sounds brilliant and definitely I would definitely agree with you sustainability especially in this current climate and is so important and I think a lot of businesses maybe they are more thinking on growth and development but the kind of effects that they’re having on the environment around them and the cause and effect of everything I was actually listening to a really great podcast today I don’t know if you listen to Stephen Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO yeah yeah yeah with them the Brewdog and he was incredible talking about how they are the first carbon negative brewed beer company and they’ve done loads of different initiatives to kind of uh decrease their carbon footprint you know building a forest and all of this stuff to kind of intentionally kind of decrease what they’re kind of putting out there but if more maybe entrepreneurs kind of focused on the sustainability part of it or maybe spent a little bit more time rather than all the monetary and growth and like maybe i feel like the other flashy parts of it yeah you could feel that could be for the best for sure yeah
Yeah fantastic yeah I do think it’s uh I do think obviously you know and even I say David was saying to me that this year it just seems that people have started coming up saying “you know that thing you’ve been banging on about for about 10-15 years how do you do it”
Yeah literally oh wow yeah yeah I mean I’m just conscious of time now but for people to kind of get in touch with you guys and take advantage of everything that you offer and even support you and where is the best place for you to find them
Yeah so the website is mymyst that’s uh and for mark mike or whatever it is and so it’s mymyst dot co dot uk or our social media handles are myst merseyside and you know that all the phone numbers contact emails uh can be found by that that we’re just about to uh start a little bit of a fundraising campaign so that’d be great if people in august look out for miles for missed hashtag miles for myst that’d be amazing
okay wonderful I’ll be sure to include that in the in the description so miles from amazing build some noise around that because thank you today Kevin looking forward to getting the news out there
Fantastic really appreciate it Anna and thanks to yourself and Bev for giving us the opportunity
Anyways okay take care thank you