Sade Banks-Brown, Founder & CEO
I’ve decided to set up Sour Lemons because I want to give young people that come from backgrounds like mine the opportunity to take control of their futures. At the heart of Sour Lemons is the belief that any disadvantage that life throws at you can be used as an advantage. In other words, any sour lemon can be turned into lemonade. This is exactly what I have done with my life, and now I want to use my experiences and skills to help young people from similar backgrounds to do the same.
As a young person, I was excluded from two secondary schools, sent to a pupil referral unit and appeared in court twice. I left home at 14 and have always been a self-starter - I’ve never been afraid to roll up my sleeves. In 2010 everything changed for me. I started an apprenticeship at the Bush Theatre and at the same time got my first ‘proper’ accommodation with Centrepoint, which you can read about in the Evening Standard and The Indpedendent for their Christmas Campagn. Since then I have gone on to achieve some incredible things like...
- setting up the first ever youth parliament for Centrepoint
- developing strategies and projects to engage diverse communities and young people for The Bush Theatre, The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and the Barbican Centre
- being headhunted by Ogilvy and Mather to work in advertising
- receiving an award from Prince William for ‘Turning my Life Around’
- giving inspirational talks at the House of Commons and City Hall
- becoming a trustee of the TBAP Trust (a pupil referral unit I was once excluded from)
I have been told many times that my story is unique but I don’t want it to be. I want to see more young people from backgrounds like mine sitting around the decision making table and using their life skills to bring about real social change. We have to start somewhere so why not start here?
Are you ready to make some lemonade?
About the Pilot Programme
This is more than just a training programme. It’s a launch pad for diverse and talented young people from low-income backgrounds to get ahead in life. An opportunity to have new experiences, gain knowledge and develop networks that will put them on an equal footing to compete. Its overall aim is to increase social mobility by helping young people from low-income backgrounds into sustainable employment, and developing the next generation of creative leaders.
The funds raised in this campaign will go directly towards the pilot training programme which will give ten young people from low-income backgrounds access to the skills, knowledge and professional networks that will put them on an equal footing to compete in their chosen career field. It will include:
- Weekly masterclasses
- Employment bootcamps covering skills like public speaking, creative writing and CV development
- Professional mentoring with tailored personal development plans
- Task-based group projects, like producing an event
- Networking dinners with keynote speakers encouraging critical thinking. Speakers already signed up include: Andy Boucher, Partner at PwC; Gary Elden, CEO of Sthree; Josie Rourke, Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse; Michelle Morgan, Co-Founder and CEO of Livity; and Seyi Obakin, CEO of Centrepoint.
- Trips to cultural venues like theatres, galleries and music events
- Video diaries made with a professional filmmaker
- Arts Award Gold qualification
- Graduation ceremony
I’ve already got some great people backing me from organisations like Centrepoint, Unltd, Livity, The National Theatre, The Donmar Warehouse, The Young Vic Theatre, The Lyric Hammersmith, PwC, SThree, The Barbican and A New Direction, and now I am looking to raise the final funds to get the pilot ready to launch in Spring 2017.
About Sour Lemons
I am in the process of registering Sour Lemons as a charity. I have recruited a fantastic board of trustees and together we have submitted our application to get our official registration number with the Charity Commission.
Sour Lemons addresses the lack of social mobility in London by evening out the playing field for young people from low-income backgrounds. It does this by delivering bespoke training programmes that give these young people a practical insight into the qualities of great leadership and the capabilities they will need to thrive in a business environment. You can read more on our website here.