Who we Are
Digital Youth Enterprise Academy, we believe in and practice the transformations of individuals and businesses. We focus on turning around young people’s lives, as well as on transforming local businesses, in order to allow young people to flourish in a more prosperous local community.
Sam Smith is a Life Transformer.
The first life transformation that Sam carried out was his very own. Growing up in very hard circumstances, facing parental rejection, Sam ended up in the care process, and eventually Strangeways Prison. During some of the worst ever prison riots, Sam at one point was convinced that he was going to burn to death. That was not even his lowest point, however. On leaving prison, Sam was unable to maintain any kind of regular life, so fell in once again with the wrong people. During this time, Sam discovered the body of his own brother, who had overdosed and died.
Later, Sam was given a priceless gift, his firstborn son. Holding that precious baby, Sam made a firm decision: he was definitely not going to allow his son to be subjected to the same life he had experienced. So Sam set off with his partner and baby son for Blackpool with all his earthly possessions in a bag.
Sam started his own business, and as the business grew, he reached out to other disadvantaged young people in the community, giving them strong mentoring and teaching to take advantage of the chances they were being given. Sam won many local and regional awards for his work with disadvantaged young people, from bodies like The Prince’s Trust and Shell Livewire.
During this time, Sam transformed the lives of over 320 very disadvantaged young people, taking them from despondency and joblessness, through hard work, to a purposeful and gainful lifestyle. Several of these young people set up their own businesses and are still operating them to this day.
Sam is very passionate about regenerating the youth and the businesses around him, on a local and national level.
Gordon Astbury is a Business Transformer.
Gordon started his business transformation career in 1988, working with a US based major transformation company, where he was trained in the theory and practice of process transformation. On his first ‘real’ assignment, Gordon and his managers discovered that he had significant skills in this process, and Gordon was quickly promoted to ever larger responsibilities.
Since then, Gordon has completely transformed businesses and their work processes all over the world, reengineering organisations and the way they work, helping many clients to work smarter, more efficiently and clarify priorities.
Gordon met Sam as a customer of one of his business entreprises, and was immediately impressed with the courtesy and professionalism of the young people employed; this developed into a friendship that has carried on to this day.
Sam and Gordon came together again during the reactions to the COVID Pandemic, and have pooled their talents in order to positively impact the lives of young people and business owners across Blackpool and the Fylde Coast.
We exist to help stalled and disadvantaged youths find a purpose, live law-abiding, gainful and fulfilling lives, contribute positively to society, and thus be a positive influence on their family, friends and the community at large. Our vision has four phases, which are outlined below.
Many young people find they have lost their way and end up getting involved in negative and damaging activities as a result. Our first goal is to lift up the heads of these young people, showing them that not only is there a way out and up, but confronting them with a live example who has ‘written the book and got the T shirt’.
We plan to visit schools, colleges and other educational institutions, with Inspiration Roadshows in order to give the youth a clear message: ‘You matter; you have a chance; you may have got stuck, but it is never too late. We are here for you.’
Once the young person’s attention is gained, and they can see the clear example that is shown to them, the empowerment process can begin.
We now work hard to discover what drives each young person, what may have held them back, and as we do this, we help them to select the tools that will help them recommence a positive life journey. Using appropriate equipment, often donated by our sponsors, we help the young person to discover how the tool, such as a social media platform or a laptop, can be used ethically and correctly to their advantage. We begin to see the ‘lights come on’ and now we supervise the young people as they use the tools for themselves, teaching less and coaching more, as they restart their journey themselves.
The young person now has the skill to use their selected tools to the advantage of others and themselves. At this point, we shift our focus to the will.
Motivation in a generic sense has, in fact, been addressed all the way along the young person’s journey with us from the very beginning. However, once they have the requisite toolkit, the motivation can be specific. We give the young person daily and weekly targets, monthly aspirational goals, and reward them when they achieve them. When they qualify, by achieving a goal, which might be their first sale, or their first website design, we place them on a ‘Wall of Fame’, where such achievements are pictured and clearly visible to others. By this stage, the young person is gaining a sense of purpose, which we intend to remain with them for the rest of their lives.
By this phase, if the young person has not yet been in work placements (most will already be in this mode), we place the remaining young people in controlled and monitored ‘try before you buy’ roles in our network organisations.
We demonstrate that motivation does not come from money, but that instead it comes from the sense of purpose within. Money is simply a reward for correctly applied motivation. We also demonstrate with examples of successful entrepreneurs, often in person, how such a sense of purpose can transform a life, a family, and even whole communities, by employing others.
The young person at this point will receive a recognised qualification, which will be formally presented by local celebrities and business leaders.
Having seen live examples of other transformations, having been equipped with skills, the knowledge and motivation of how and why to use their skillset, the young person is now ready to commence the transformation journey. Having worked hard on their skillsets and motivation, the next step for the young person will be clear.
The next ‘rung’ in the transformational ladder will of course differ for each young person, but will usually be one of the following options:
Further Qualifications or Training. Now that the ‘lights have been switched back on’, the young person may decide that the qualifications they once despised, or thought unattainable, are in fact worthwhile and within their capabilities. In this case, we help them select the appropriate course, and if required, help with their application.
Apprenticeship. Using our business and sponsor networks, we will introduce the young person who wants to be apprenticed, to the appropriate scheme. This can be under the Digital Youth Enterprise Academy itself, the I Can Trust network of trades and businesses, or the Offers4Locals.com network of members.
Business Incubator. We aim to encourage many young people to create businesses. All the young people are taken through an intensive 6 day training module on how (and why) to do this during the Empowerment phase, because we believe that this ability is essential, particularly in challenging and uncertain times such as we face today. Those who choose this route are placed in a controlled business incubator, where they are allowed to plan, market, test and develop their business idea without fear of failure.
Employment. For those young people who are ready for an employed position, we will now introduce them to an employer in their aspirational sector. In many cases, the introduction will be easy because they may well have been placed with this employer as part of the Motivation phase, but if this is not appropriate, we look to the rest of our networks (Offers4Locals.com, I Can Trust network, DYEA Sponsors, Car Care Guide network, or one of our 1,000 plus personal business contacts), to open a position for the young person concerned.
Following the Transformation Process
We don’t stop at this point. The young person knows that they can always contact us, they will remain in our sights, so that we can help wherever that may be required.
What About You?
We hope you were inspired by Sam’s story. Unfortunately, the issues surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic are making things even worse for today’s young people than they were during Sam’s youth. Today’s young people find themselves even more isolated, less able to find help, advice and jobs than ever before.
We want to do something about it, but we need your help. Please can you play your part, and donate, at whatever level you feel comfortable, to the Digital Youth Enterprise Academy?
Your much-needed investment in the next generation starts here: