I started my career age 17 in holiday resorts across the UK, working my way up to management. Following this, I moved to Manchester with only a bag and an idea to better my life. I worked in recruitment for 14 years, working my way up to regional director level. Coupling both my leisure and recruitment experience, I started the business six years ago firstly with investors then, during covid, I took on the business alone. It was tough during the COVID period, falling through the gaps of all grants and living on savings. But. I pushed the business forward through this period, believing in Box Leisure and the vision for the future. Doing this enabled the business to continue. And now, Thrive… Box leisure is bigger now than I ever dreamed, comprising of three companies. We are now, officially the number 1 leisure recruitment provider in the the UK. Its been flipping hard on the road to get here! We have won many awards which have been hardly earned by me our team. The difficulties I have encountered in my life I truly feel have lead me to this point. I could have easily given up at any stage. But I didn’t: all any of us need is determination and self-belief. I We all have this in us!
What are some of your driving values?
I come from a humble background. But I had very hard working, no-nonsense parents. This I learned from. I have always been focussed but there have been many times I could have fallen between the gaps myself. For example, being unable to work due to illness, the loss of both parents, Covid's impact on my workplace, and mental health. It has been a struggle for me but I am very lucky. Some are not. This, is where my passion comes from.
You’ve always been great at giving back, why is it important to you?
Because I could have on many occasions turned a different corner. Homelessness could happen to anyone in our society. This could have easily been me on many occasions. I really want to give back any way that I can.
I have lost jobs,
Had nothing during covid,
Had mental health issues,
Had deep grief.
I had to dance in nightclubs when I first came to Manchester to make ends meet. I have had times when I have had no money. I know what it can be like to be so close to the edge.
This is why I care.
Which causes are closest to your heart / one thing about society in the UK that you wish you could change?
Homelessness and poverty. Everyone deserves a chance to become what they want to be. If anything, I want everyone to be aware regardless of the current situation you could be in you too can turn the corner. Not all hope is always gone.
How did you get involved in the CEO Sleepout?
I was invited via linked in on some of the emotional posts I have put out there about my past experiences. I have a well-known presence on social media and this is because I am keen to share my feelings in a way that could help or motivate anyone in life or anyone around me.
What other ways do you "give back" or work to strengthen communities you work within?
As well as being driven, I have always been a caring person. If I connect with someone or something, I am dedicated for life. Such as Family, Friends, Business connections, Projects or indeed my business in general. Once I am there. I am deeply committed to them or it. Over the last few years it has been my huge privilege to be there closely for both of my parents to the end of their lives. I am fortunate to have some very deep connections in my life. I am so busy with these connections and of course my work and my business, but I feel here with CEO Sleepout I have found a cause here I am extremely passionate about. I would deeply love to help make the changes needed to end homelessness. Everyone deserves a home!
Name one thing you'd like people to know about your life and work:
I honestly feel everyone has that spark in them its just igniting it and self belief. I have worked hard to get to the stage I am, and I have had a very bumpy road to get here. If I could help anyone realise, they can change their life even just one person its totally worth it. Even if they are homeless or nearly become homeless there is always hope.
How might you see business playing a part in creating a fairer society here in the UK?
Leading from the front, With our experience in getting to a stage to have a business, Some people in business do not inherit a business, Inherit money or are given anything, Some have to work and push hard. Starting with nothing.
I feel these people have a voice because people will relate to them. Normal people with a normal story.
Why is it important that those in business lead with purpose?
There are too many people around the UK without a home. Manchester has one of the highest homeless populations. I see these people every day as I make my way through the city and Its truly heart-breaking.
I hear people saying that these people have somewhere to go, please think again.
There are so many reasons why someone may be homeless that you may not have though of…
These people are individuals who may have lost their home because of the pandemic, they may have lost their job, they may be on a zero-hour contract and not had enough hours given to them. They may be sofa surfing on friends’ sofas. It’s not their fault.
They may be families escaping domestic abuse, forced to leave an unsettled and abusive home. Home should be a sanctuary for all, It’s not their fault.
It could be someone who is escaping an unscrupulous landlord demanding more rent, it’s really not their fault.
If veterans’ charities are right, there could
be more than 13,000 war heroes living on Britain’s streets. Outreach teams have found people of all ages from all levels of service, sleeping rough with nowhere to go. And in almost every case they discover the same thing – post-traumatic stress disorder. It's not their fault they have found themselves on the street.
Any one of us could end up in these kinds of situations. Especially some of us who have had a bumpy road in the past.
By participating in a CEO Sleepout event, you’ll gain insight into the big issues surrounding homelessness and what – as business leader – you have the power to change. We hope you’ll be moved to create a positive social impact in your business, adding value that strengthens communities and society as a whole.