We are proud to support start-up and growing businesses in our Incubator Hubs, Aldridge Creates. The hubs are situated in the heart of our schools, bringing enterprising companies into students’ everyday lives. This new feature on our blog will shine a light on our great Creates members, their passions, history and plans.
This week, we caught up with Phoebe Praill, who’s company – The Bridging Project – occupies one of the spaces at KAA Creates.
Firstly, tell us about your business and how why you wanted to start The Bridging Project.
The Bridging Project is a non-profit organisation which aims to ensure that students’ success at university is not determined by their socio-economic background.
I started the project due to my experience as a teacher, it was here that I became aware of the difficulties faced by pupils, who had gained places at top universities only to face significant problems when they got there. Research shows that this is not unique, students from low income backgrounds are twice as likely to drop out. Whilst universities have many support services in place, students most in need of this support are the least likely to reach out for it. The project bridges the gap between school and university. We match up students with professional coaches to ensure that all young people can make the most of their university experience and gain meaningful employment.
We’ve worked at Oxford University, Queen Marys London, Kings College London, St Marys Twickenham and University College London and are looking to expand into more universities next year.
What advice would you give to a young person starting out?
You don’t need to have it all figured out! If you are interested or passionate about an issue start doing something, speak to people, begin an initiative and see where it takes you.
Starting out on your own can be quite daunting but there is plenty of support out there and a lot of it is about having confidence in what you are doing. I spent a lot of time speaking to other entrepreneurs in the sector before I started the business which really helped.
Where can our students / audience find out about you?
Our website is coming! www.bridgingproject.co.uk or follow us on Instagram at @thebridgingproject
We are so happy to have you at Creates, what made you want to join our community?
The Creates Community is really exciting – it is based in Kensington Aldridge Academy where I have worked for the last 4 years. Working here means I can work with students, get their input and feedback, whilst I grow the business. There are also two other businesses based here so it’s a great opportunity for collaboration.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running your own business?
Seeing the impact that your work is having on other people and knowing you are responsible for that. It is also really exciting seeing something grow from an initial idea into something much bigger.
What do you see as your greatest achievement?
We have recently won the Shackleton Leadership Award, this is really exciting and means we can continue to support more students heading off to university in September! You can read more about it here. We were really honoured to win the award; the foundation supports some incredible social leaders whose projects benefit young people in challenging circumstances.
Finally what do you do to unwind?!
I run… (slowly!) and often with friends, but it really helps!
What students are saying about The Bridging project:
‘The Bridging Project has enabled me to organise my priorities and helped me maintain financial stability. The coaching sessions have enable me to rationalise difficulties in my home life which were impacting me studies. This has hugely reduced the anxiety of transitioning from sixth form to university.’ English Student at QMUL supported by The Bridging Project
‘Phoebe has been an indispensable source of support, encouraging you to do things that are necessary, but might make you slightly uncomfortable – for me it was organising meetings and making contact with pastoral support around my college at Oxford. My transition to university has become far easier, and a lot more fluid, providing me with a solid constant that I could return to if any issues arose. The Bridging Project has enabled me to experience the full potential of university life, in a smart and proactive way, and I would even go so far s to suggest that through our one on one meetings in a relaxed and comfortable environment, that Phoebe has become a valued friend, and unwavering source of encouragement and motivation.’ Student at Oxford supported by The Bridging Project