End of an era as I sell the Wakefield Media Centre


I am marking the end of an era following the sale of my business, the Wakefield Media & Creativity Centre at King Street, Wakefield.

Being a former ‘Wakefield Business of the Year’, ‘Yorkshire Public Relations Professional of the Year, and ‘Yorkshire Regeneration Pioneer Award’ winner it ends a 35 year relationship with the city and Yorkshire.

I was founder director of the Wakefield Media Centre and former Managing Director of GREEN public relations. I’m now focussing on a new career, based in Barry Island in south Wales, where I am planning to launch in the New Year a new social enterprise, ‘Grow Social Capital’ to tackle the changing levels of social capital in communities across the UK.

I was an active figure in the Wakefield and the Yorkshire business community. I was a former Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Yorkshire group, creating in 1994 the world’s first Festival of Public Relations in Leeds – a week-long celebration of the public relations profession, a member of the first Board for the Huddersfield Media Centre and the Round Foundry Media Centre, Leeds, and also a judge on the Yorkshire Awards. (For my sins I was a member of the panel that bestowed the ‘Yorkshireman of the Year’ award on Jimmy Saville. I did atone with a contrite feature article in the Yorkshire Post many years later.)

For the Wakefield district I served as a Board member on the Wakefield City Centre Partnership, and also the Wakefield Theatres Trust. I set up a residents group at my home on St. John’s Square Wakefield, where on leaving we planted a tree to mark my family’s local roots.

My legacies for Wakefield and Yorkshire include:
• Transforming in the late 1980’s the County’s Yorkshire Day celebrations on August 1st with a national award-winning campaign which raised over 10 years an estimated £250,000 for local charities
• In 1991 saving the Leeds-based Treats Ice Cream company (later to become Richmond Ice Cream) from closure by Unilver
• Conceived and delivered an award-winning creative industries hub, the Wakefield Media Centre, creating new jobs, training opportunities and cultural events in an area hit by the decline of the mining industry and is still running after 14 years
• The ‘Story of Media’ statue on the outside of the Wakefield Media Centre building which I designed with local artist John Milsom
• Opening the first IndyCube co-working centre in England at the Wakefield Media Centre
• Putting Wakefield on the creative industries map with the first major public relations agency to be based in the city and establishing a local creative industries networks, the forerunner to the city’s Cognitiv group, now part of the Wakefield BID
• Creating an Investors in People backed graduate training scheme providing a chance for local graduates to get their first break in PR
• Five of my former staff now running their own public relations agencies in the region
• Was a founder director of the Bully-Banks campaign group which secured partial justice for 18,200 small businesses across the UK who were recognised as victims of bank mis-selling who received £2.2 billion in redress

Reflecting on my time in Wakefield and Yorkshire I became an adopted Yorkshireman and am both proud of helping others during my time, but also sad in marking the end of an era cutting my formal ties to Wakefield and Yorkshire.

 

 

We had many good laughs over the years. Like the time I had the idea of inventing a new art form ‘audio sculpture’ by making our Media Centre Britain’s only ‘moo-ing building’ (we broadcast the sound of a cow moo-ing every hour.) I got my old mate Jay Jones, who lives in San Francisco to do a photocall while he was visiting us, posing as a ‘Californian Audio Sculpturist’.

 

Major event to tackle social capital crisis

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Put this event and date in your diary – ‘A New Social Capital Agenda – new ideas for transforming the relationship between social capital, social media and citizenship’. Senedd, Cardiff November 10th 4.30pm for 5-7.30pm

I believe Wales and the rest of the UK has a long-term crisis. Unless urgent action is taken our society faces serious consequences.

Fewer of us are getting involved in doing things, running things or just hanging around with each other – how we help each other to help each other, or what is formally known as ‘Social Capital’.

This limits our capacity to connect, co-operate and collaborate. It affects the very heartbeat of our communities.

Whether it is recognizing two tribes who are increasingly having less to do with each other in Post-Referendum UK, of, or simply things that we took for granted no longer happening; the impact of declining Social Capital is becoming evident. And many say it’s getting worse.

There is a need for a ‘New Social Capital Agenda’ that overcomes both the challenge of declining Social Capital in our communities, as well addressing the failure of the concept of ‘Social Capital’ itself to gain wider traction among change activists. We need to learn lessons and start things differently. Quickly.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures & Commerce and others have been investing in practical new approaches to address these questions to make a difference.

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Why you need to be a Social Capitalist – Wakefield event

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The great people at the Wakefield Creative network Cognitiv have kindly invited me to speak at their forthcoming event in September, where I will be sharing ‘Why you need to become a Social Capitalist‘.

Here’s their news release. If you’re in the area do come along. Or at least spread the word.

 

SOCIAL CAPITALISTS, THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Cognitiv, the not-for-profit group supporting the creative, digital and IT community across the Wakefield district will host Cognitiv Means Business on Wednesday 7th September, welcoming Andy Green who will look at the importance of becoming a social capitalist and how this is the key to career and business success.

Taking place at 5.30pm – 7.30pm at The Arthouse in Wakefield, Andy will deliver a thought-provoking, inspirational and practical session ‘Why you need to become a Social Capitalist’. Opening your eyes to the hidden crisis our society faces he will provide you with new hope, tools and ways forward to help you, your organisation and the communities you serve thrive.

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Social Capital in action – 2 men strolling for peace and understanding

A wonderful real world social experiment shows the power of Social Capital in action.

Two men are filmed walking through different neighbourhoods. Nothing unusual about that – except one is clearly an Arab Muslim, the other patently a Jew.

Their journey creates different responses. From the majority there’s initial astonishment and bemusement – a psychological response perhaps to their making themselves comfortable about observing an uncomfortable reality.

A minority make the point of engaging and sharing their endorsement and support of what the two men symbolise, of people of different faiths and communities coming together.

One reaction however verges on violent repudiation, with the Arab being aggressively accused by one passer-by of being a ‘terrorist’: a consequence, no doubt, of the abuser only ever seeing people in Arab dress in the media, tagged as ‘terrorists’.

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How the BREXIT vote is the latest consequence of our Social Capital crisis

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How many working class people do you know? Did half the people you know vote Brexit?

The Referendum result revealed a disturbing reality of two tribes within Britain – and what’s worse they’re increasingly having less to do with each other.

It is all part of a hidden crisis within our society – the decline of Social Capital – and it was partly responsible for the recent Referendum result.

This hidden Social Capital crisis affects the very heartbeat of how our communities work. Fewer people devote themselves to the communal good. Less of us are getting involved in doing things, running things or just hanging around with each other – how we help each other to help each other – reducing our capacity to connect, co-operate and collaborate.

As a result, things we took for granted in our communities start to happen less and less, or not happen at all, and people are increasingly operating within distinct silos of like-minded people – and we are all poorer as a result.

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