Recently the crew from the Amazings signed up to yeah! Hackney to tell us about their social enterprise project connecting retired skilled people with those who want new skills. I caught up with Katie Harris the project lead to find out more:
Tell us what is The Amazings?
The Amazings is a new social enterprise starting in Hackney. It’s all about supporting people that are retired or are about to retire to package up their skills knowledge and experience they’ve accrued throughout their life to create activities the general public can buy.
An Amazing could be anyone – from someone that’s lived in Hackney their whole life, a retired butcher, a writer, someone that owns a barge on the River Lea – the list is limitless!
Our team help interested people think through what they’d like to do and where they’d like to do it – then we advertise it through our website (and soon on market stalls), handle the bookings and payment, all they have to do is turn up, be amazing and then collect the cash from us!
What you do with the cash is completely up to you – some people are using it as a nice little earner, some are using it to fundraise for a charity.
Why did you start it?
Our brief was pretty loose – we were asked to start something that supported positive ageing. Through our initial research with retirees, we realised that there were some seriously interesting people out there that had tonnes of great skills and stories. We also realised there weren’t that many ways for them to give that amazingness back to the rest of us.
People that were trying to do amazing things often found it quite difficult to get started – they didn’t have a website, they didn’t have the budget to promote it, they didn’t know who to contact to get a space to run it in. What we wanted to do is create something that removed all the faff and made it much easier for people with an idea to turn that into an activity.
Who are the people behind it?
I’m Katie – the Project Lead. I deal with the set up and general running of things, as well as help future Amazings plan their events. Then there’s Nikki, who’s our lead designer. She’s a graphics genius who is also assisting me setting the whole thing up. We’ve also got Katy, who’s the Event Co-ordinator. She’s in charge of making sure the events run smoothly and recruiting new Amazings.
The project is supported by Sidekick Studios, who got funding from the Technology Strategy Board to make this whole thing possible.
That’s a good question! I guess firstly, I live in Hackney and I love it here. I think it’s a great area to start new things like this as there are lots of creative, open minded people that are willing to give new things a go. This is why we’re starting with Hackney but planning to expand across London.
Secondly, It’s got loads of history and a really diverse population, which makes for some amazing stories and skills. I’m hoping by next year we would have expanded all over the East End in time for the Olympics tourist rush. I’d love it if The Amazings became the alternative tourist experience site – letting residents show visitors what the real East End is like, as well as giving tourists another option to generic open top bus tours in plastic policemen hats.
Tell us about your “Amazings”?
Our current Amazings are so varied – a steel drum teacher, a retired international chef, a lady that knows all there is to know about East End boxing history, an exhibiting photographer and screenprinter, a poet, a knitting expert, an African drum expert, a cake baking queen and a expert forager who starts sharing his skills on Sunday (tickets are available for sale now.)
The foraging activity is starting on Sunday and tickets are available for sale now – read more about it and book a place here!
What have been some of your favourite Amazings moments so far?
My favourite Amazing moment has been the response we’ve got when we’ve been out on the streets in our sandwich boards. Some people have literally run to us with open arms, desperate to get involved! Others have stopped us to tell us that they love the idea and would love to buy an experience.
Another great moment is when you talk to people that don’t really think they’re that amazing, then after a five minute chat it turns out they have a kabillion things they have done or learnt that are insanely interesting.
How can people get involved?
There are lots of ways people can get involved! The first is to buy a ticket to one of our amazing activities! The foraging activity is available now but we have plenty more things in the pipe line. Sign up to our mailing list to be the first to find out when new activities pop up.
We are constantly looking for Amazing people to take part. If you are retired or are about to retire and interested in getting involved, or just fancy learning more about what we’re doing, get in contact with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07946 542 989.
We’re also expanding and are recruiting for our Street Team. We’re looking for a real mix of people – the main thing is that you’re friendly! There’s more information on our website http://theamazings.org/join-our-street-team/
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Also, if you know of anyone that would be interested in taking part, please forward this to them!
You can also find the street team on Broadway Market in the school yard on a Saturday and Chatsworth Road Market on a Sunday.