With an average of only 11% of employees in creative industries coming from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and with the increasing cost of living in London, barriers to employment in creative roles are commonplace. This year the Creative Circle Foundation officially opened to break the mould of the traditional routes into the industry offering education, mentoring and employment to young people across the UK.
The Foundation is a free full-time school to help people from diverse backgrounds, who couldn’t normally afford - and wouldn’t usually come into contact with - one of the existing advertising courses available in the UK. The school will cater for 15 students and begins term in September 2018. The course consists of a one term boot camp, followed by two terms touring agencies working on briefs, before a guaranteed six-month industry placement.
LBB Awards Director, Paul Monan, is amongst many industry professionals stepping forward to support the cause. Running in this year’s London Marathon, Paul is donating 50% of the money he raises to The Creative Circle Foundation. We catch up with him to find out why…
You're running the marathon for two causes PNH, and the Creative Circle Foundation. Firstly, tell us about the PNH Support and why you're deciding to run for it?
I first found out about PNH Support last year, a few weeks after my younger sister Kate had been diagnosed with Paroxysmal Nocturnal Haemoglobinuria in late 2017.
It’s an incredibly rare blood disease that sees your blood cells vulnerable to attack by the part of the immune system that’s called ‘the complement’. Most patients are diagnosed when they’re in their 30s or 40s, but my sister discovered it at aged 21.
As a disease that she’ll likely live with for the rest of her life, it’s something that we’ve all had to get to grips with and fortunately there’s a wonderful support network in the PNH Support community that we can tap into both online and in the real world by way of a Facebook group and local meetings.
I went along with Kate and my mum to a group meeting at the end of the year and discovered a wonderful group of people, both patients and their friends and family, who come together to discuss their experiences, offer each other support and find out what’s going on in the PNH world - there are multiple treatments being trialled so being in the know is very handy!
As a small charity that’s very quickly become something close to home, I’d love to do a little bit to help raise some cash for them to continue their stellar work across the country.
The Creative Circle Foundation is something you've been involved with for the past few years. Can you tell us about the work they do, and why you think it is important?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside the Creative Circle for the last few years and see first-hand the hard work that’s gone into bringing the Creative Circle Foundation to life.
Jeremy and the team aren’t just talking about our industry’s diversity issues, but actively trying to do something about them.
The Foundation is a wonderful initiative that will see a class of students being put through their paces on a one year ad course across both the classroom and the workplace.
Most importantly, the students that will be enrolled are those who would not otherwise be able to break into an expensive London-centric industry where ‘who-you-know’ is still the easiest route into work.
It’ll be students from outside London, from less affluent backgrounds that will be the focus of the Foundation and I can’t wait to see the first intake get started in September!
How's the training going so far?
It’s proper hard graft. Before I’d found out that I’d been accepted onto the marathon, the furthest I’d ever run was 10km. Once.
I’ve dabbled in exercise over the years but I’ve never trained for anything properly, so I’ve gone relatively hard-line and as soon as 2017 became 2018 I ditched the booze (and consequential cigarettes!) and started following a proper training plan.
We’re getting into the tail end of it now and the distances are creeping up. I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m able to run double-digit distances only a few months after struggling to tackle 5k!
Other than donate how can people support PNH and the CC foundation.
Unless you’re affected by PNH directly or indirectly, then it’s unlikely you’ll be attending any of the meetings so donating to the cause is probably the best course of action.
But for the Foundation, there are so many things that we can do collectively as an industry to champion diversity at a grassroots level and help those looking for their first break in advertising in the same way many of us were given an opportunity back in the day.
Whether it’s helping me hit my fundraising target, sponsoring a student to go through the course, hosting a student throughout their placement or speaking at one of the many events the Foundation will be putting on - any time or resource you can spare will help the Foundation realise it’s ambition to champion diversity in advertising.