Light Bulb Moment: James Moody on the first graduates from his charity's academy

An insight into the working life of the chief operating officer of the House of St Barnabas, a homelessness charity

James Moody
James Moody

We run an employment academy for people who experience homelessness. It is a 12-week programme with a graduation ceremony at the end. We started the first programme in October 2013, and the first graduation ceremony was held in February 2014. This was a huge moment for me. I'd got to know the seven graduates well over the previous 12 weeks, and this knitted together all the planning we had done and everything I had in my mind about what it would feel like to attend - it was great to see all of that translated to real people.

We've had five more graduations since then, but it is that first one that has really stuck with me. It was such hard work to get there, and I had this moment that I wasn't expecting - a moment in which I realised that this actually worked.

If you had a blank piece of paper and set about designing a social enterprise, the idea of running a members' club with an employment academy would not be the one you'd come up with. There are so many things that look odd individually, but when put together really seem to work. I think the graduation made us feel special as a team because we'd done it with a relatively small group of people and created something new. You're really mindful that you need to get it right, or you want to get it right, because there are people you are doing this for.

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