What Happens Now?
Set up to change the way that cultural narratives are represented, What Happens Next works with young people to challenge the sometimes conflated and sensationalised representations in today’s media.
Working in Glasgow, Jennifer Bates (founder) runs workshops with youth groups to increase their awareness, boost confidence to tell their own stories, and develop their theatrical skills. She founded her social enterprise with her co-founder Brian, combining their theatrical and teaching skills.
“This social enterprise was born out of frustration, as many things are. We identified the Social problem. The cultural narratives that are being told. The stories we that we are told. They were so often being simplified and sensationalised. We saw fear and hatred being spread through media streams and the relentless pace of 24-hour news. Narratives of ‘us’ and ‘them’ being encouraged and normalised. Children and young people everywhere, online or watching tv. They soak it in.
Young people need safe places to process their experience of the world. Without opportunities to question and process in a creative way, young people face a real risk of growing up feeling frightened and powerless in the world.
By encouraging young people to think as storytellers, we ask them to question the world they live in and imagine how it can be better. This can inspire a new generation of young people, full of self-confidence and awareness, to make informed choices and become engaged and active citizens”
Any top tips for budding social entrepreneurs?
“The vision and the ideas are the easy part for me. Starting up a new enterprise is so much about the person and their own passions and drive and, as I have discovered, insecurities. For me it’s about not letting those insecurities get in the way. I’ve got to keep reminding myself why I am doing this and why it matters. This thing is bigger than me.
The folks at Firstport are absolutely brilliant, always on hand and ready to help in any way they can. There’s so many workshops and meetings that you can go to, and when I go to these I feel a new surge of energy and enthusiasm. It can get lonely so I would totally recommend these events.”
Are there any challenges that you’ve faced when setting up your social enterprise?
“For me, it’s my personal doubt and want for perfectionism. This can cause a bit of writers block. I want it to be so great that it can often stop me in my tracks! It’s funny because when I just do it and get over that fear and, I’m doing the work, leading a workshop or pitching and planning with the council or teachers, it feels so natural, so easy and it just flows. It gets exciting and alive.”
So…what does happen now?
“Oh, so many ideas! I’d love for the company to really kick off and work with many different groups of people. I’d love the company to be sustainable, I want to start projects that have roots and can grow into something bigger and reach more people. I’d love for the work we do to make an impact, to change people’s perceptions, to give back a little bit of power that may have been lost somewhere. I’d love for this company to be a game changer. I’d love for people to be changed by the work we do – for that to ripple out into society, into the world.
Ultimately, we start these companies to fly our flag, to tackle that frustration in us, to make the world a kinder, more compassionate and caring place to live in. I love meeting other social entrepreneurs who are flying their own flag, working with their own frustration and changing the world in their way. It gives me energy to believe we are all going in the same direction, doing our thing and making a difference in our own unique way. I thank them all for that.”