So I heard about O2ThinkBig a while back and I decided that it deserves a mention for those that have not heard of it.
I caught up with Cheryl Flack volunteer co-ordinator for the O2 ThinkBig programme to ask her a about what Think Big is and how you can get involved.
Oliver: Please can you tell me a bit about the aims of O2ThinkBig and what it does?
Cheryl: O2Think Big is a sustainability plan that O2 have come up with. The plan has been captured in a document they call the Think Big blueprint (http://www.o2.co.uk/thinkbig/blueprint ). This blueprint lists 40 commitments Telefónica (O2’s parent company) have made. Within these commitments, from a young person’s perspective, Think Big aims to fund young people’s community projects, offer them a different platform to learn from (www.o2learn.co.uk ) and offer them chances to gain work skills and experience through both Think Big Schools and www.gothinkbig.co.uk.
From a sustainability perspective O2 staff are working hard to reduce their carbon waste in their main offices and encourage sustainability amongst their stores and customers through initiatives such as http://www.o2recycle.co.uk/ and http://www.o2recycleforschools.co.uk/ also by removing chargers as standard so that people only take phone chargers when they need them. Another way in which they are thinking big is through the adoption of a zero-plastic bag policy. Check out all the Think Big commitments in the blueprint and you will see what commitments you could be on board with
Oliver: What sort of projects have you seen people starting? Can you give me any examples?
Cheryl: The projects are very varied, they all depend on the young person’s passions, influences on their life and the differences they would like to make. We have had people who would like to set up or maintain websites. There are young people who want to hold a community based event such as a cultural awareness days or those who would like to hold sessions to support or train people within their community. Some young people have held music festivals or events that raise awareness of social issues or tackle local issues. Some young people have refurbished community spaces or developed something their community will benefit from. Every project is different because every young person has a different issue they would like funding to address. To see some examples of the projects that have been successful in receiving funding take a look at some of the projects that can be seen here (despite the url this does not represent all the projects. Over 2,000 were funded in the last year alone) .
Oliver: Who would suit ThinkBig? What type of person?
Cheryl: Any person aged between 13 and 25 who have an idea that will improve their community. It can pretty much be most things really. The only rules O2 put on it are that it must not force people in to following a particular religion or political party, it cannot be dangerous or something you already do for a living. It also must have a start and finish step and must be UK based. The £300 also cannot go straight into a fundraising pot but if it was wanted for fundraising the £300 could potentially be used to run an event that aimed to fundraise.
Anyone who applies should be able to see the project through from start to finish with a supporter in place who can help if needed. Ideally they will be enthusiastic about their project idea and will use the opportunity to develop further skills. These skills might be around project management, managing a budget, planning an event or a variety of other relevant areas. The young person should focus their enthusiasm using the online tools (such as their cloud) to share their project with other people and tell us how they are getting on.
Oliver: What would you say to someone who has not thought of starting a ThinkBig project yet?
Cheryl: What would you like to make better about the place you live? Do you think there is something you could do in your community with £300?
If you have an idea and the drive and determination to get something done why not apply and see if we can fund you today.
Oliver: I can see on your website that the initial funding is £300 and those that successfully start their projects can then apply for £2500 funding, how many projects get through to this stage and what is the process like?
Cheryl: The next level of funding, level 2 (or Think Bigger as we like to call it) is an option made to those young people who actively use their cloud, tick off all of their project milestones on their cloud and take part in an exit interview following project completion. Level 2 is a bit more of a complex process and those young people who are successful don’t all get the full £2,500 it will depend on what their project really needs. Think Bigger project founders will be asked to attend training session that might be in the style of a residential or just day training events.
Only 15% of young people who complete their £300 project will be accepted to go on to Think Bigger. I think this year we can only take 150 young people through to Think Bigger
Oliver: What should people do if they want to get involved?
Cheryl: Join our Facebook group (you should be invited once your project is accepted) and use your cloud throughout your project ticking off your milestones as you go, and you should shout out to your family and friends and us in the Think Big team letting us know how your project is getting on. There will be opportunities to get involved in various events possibly including the Think Big gigs which have historically been around October/November time. On the Facebook page there will also be opportunity to apply for tickets that may be up for grabs or post questions for other project founders from Think Big and Think Bigger. I would say that you can get as much out of Think Big as you put in and if you really want to get involved then make yourself and your project known; don’t be a stranger to the Think Big team… we are all here to help and support you in the best way we can.
Oliver: Thank you so much for your time Cheryl!
Cheryl: Thank you Oliver
As Cheryl said, people have set up and maintained websites with the funding you might not immediately assume this looking at the website so go and surprise O2, there are no real limits if you are making a difference to people in your local community, and when I say this there is no real “limit” to the geographical area, just use your common sense. You could launch a viral campaign on social media sites if you so wished.. You could probably develop an app if you really wanted to, an apple developers licence is $99 a year so use your imagination!