Businesses and young people join forces to cross community boundaries and make a social impact in the North West

Posted on the 9th September 2019

Young children have a way of crossing boundaries and being unfettered by the traditions and mantras of their families and communities. As they grow older they may choose to find their own group of friends or be inducted into a local gang as the sense of seeking acceptance and belonging grows. This then often dictates the choices and behaviours that follow them into adulthood.

At Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, we have decided to channel this youthful freedom, inquisitive consideration and harness and enhance it with the help of local businesses, combining their particular strengths to address local social challenges. Together these groups, interacting as one, will reach out to the widest range of local residents to understand their local challenges and create local social solutions to address them.

Our aim is for these projects to help break down community barriers, begin to create a greater sense of shared community and leave a lasting local legacy. This is our vision. Our mission is to achieve a significant difference in just seven months and to establish projects and a robust and enjoyable method of community collaboration that continues to deliver value well into the future. We aim to reach 240 young people; engage 30 businesses and involve up to 300 residents in social projects.

Darwen Aldridge Community Academy are working in partnership with the Aldridge Foundation and the Blackburn Youth Zone to bring together young people and businesses from the entire Blackburn and Darwen area to deliver local social impact projects through the Switch It project.

The partners and businesses will help the young people to learn key enterprise and life skills which will not only help them with the local projects but will also support their academic learning and better prepare them for life in further education and the world of work. The businesses will have the opportunity to interact with young people from a wide range of backgrounds, gain a greater understanding of their perspectives and future aspirations.

Working side by side, they will together shine a light on the challenges and tensions across the local area and interact with residents who may well be outside of their usual circles. Together they will work up solutions to address the local issues and we hope that through working collaboratively and focussing on a shared purpose they will gain a greater understanding and respect for each other.

We’ve been busy planning, piloting and testing our approach over the last few months. We’re now ready to start recruiting both young people and businesses. We’ll be addressing school assemblies, local community groups and business associations and ramping up our marketing and PR over the next few weeks.

On 9th September we are holding a round table workshop event at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy for businesses who are interested in joining the programme. We’ll introduce the programme and explain how businesses can get involved and together start exploring the local challenges we hope the programme will address.

Our initial pilots focussed on a social action project reducing single use plastic supported by businesses such as Senator Group who gave a master class and acted as a judge for the pitches from the young people who took part. We’re now ready to launch the main programme. If you are a young person or business who wants to get involved please contact

We’ll be revealing more of our plans and thoughts over the following week and then we’ll keep you up to date with our live local projects. Visit our website at

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