On Frontline Service – Year Here

This is a film by Year Here, originally posted on….


For four months, our Fellows serve in care homes, schools in poor areas, homeless shelters and community centres. Wrapped around that experience is a rigorous social innovation curriculum – but we think frontline service is the first step towards effective social leadership. Here’s why.


Today’s leaders get a lot of rap for their lack of diversity. That’s a problem – but what’s also an issue is that regardless of background, most of us have a fairly limited window into the diversity of human experience.

To understand social problems, we need to get an insight into how they actually manifest, on the ground.

Neil Mapes worked in care for years and saw that the elderly are often stripped of choices; in response he founded Dementia Adventure. Working as a teacher, Tom Ravenscroft realised that, for lots of young people, a natural progression into real life working environments isn’t assured. On the back of his experience he started Enabling Enterprise. It’s now the fastest growing social enterprise in the UK.

We want you to know the nuanced struggles of daily life in a mainstream public service. Fresh eyes, combined with depth of understanding, can open up a new angle on a problem.


Most social problems are complicated enough to seem perennial, intractable and depressing. If they are not directly affecting you – you are not reminded of their reality day in, day out – you might find your drive for action fizzles out.

Zone in on the person behind the problem, and you can flip perspective. Direct experience of the people behind an ‘issue’ demands empathy. Empathy is the antidote to apathy.

When we are moved to care, we are motivated to act.

In the film, Jon Huggett talks about his experiences being in jail as a student as part of a social action scheme. Decades later, Jon remains involved in the criminal justice sector and serves as the Chair of violence-reduction charity Khulisa.