Forward Foundation


Conscious Creators inspire through film

Forward Foundation was very proud to host the Conscious Creators screening on Wednesday evening.

We witnessed the culmination of months of hard work, as 10 young filmmakers had their work screened in front of an audience and a panel of judges. The young talents were asked to produce a short film on a topic that they felt was important to them, as well as being influential to its audience.

Conscious Creators is the brainchild of specialist education project Digital Disruption, which strives to educate young people about becoming active, rather than passive digital media consumers. The project aspires to improve young people’s critical thinking of the media, whilst helping them to digitally market their films.

All of the films were unique in their own right, and each one was produced to a very high standard. A whole bunch of highlights included ‘Imperfection is Perfection’, produced by aspiring musical artist, Flavio, Jemail’s message in ‘Don’t just think it, live it’, and Lateef’s fascinating parallel-narrative film, ‘Challenging Perceptions’.

The deserving winner on the night was Amina’s ‘Just Jay’, which explored the life of Jay, and the issues he has faced in being young and transgender. As well as being immensely moving, the film was professionally produced and inspiring. A huge well done to every body involved.

After an emotional night, we hope to see these talented young filmmakers continue their great work and go all the way. We’ll be keeping an eye out. 

Spend 5 minutes with our founder, Neil.

We think Neil is a pretty special guy. He has an inspiring story, a big heart and a great outlook on life - something we wanted to share with our friends, so we grabbed him for a few questions…


Oh look! revolving doors ! We are in the same compartment. You have about 5 seconds to tell us something about Neil… GO!

As the great Burt Bacharach once said, ‘I just don’t know what to do with myself.’

Your most important value?


Three hobbies?

I love the childlike joy I feel when riding my bike, learning new things and getting my nails done. One of those is not entirely true.

How did you end up doing what you are doing today?

I became an entrepreneur by accident really - I was just struggling to make ends meet in London and an after work hobby gradually evolved into a business. I think my competitive spirit spurred me to grow Forward as fast as I could. I now feel very fortunate to have a lot of flexibility in how I spend my time and to be able to put some focus on giving back.

Was there a time in your life where you might have followed a different path?

I wanted to be a stockbroker before university. No offence to stockbrokers but I’m rather happy I changed my mind. Instead I ended up listening to far too much reggae music, which led to building a reggae website (, sadly no longer with us!), getting a job as a web designer, learning about internet marketing et voila, Forward was born.


How did the Forward Foundation come about?

Shortly after starting Forward I realised I was out of my depth. I had no idea how to run a business. So I searched for some wise people to help and found an extraordinary man called Frank Herman, or ‘uncle Frank’. Frank sadly passed away a few years ago but I still remember clearly the last words he said to me – ‘do some good along the way, son.’ The Forward Foundation was set up to honour the last and probably most important piece of advice he gave me.

What is the biggest challenge you faced as a young entrepreneur?

Getting funding when you have no experience or track record is always very tough. Poor cash flow ends more businesses than anything else. I think the same applies globally and it’s great to see micro-finance businesses like Kiva revolutionising the start-up world.

One piece of advice to a young entrepreneur?

It’s all about people. Surround yourself with smart people, ideally smarter than you! Treat them as you would expect to be treated yourself, don’t let your ego get in the way and provide the best possible environment for them to flourish.

Your most successful failure?

I’m glad I was a rubbish web designer, or I wouldn’t have set up Forward. With every setback comes opportunity.


Tell us something most people don’t know about you? 

I practice transcendental meditation for 20 minutes twice a day. 

Who inspires you?

My parents. I wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood and count myself to be very lucky.

What keeps you going when you are having a bad day?!

Meditation. And those close to me.

Favourite animal? (and why)

Dogs. Unwaveringly loyal purveyors of endless joy. 

Describe a perfect Sunday. 

Doing any pursuit that brings about ‘flow’ – the state of total involvement that gives a feeling of transcendence. Or to put that less pretentiously - watching a film with nice company, a beer and some tasty grub. Maybe after cycling in the morning to alleviate the guilt of gluttony.

Thanks Neil! 

Read Neil’s blog about meeting Fresh Life entrepreneur, Rhoda in February.

Opportunity runs through the core of Hidden Talents Lab

Young Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic talents are significantly underrepresented in the UK media industry.  Many of these young people possess incredible skills, yet are overlooked because they don’t have a professional network or formal training.

Latimer’s Hidden Talent Lab has been giving 12 young BAME digital media talents the opportunity to break into the media, by developing their skills and introducing them to the industry.


So, how have they been doing that? Latimer co-creates cutting edge media campaigns with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, giving them the skills and networks to get into the creative industries. And by making use of Latimer’s resources, they are using their technical skills to create amazing apps, editorial, films and more.

These talented young people are undertaking work for over 20 of Latimer’s partners, including the BBC, ITV, Nominet and TalentHouse, who in turn are seeing the evidence of how valuable these Hidden Talents are.

Each young person is given a helping hand by an experienced media pro. These mentors range from BBC Producers to international Brand Managers; a pretty distinguished bunch!

The project has already started growing. A number of acclaimed mentors recently jumped on board, including Katie Swinden, Producer of the hugely popular BBC drama ‘Luther’, Mashe Kumar, Brand Manager of Smirnoff and Simon Oakes, CEO of Hammer Films.

The Hidden Talents team is also expanding. Recently joining the project are young comedian and YouTube sensation, A. Squeezy, budding actor Michael Salami, as well as rising star Sebastian Thiel, creator of YouTube channel UpShot TV, which boasts over 7 million views. They now have the opportunity to gain a wealth of experience in the digital media industry and expand their fan bases, thanks to Latimer.

But it isn’t just the young digital media talents who are benefitting, as they are lending added value to the campaigns they are working on.

And it doesn’t stop there. By hosting networking events and conferences, around 800 talented young people and media professionals are sharing their experiences and forging links.

Over the year, the Lab will reach 1,500 talented young people by hosting Master Classes, events intended to expand their knowledge of topics such as production, social media and branding.

At the end of the 12-month project, these young people are aiming to turn their talent into employment or start-up opportunities. But perhaps most importantly, the Lab is demonstrating the value of these ‘Hidden Talents’ to the industry itself. And we love that. Keep it up!

Meet our new team member, Mike!


I am – Mike Butcher, part time Communications and Fundraising Co-ordinator.

I have been – Studying, reading and volunteering in order to gather as much knowledge as I can about UK and international development. I am immensely thankful for the chance to spend my time trying to improve undeservedly tough lives with the Foundation.

Why this photo? This is me hauling vegetables up a two-kilometre track in the Indian sun. I love calm and quiet places, and I was lucky enough to work in a village that was a long way from a usable road, though it did have its disadvantages.

You might not know – That I am a huge fan and player of soul music. It’s not uncommon to find me in a dark room, belting out a solo on my sax.

For the rest of our intros, visit our who’s who page, where among other things you can find out which team member drove up oxford street in a pick up truck and dumped two tonnes of shoes outside a shoe retailer, and which team member once played a child zombie in a film (aged 24).

(Photos taken from our Flickr page)

Last month Fight for Peace were chosen as Forward’s Charity Partner 2014. Our partnership kicked off in style yesterday.

Last night saw competitive spirit running high as 20 pairs from across Forward came together for our first fundraiser of the year for Fight for Peace: The Table-Top Showdown.

First, a team from Fight for Peace came to meet with a group from Forward3D, to learn about what they do, get to know each other and have tour of the office. One Fight for Peace member was overheard saying they were officially an SEO convert - good work, Tim!

After 6pm, chairs were cleared away and the auditorium was transformed into a gladiators’ arena (sort of) for the night, decked out with the holy trinity of tables - ping pong, pool and football. The team from Fight for Peace also joined in the fun and ran the one minute boxing challenge and FFP quiz.

The race was close, but in the end only one team could be crowned the Table Top Champions. Well done to Leo Fisher and Mike Wickham who smashed their way to victory.

Individual Table Top Champions

Table Tennis: Leo and Mike

Pool: Andy and Jason

Table Football: Amir and Andrew

Fight for Peace challenge: Paddy and Sam

Sports Personality of the Evening: Lenny and Francesca

Thanks to everyone who came along and helped to raise £345 for Fight for Peace. Looking forward to the next challenge! 

Introducing Fight for Peace



On Monday Forward staff were introduced to Fight for Peace, their new Charity Partner of the year. Alex, Ebs and Silvino spoke in the auditorium about their experiences, and gave us a chance to ask questions about the trail blazing organisation.

It was great to get to know some of the figureheads of the charity ahead of our inaugural fundraiser on Thursday afternoon!

Yesterday Anna and Neil went to The Big House to chat to Maggie and the young people in The Open House Project, and to watch them rehearse a few scenes ready for the opening night of Babylon next Monday.  

Judging by the rehearsals, the show is going to be incredible.  The talent amongst the young people, most of whom have never acted before, is astounding (highlighted by this little impromptu jam we were treated to at the end of the afternoon!).

Can’t wait to see the show!

Meeting Langdon’s Franklin Scholars

We were delighted to visit Franklin Scholars on Wednesday, where we witnessed the effect of their wonderful work at Langdon School in East Ham. Franklin Scholars mobilises year 10 students by developing them as role models, whilst easing the transition for younger students who have recently moved up to secondary school.

We sat in on a couple of sessions designed to help the students speak in the group, test their memory and have a little fun in the process. 

Our Communications and Fundraising Coordinator, Mike shared his thoughts.

“The older students were fantastic, and the way they interacted with the younger students was pretty admirable. It was brilliant to see how the responsibility of being named a Franklin Scholar can have such a big impact on them as mentors.

“The younger students were attentive and clearly loved being there. Some of these guys are making huge strides with their confidence simply by being around people they trust and look up to.

“I think a lot of that happens because they have mutual respect for each other”.

We’ll be visiting Franklin Scholars again after the Easter break to see how they’re getting on, and we’ll be sure to let you know!

My mind was blown by Good for Nothing!

by Franklin Scholars founder, Jess

My mind was blown by Good for Nothing! Firstly by the fact that it even exists, and that people actually come, and dedicate 24 hours of their precious weekends to share their skills and ideas for social good. And secondly, by what can actually be achieved in just 24 hours!


We (Franklin Scholars) asked whether there might be a tech solution to enable to us receive and track information about our pupils’ engagement in and progress through the programme, in a very fuss-free and non-time-consuming manner for teachers - and lo and behold, 24 hours later a web-based app had been built and was ready for us to start testing.


Meanwhile on an adjacent table, some creative heads were throwing around concepts for bringing elements of our curriculum to life for students - talk turned from avatars to potato-heads and back to real life humans…

Loads of food for thought and real ideas to start prototyping and developing with our students. A huge, heart-felt thank you to everyone who came and got involved, to Michael and Rich from Good For Nothing for bringing it all together, and to the Forward Foundation for hosting us.

Good for Nothing Camden at the Forward Foundation
It’s day two. Outside smells like summer, inside smells like pastries, and there is a definite buzz in the air. This weekend’s 24hr Good for Nothing  challenge is in aid of two great education enterprises, Franklin Scholars and Studentfunder.
How did it all go? to follow…
(Pictured: concentration in comfort!)

Good for Nothing Camden at the Forward Foundation

It’s day two. Outside smells like summer, inside smells like pastries, and there is a definite buzz in the air. This weekend’s 24hr Good for Nothing  challenge is in aid of two great education enterprises, Franklin Scholars and Studentfunder.

How did it all go? to follow…

(Pictured: concentration in comfort!)

ICS Entreprenuer Event

Yesterday evening (Thursday 27th March), the Department for International Development rolled out their new development scheme, ‘ICS Entrepeneur’, and Forward Foundation were there to check it out.

Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening announced the plan at Innovation Warehouse London, following a meeting with returned International Citizens Service volunteers.

The ICS Entrepeneur programme will link young British business people with volunteers in developing countries, with the aim of exchanging expertise and knowledge that will help small businesses grow.


Pictured: Far right is our new team member, Mike who was invited along to the event to represent VSO after volunteering in India last year.

This time last year Helen was filming with Camden partners, Fitzrovia Youth In Action. We helped them to pilot a unique football and employability project.  

Watch the 2 minute video and meet Fitzrovia FC: A team going places, on and off the pitch.

Another sport-related project we’re supporting is Fight for Peace. We’re helping them to improve their model by placing more focus on helping their young people to progress into education, training or employment.

Fight for Peace Founder, Luke is coming to Forward!


Fight for Peace are our founder, Forward Internet Group’s Charity Partner this year. So for the next 12 months they will be fundraising for and providing expertise and support to the team in Woolwich, East London.

Exciting news is that founder, Luke will be visiting Forward’s main offices on Monday 7th April to meet everyone, talk more on how why it all began and answer any questions staff might have. We’re thrilled he’s stopping by, especially given the fact Luke is based in Brazil (where it all began) for the majority of the year, we are thrilled he’s stopping by! Luke’s done a TED talk on transforming communities, that’s definitely worth a watch.

Also next week is the first fundraiser - The Table Top showdown. Who’s the best table sports player at Foward? We will soon find out…

An update from the social enterprise, Green Biz that we’re supporting in Eldoret.


Three more youths receiving their uniforms. The uniform makes it easier for them to collect trash, gives them credibility and acceptance from members of the public and protects them from arbitrary arrests as they do their job. This translates to more collections, more profits and improved confidence in their line of work.

Worth checking out their blog for regular updates!

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