Earlier this week, 21 fortunate members of the Social Impact Society travelled to St Joseph’s Catholic High School as part of the Thames Valley Learning Partnership to hear from Lord Bird, a distinguished social entrepreneur and the founder of The Big Issue magazine.
As a young man, his world was defined by drugs, violence and theft, and his unwillingness to reform eventually resulted in his imprisonment for embezzlement. Yet within the walls of his cell, as he explained, he developed a love of reading and writing. These were two skills his school was never able to teach him.
He said that throughout his childhood he was surrounded by the unforgiving, the narcissistic and the racists: “everybody…hated everybody except for themselves”. Determined not to fall victim to this ideology he joined an anti-racist group from the age of 21.
Lord Bird argued that the poverty and crime which defined his childhood are the biggest obstacles to social change. In his creation of The Big Issue magazine, he aimed to provide the homeless with a sense of duty and responsibility. He wanted to give them the chance to “think for themselves.”
Lord Bird recounted his personal experiences and emphasised the need to focus on rehabilitation to solve our society’s problems.
We would like to sincerely thank Lord Bird, the living testament of ‘bouncing back’, for sharing such stories and perspectives with us. After all, he was right in charging us to “all become revolutionaries.”