Sunderland’s own Dragons’ den is roaring success

From left, Simone Common, service manager for Sunderland City Council; Peter Harrison, deputy director for Gentoo Living; Echo reporter Jane O'Neill and Paul Blackburn, from the SAFC Foundation.
From left, Simone Common, service manager for Sunderland City Council; Peter Harrison, deputy director for Gentoo Living; Echo reporter Jane O'Neill and Paul Blackburn, from the SAFC Foundation.
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YOUNG dragons took a step into the den in a bid to secure funding for a musical showdown.

The budding businessmen and women pitched their ideas for a battle of the bands to a panel of judges who held the key to £4,000 in cash.

The line-up of entrepreneurs who faced four local " dragons" were ( front ) Michael Smith, and ( left to right) Mark French, Adam Britan, Vicki Gowland, Danielle Anderson, Anthony Loughlin, and Robert Shevlin.

The line-up of entrepreneurs who faced four local " dragons" were ( front ) Michael Smith, and ( left to right) Mark French, Adam Britan, Vicki Gowland, Danielle Anderson, Anthony Loughlin, and Robert Shevlin.

Business chiefs, a charity worker and an Echo journalist heard passionate bids for cash from members of Youth at Risk, which works with disadvantaged young people.

Members of the charity’s Connect Yourself programme are planning the event, which will take place at the Bonded Warehouse, Sunderland, in February.

In a bid to secure funding, they showcased their plans to the city’s own dragons – Simone Common, service manager for Sunderland City Council, Peter Harrison, deputy director for Gentoo Living, Paul Blackburn from the SAFC Foundation and Echo reporter Jane O’Neill, at the East Community Centre in Hendon.

The Dragons were given £1,000 each to invest and heard requests for funding for the overall event, to set up a stall selling cakes and cookies and plans to create battle of the bands-branded merchandise.

Peter Harrison, deputy director of Gentoo Living said: “It was great to see the fantastic ideas, thought and hard work that the young people had put into their proposals.

“Gentoo is very supportive of the work of Youth at Risk and their partners and it was great to be involved in such an important project.”

All of the young entrepreneurs persuaded the Dragons to hand over their cash and also picked up some useful tips along the way on how to organise and promote their event.

Ellie Garraway, head of operations at Youth At Risk, said: “Exciting events like the Dragon’s Den are a way of combating some of the negative images of young people portrayed in the media and to demonstrate that young people do care about their communities and do want to get involved.

“We look forward to seeing how their projects progress and to supporting them in reaching their goals in life.

“The event itself is crucial in showcasing the aspirations of our young people to the local business community.

“We firmly believe that young people have a huge positive contribution to make to society and that we need to find improved ways of enabling them to make that contribution.”

Twitter: @janethejourno