The RIO story
The Founding directors of RIO, Lindsey Hall and Matt Little, started working together in 2002, delivering the Government’s Creative Partnerships initiative in the South West of England: a flagship programme focussed on supporting schools to become more creative. It was a great programme that demonstrated the potential of creativity, but we wanted to do more.
Various pivotal encounters with extraordinary people, along with a NESTA Cultural Fellowship to the USA and Canada led us to social enterprise – a way to make change happen sustainably and, for us, a way through the public/private conundrum to a better form of public service delivery and innovation.
The ingredients had come together and in January 2007, we started the Real Ideas Organisation, as a Community Interest Company.
The name grew out of a conversation on a train with a group of young people: they said we were all about doing ‘real things’, particularly compared to the more abstract work they were doing at school; had lots of ideas ourselves and, at the same time, supported them to turn their own ideas into action; and were good at organising things! And so the ‘Real Ideas Organisation’ emerged and our naming problem solved.
But it wasn’t just the two of us. Former colleagues joined us, bringing to the table a whole range of relevant knowledge, connections and skills. As we quickly grew, others joined bringing additional expertise including working with young unemployed people, working in international contexts, in event management; in excellent finance, in commercial activity, in community development, HR, IT, marketing, communications and more.
Since 2007, RIO has grown rapidly – from the original staff team of 10, there are now around 40 of us and our areas of work have diversified and changed. We have restored historic buildings, created new enterprises, supported communities and worked with young people. We have even developed a qualification – the SEQ – which is now being delivered to hundreds of young people in the UK and beyond.