Little Bag of Hope inspires the Dragons

Pupils' social enterprise takes top prize

Our Lady's High School, Cumbernauld

A team of pupils from Our Lady's High School in Cumbernauld has won our Dragon's Lair competition with their inspiring Little Bag of Hope project.

Erin O'Brien, Maria Roos and Lucy McNee were announced as the winners after impressing the Dragons with their social enterprise to tackle the issue of rough sleepers surviving the winter in Glasgow.

The business would provide rucksacks for homeless people, containing essentials items sponsored by well-known companies. There would be 'filling stations' throughout the city for people to get refills for the rucksacks. Members of the public could pay for the rucksacks online as a charitable donation or as a gift on behalf of a friend or relative. The enterprise would start in Glasgow but the pupils would like to expand it across the UK in time.

Dragon's Lair is an entrepreneurial event aimed at all S3 pupils in North Lanarkshire. It is now in its eighth year and is organised by the council, with support from Business Gateway Lanarkshire.

"Congratulations to Erin, Maria and Lucy on their inspirational business idea which impressed the Dragons with its simplicity and practical application to a world-wide issue," said Councillor Allan Graham, Convener of the Enterprise and Housing Committee.

"Many of this year's finalists focused on social enterprises, showing their interest in issues affecting our society and commitment to finding solutions. I would like to commend all our entrants for their initiative and entrepreneurial spirit."

A total of 72 pupils from 16 secondary schools entered the competition, developing business plans for their entrepreneurial ideas. These were shortlisted to a final six teams who were invited to the competition final to pitch their ideas and business plans to the panel of Dragons. The four Dragons then had the difficult task of selecting a winner.

This year's Dragons were: Scott Webb from UK Steel Enterprise; Denise Canning of 121 HR Solutions; Joanne Telfer of Ten Live Group; and Danny Murphy from Gordon Ferguson CA.

Scott Webb of UK Steel Enterprise which is a sponsor of Dragons Lair, said: "This is a superb initiative which introduces young people to the world of business and a potential career option when they finish school.

"I have been involved as a Dragon for a number of years and seeing the standard of entries increase year on year, I never fail to be impressed at the ingenuity and effort the young people put into their business plans. It's getting more and more difficult to select a winner but it is proof that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in North Lanarkshire."

Runners-up were the team of Leah Campbell, Logan Mitchell and Alex Scott from Coatbridge High School, who devised an app, Breathe, to help people deal with mental health issues. It would feature live chats with experts or people dealing with the same issues. It would also include a mood diary and telephone numbers of helplines. The app aims to create a safe community for young people with mental illnesses to prevent them from self-harming and help them deal with their problems.

The other finalists were two teams from Braidhurst High School in Motherwell, a second team from Our Lady's High in Cumbernauld, and a team from St Ambrose High.

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