soapbox islington

Dragons + Winning Tenders = bridging the digital divide for young people in London

When Dragon Hall Trust charity’s James Dellow mentioned to Business Network host Helen Bennett that he had a difficult tender to complete for Islington Council and ‘did she know anyone who could help?’, little did he know how well it would turn out.

The bid was for a £700,000 grant in the form of a 3-year contract that would enable the Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust to run a new kind of youth centre, enhancing the digital skills of young people including the ‘hard to reach’ in and around the area.

Operating on a budget of c.£500,000 this was a significant ask for the Trust but James and his team had put in many hours over 10 years developing the Trust’s activities in the Covent Garden area and felt ready to take on this challenge in Islington… he just needed Islington Council to feel sure they could deliver.

Helen mentioned James’ plight to Winning Tenders CEO Ian Smith and he offered his company’s services ‘pro bono’, as he likes to help out where he can. Given the challenging nature of the tender, that only added to the determination of Ian, together with Winning Tenders bid manager Claire Meredith, to help Dragon Hall to win the bid. James said ‘I have no problem writing but I needed help focusing on answering the questions concisely to score maximum points. Ian, Claire and I were exchanging emails at crazy times during the small hours but we ended up with what we felt was a really convincing bid.’

Needless to say, James’s bid submission, finely honed by Winning Tenders, landed the contract for The Dragon Hall Trust and Islington Council have released the money enabling the Soapbox centre to be built.

Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust kitchen

“James Dellow of The Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust was celebrating with his team of helpers last Thursday at the opening of the Islington Soapbox, a brand new youth centre on London’s Old Street that will enable Islington young people to discover new opportunities, create, make and showcase their talents – and to have fun, but most importantly to develop their digital skills especially in music and video production, internet radio, technology, 3D printing, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and more. Dragon Hall Trust won £700,000 of funding from Islington to set up the centre and run it for 3 years.
Ian Smith, Winning Tenders

james dellow youth and community manager dragon hall

“This place simply would not have happened without Winning Tenders: we had already had one bid turned down then Helen Bennet of the Business Network put me in touch with Ian Smith. Ian and Claire took our draft and honed it into a succinct and compelling bid that convinced Islington we were the ones to take the concept forward and turn it into reality. Quite simply, without Winning Tenders we would not be here at this launch party this evening’.
James Dellow, The Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust

Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust 3d

The Dragon Hall Tech Hub and Islington Soapbox

Dragon Hall Trust is a forward thinking charitable organisation supporting young people, residents, business and community groups in Covent Garden and Holborn. The Dragon Hall Tech Hub has been created to ensure children and young people get the chance to play, explore and develop with groundbreaking technologies. To address the inequalities that exist in access to these innovations and help to Bridge the Digital Divide.

We offer social, educational and recreational activities, giving everyone the opportunity to play and explore with 3D printers, Virtual Reality headsets, coding, augmented reality programming, app design, radio production, sport and dance classes and access training and business development – there’s something for everyone!

To support our work we offer a range of commercial services including room hire and business training facilities. We’re inclusive, innovative and passionate about what we do – committed to making a positive difference to people’s lives.

The Islington Soapbox represents a huge expansion in Dragon Hall’s capability of providing the range of services and support it is able to offer.

Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust soap box

Click around our website to find out more about Winning Tenders, Ian and his team.

Below is a summary of the objectives of The Dragon Hall Trust with a link for more… and lower down are a few lines about The Business Network run by Helen Bennett.



The objectives of the Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust

The Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust was established in 2005 to provide a community facility in the heart of Covent Garden & Holborn, to serve the needs of local residents, local communities and the wider public. Our area is perceived as a ‘wealthy area’ whilst in reality it is an area of deprivation with a great divergence between wealth and poverty. Consultation identified these aims for the organisation:

To develop Dragon Hall as a self sustaining community activity and information resource for Covent Garden, Holborn, St Giles and Bloomsbury offering a venue for the use and benefit of local residents, businesses, community groups and organisations

Offer a wide range of social, educational and recreational activities and events, developed and delivered in partnership with service users, to facilitate the needs and interests of diverse communities, with particular focus on those at risk from social exclusion and isolation (ie children, young people, older people, Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) and disability groups)

Partnership Work
Enable partnership working in the area to develop around the hob of the venue and establish a consultative mechanism that will enable resources to be pooled, avoid overlap and duplication of services, identify gaps in provision and develop responses to these

Find out more >>>



The Business Network

Over 23 Years of Providing Professional Networking Events for Senior Decision Makers

There is a very good reason why The Business Network is still so popular over 23 years on from its launch in the UK – it works! Attracting senior decision-makers to the monthly lunchtime events, the unique, professional and business focused format offers an effective environment for building close working links and establishing that invaluable ‘support network’ of business contacts.

But we shouldn’t be telling you how great we are – come to one of our events and hear it from our members; they will give you a clearer picture as to how they have benefited from being involved.

Find out more >>>

PS Winning Tenders have been members of The Business Network Exeter for 5 years, The Business Network Bristol for 3 years and have now joined The Business Network London with a potential foray to Manchester coming up!

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