Where Passion Meets Potential

At FIRST we empower students, founders and professionals to reach their potential and beyond

You are First

We are an accredited learning and development agency specialising in progression skills and leadership experiences for cross sector clients including educational institutions, combined authorities, community organisations and private business.

Learn more

Sign up now Level 1 in understanding enterprise

Learn more

Our work with Young People

Working throughout the UK and beyond, we support young people to develop confidence and essential skills so they can find a job, start a business or initiate a civil project.

Learn more

Our work with Businesses & Employees

From meaningful CSR opportunities to support early stage founders to leadership and confidence training for junior staff. We get your business and staff team connected.

Learn more

Our work with Early stage founders

Self belief, commercial awareness and connections to customers, mentors and peers - we're working hard to improve startup business rates and essential skills for ambitious founders.

Learn more

Celebrating North East Talent

Alongside our partners, Startup Awards North East shines a spotlight, celebrates and connects ambitious, early stage founders to life changing opportunities and experiences.

Learn more

Meet the Team

Charlotte Windebank

As FIRST’s Managing Director, Charlotte is responsible for development, vision and quality. She supports the operations and communication managers and ensures all company outputs are aligned to objectives, values, and mission. Alongside her role as director, Charlotte is an advocate for social and structural change within entrepreneurship and is regularly invited to speak about research, innovations and positive actions towards increased inclusivity and empowerment for early stage founders, young people and junior staff.

Follow Charlotte

Sam Gallilee

Sam has 20 years experience working across the education and youth sector for school trusts, local councils and national charities. Sam’s passion and experience ensures all of FIRST’s projects create meaningful outcomes whilst supporting the team to ensure they have the resources they need to deliver their projects to the highest quality standards.

Follow Sam

Ellie Short

Ellie works on assessment, pastoral care and coordinates all of FIRST's educational contracts to ensure learners develop essential skills and gain valuable experiences when working with us. She is passionate about inclusive education and loves a challenge!

Follow Ellie

Masud Raja

Masud's role is to share our enterprise and entrepreneurial opportunities with stakeholders including learners, partners and clients. As an innovating 'intrepreneur' Masud works with the learning/development and communications team to empower communities to develop confidence, leadership and progression skills.

Carl Scarisbrick

Carl works across our projects to build our digital community of learners and leaders. He ensures that market data drives our communications and keeps our designs and messaging on brand. Carl is a people person and loves team banter :)

Follow Carl

Caroline Coates

Caroline brings to the team her expert eagles eye, attention to detail and problem solving skills when working with publicly funded projects. She is skilled in accounting with a degree in law and loves supporting the team to deliver courses, events and workshops whilst overseeing payments, outputs and reports.

Follow Caroline

Sam Clegg

Samuel Clegg is an advocate for entrepreneurship, business and innovation, and is highly passionate about supporting and helping others in their business journeys. He is a business owner, advisor, academic, and published researcher with over 10 years’ experience within the SME and Startup profession. Sam works as a tutor for our enterprise courses and brings energy, passion and first hand knowledge of what it's like to run a business.

Follow Sam

Nina Raja

As a creative entrepreneur and teacher, Nina's skill set is in engagement and accessibility of our enterprise qualifications. She brings charisma, vibrancy and uses her creative eye to innovate within courses and workshops to ensure they are fun and interactive for learners.

Lord Simon Jacobs

Simon is a caring, innovative and people focused entrepreneur who works with learners to refine their business thoughts and build confidence/self belief. He is a creative, unusual and inspiring tutor, instilling a can do attitude whilst challenging learners to think outside the box.

Follow Lord

Sammy Hardesty

As a communications expert, Sammy specialises in our networking, personal branding and market research workshops. As a well respected North Eastern entrepreneur, Sammy has built her professional network and loves nothing more than sharing how she did it with learners. She's fun, passionate and engaging so you can see why she fits in well with the team!

Follow Sammy

Justine Carrion-Weiss

Think design, innovation and passion. Justine has it in buckets and alongside her PHD and running a successful consultation company, she works on our courses and workshops to build skills and confidence for early stage founders.

Follow Justine

Alison Shaw

As an educational leader, Alison is an expert in social impact and skills. She is passionate about creating opportunities for young people's progression and making changes within education so it's accessible to all communities.

Follow Alison

Lucy Batley

As an established and successful business owner, Lucy is an expert in communications and brand strategy. She ensures that FIRST keeps on message and with her wealth of experience within the private sector, utilises her connections, insights and creativity to help shape FIRST's strategy.

Follow Lucy

Simon Hanson

Simon is a policy and lobbying expert with a passion and mission to make the regional economy inclusive. As a public sector expert he ensures FIRST is making connections and building a case of support within local authorities to help more residents access support from FIRST.

Follow Simon


FIRST are always on the look at for talented, training associates to join our team. For more information email hello@youarefirst.co.uk

Follow You?

Upcoming Events

  • Startup Awards North East - Live Finals!

    Learn more
  • Free Level 1 in Understanding Enterprise Course

    Learn more
  • Startup Awards North East Accelerator

    Learn more

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Please let us know your preferences.

Please read our Cookie policy.