About us

Who we are

FIRST provides inclusive, lifelong learning experiences in collaboration with government, education and community organisations. Our accredited courses, workshops and events develop skills, confidence, self-belief and motivation, giving learners equal opportunities to progress into decent work or business startup. Facilitating inclusive, economic growth, FIRST challenges the status quo by innovating and improving the quality of entry level teaching and learning within enterprise and entrepreneurship.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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 :)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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FIRST vision and mission

What we stand for


An inclusive economy that enables everyone to have equitable opportunities to progress into decent work, meaningful education or self-employment.



To provide inclusive, lifelong learning experiences within enterprise and entrepreneurship that develop skills, confidence, self-belief and motivation, whilst creating value to our society and economy.

A picture of us

A passion for our work

Last year our work contributed 6 million in social return on investment for the North East economy whilst improving the quality of life for 547 learners in some of the most under-resourced communities in the UK.

Our process

FIRST has helped thousands of people get the connections, skills and confidence they need to progress into jobs, self employment or further education.

Our work is developed using state of the art learning software and theory as well as skill frameworks such as EntreComp backed up by years of academic research and practitioner data. 

By basing our work on solid foundations this ensures we are providing meaningful activities that create legacy, opportunities and impact long after learners and partners have worked with us.  To find our more about EntreComp click here.

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