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 empower skills, courage, self-belief and motivation, giving learners equitable 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.

Jack Havver

Jack works across our projects to support FIRST's community of learners, making sure they are comfortable and can fully participate in our courses workshops and events. Jack loves helping people and watching their courage and skills grow as a result of developing enterprise skills.

Oliver Leach

Olly works with all learners to share information about our courses, events and opportunities. He is brilliant at supporting learners with their options and loves to see the people he has worked with go onto achieve great things.

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Julianne Percival

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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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 resilient self-employment.



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

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Our values

From your first phone call to an end of project review, we believe in prioritising the following values for our stakeholders:

  • Empowering others to achieve their dreams
  • Expertise within enterprise skills
  • Learning through fun
  • Trusting relationships with stakeholders
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A picture of us

A passion for our work

Last year our work contributed 16 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.

Latest projects

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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Our Public Sector Partners

FIRST are proud to work with local authorities to provide learning and development opportunities for residents in the North East. 

We provide courses and opportunities under both the Adult Education Budget and Multiply funding and work with North of Tyne Combined Authority, Gateshead Council, South Tyneside Works and Sunderland City Council.

Scroll down to see some of our live projects and if you'd to speak to the team, send us a message by clicking the button below.

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