Matthew is currently undertaking his Phd in politics at the University of Manchester, UK where his research focuses on approaches to social enterprise policy by successive UK governments.He has previously worked as a political adviser in local government and served as an elected member of an English Borough Council for four years.

Matthew’s social venture idea: Life Long Song Ltd

Matthew’s social enterprise, Life Long Song Ltd, launched in June 2015 with fellow directors Janet Wright and Ali Maze. LLS is a local support service designed to alleviate isolation and boredom amongst older people and those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. It sets out to achieve this through the delivery of a series of fun and engaging musical workshop sessions held throughout the County of Lancashire. In its first year of trading LLS has linked with established social housing providers and older-people’s charities to deliver a series of contracted sessions and currently employs 3 part-time session deliverers.

Matthew’s host organisations:

Marlena Books

Marlena Books provides meaningful leisure and cognitive stimulation in the form of reading to those with Alzheimer's, dementia, or other cognitive disorders. Marlena Books features mature content at an appropriate reading level in order for individuals to continue their love of reading while maintaining their dignity.

St. Paul's GreenHouse

Great ideas can strike anytime, and living with like-minded people in an innovation community enhances those opportunities. St. Paul's GreenHouse is the first and only live-in campus-linked accelerator in Canada focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship. We believe the live-in model enhances the acceleration of startups and social change initiatives.

Meet Matthlew’s mentors:

Tania is an experienced sustainability professional having worked with a variety of private sector industries, public sector institutions, non-profits and social-purpose businesses. She is also an experienced social entrepreneur, having started and operated My Sustainable Canada, an enterprising social venture with a national mandate to help organizations use their purchasing decisions to drive social change. More recently she serves as the founding director of St. Paul's GreenHouse, a social impact incubator hosted within St. Paul's University College at the University of Waterloo for students to create and launch projects and startups that tackle pressing social and environmental problems. Tania ensures that the activities and partnerships that GreenHouse engages in directly align with the University of Waterloo's vision to be recognized as a uniquely entrepreneurial university that applies innovative approaches to technology, social innovation, and social entrepreneurship in ways that create recognizable impact both in economic growth and improving the human condition.

Named after founder Rachel Thompsons' grandmothers Marilyn and Helena, Marlena Books was created as a tribute to those who love to read but face barriers doing so as a result of their limited cognitive abilities. After watching Marilyn live with dementia for over 10 years, Thompson was surprised to find that her grandmother could still read. Unfortunately, Marilyn's dementia made reading regular books difficult, but turning to children's books left her feeling undignified and disappointed. Marilyn was not reading at all, even though it had once been one of her favourite activities—a common trend that Thompson found in many individuals with dementia. At the same time, Rachel's other grandmother Helena was battling breast cancer and her treatments made reading—something she had used to cope with her diagnosis and treatment—increasingly difficult. Helena was facing problems similar to Marilyn's, and Thompson knew she wanted both of her grandmothers to be able to reap the many positive social and cognitive benefits that reading provides. Drawing inspiration from the strong women in her life, Thompson created Marlena Books—research-based books for those with Alzheimer's, dementia, or other cognitive deficits—in order to allow individuals to continue their love of reading while maintaining their dignity. Books are able to be read independently or used with friends, family, or support partners. They feature mature, engaging content at appropriate reading levels in order to ensure that readers can navigate throughout the books with ease. The books also include beautiful, abstract artwork prepared by individuals living with dementia in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.