ACCEPTING a role in a fast-food chain or opting to hurtle along a fast track to fulfilment?
Luke Addison, from Woking, has friends who have gone down the quick-fix job path following their university studies. In contrast, he has clambered aboard the Entrepreneurial Express bound for world peace – stopping off at self-esteem, career development and ultimate satisfaction en route.
How refreshing to see a 21-year-old giving back to his community before he has even had a chance to take something out.
Already President of Winchester University Rotaract Club, the youth wing of the city’s Rotary Club, Luke, a graduating student from Winchester University, is one such person. Earlier this year he and a colleague appealed for donations to help stock up survival bags for Hampshire’s rough sleepers. His Rotaract Backpacks were kitted out with essential items including sleeping bags, waterproof clothing, hygiene items and first aid kits, plus maps, leaflets and information packs signposting the homeless to organisations which can help them.
He had said at the time: ‘By providing homeless people with the necessary resources in order to survive sleeping rough, we hope this will act as the first stage in allowing them to gradually rebuild their lives.
‘The sad truth is that homelessness can hit anyone and many people are just three steps away from it. If everyone just ignores the situation it won’t go away and they won’t be able to help themselves if everyone gives up on them. We really need support and ask people to give generously.’
If only everybody had a philosophy like his.
Luke is truly an inspiration to young people and a stellar example of how positivity and pro-activity can help propel you ahead of the crowd. In Naked Leader parlance, he just did it! And it is the city of Winchester which is benefiting from his endeavours, his drive and enthusiasm paving the way for staying on at the University to work full time.
Luke, who has earned a 2:1 in Drama and English, takes up the story: ‘Last month I had the absolute privilege of being invited to be a mentor at a PeaceJam conference in Monaco.
‘I had never heard of PeaceJam before and had no idea what I was to experience when I went along. As I expected, the conference was full of some of the most amazing, enthusiastic and dedicated people I have ever met.
‘I watched young people become engaged and inspired in national issues and got to meet and hear an incredible speech from Desmond Tutu [South African social rights activist, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984]. ‘It is for this reason I have been trying to push so hard to host a conference in Winchester. But I will get to that part in a moment!’
Luke explained that the conferences themselves are hosted as a way to educate and inspire young people in international fellowship, world peace and honest leadership. They involve local schools/colleges being invited along, and these are then split into several groups who are looked after by the mentors. They watch the guest speaker do their speech, then discuss it before later taking part in a series of different workshops hosted by local or even international guests.
He continues: ‘When I went along, one of them cancelled and they asked if I could put together an hour workshop using my skills in drama teaching, based on peace.
‘I did that and it went very well. We had a guy do a yoga workshop, there was one about travel and there were many more. This is where I believed the community would benefit as in Winchester, we could get all kinds of local talent hosting the small workshops.
‘After returning from the weekend, I was absolutely inspired and driven to see if I would be able to hold one in the city, so I got in touch with the founders, whom I had met.
‘They were enormously friendly and so keen on the idea and said “yes”! Next, I had to convince the University. So I emailed the vice-chancellor, who put me in touch with Mark Owen, the head of Peace and Reconciliation. They also said “yes!”
The story takes a remarkable turn as Luke explains: ‘After much discussion, the University and Peacejam agreed that instead of simply putting on a conference for a weekend, finishing, packing up and going home, they wanted a PeaceJam Department and hub at the University. This means several conferences, local events, fundraisers – everything.
‘And I have agreed to help establish this new centre as the coordinator. This centre will have such a positive influence on the Winchester community as a whole and will involve and engage local schools, colleges, the University itself, as well as outreaching to other areas such as local organizations, charities and support networks.
‘My task now is to organise the centre, fundraise and gather donations as well as various other tasks. I have already delivered a presentation to Winchester Rotary Club and have their full support. I’m meeting with the Canon of the Cathedral, the Chairman of Round Table, and several other organisations.’
‘I care so passionately about this project and my idea is to collaborate, and integrate so many local people and really bring the city of Winchester together and raise its profile.’
It has been a whirlwind few months and a period of time Luke is unlikely to forget. ‘It’s strange because the University have been showing me around the offices and explaining where everything is – and I keep thinking I haven’t even graduated yet!” he smiles. ‘It’s been amazing how it’s worked out. I really think this is an incredible opportunity.’
Indeed – incredible is the word. Because Luke’s foresight and ability to pounce on a chance to make a difference, while turning a passion into an obvious need to earn a living, marks him out as just that.