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Social entrepreneur wins top accolades at Student Social Mobility Awards

Social entrepreneur Levan Peart, a former pupil at Blessed Robert Johnson College, has been honoured at this year’s National Student Social Mobility Awards.

Levan Peart was honoured with the top Creative Industries Sector Award as well as being named one of the upReach 10
Levan Peart was honoured with the top Creative Industries Sector Award as well as being named one of the upReach 10

The 22-year-old, who now studies Dance: Urban Practice at the University of East London (UEL), was recognised at a prestigious ceremony at the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC. He was praised for defying the odds to achieve outstanding career success.  

He was honoured with the top Creative Industries Sector Award as well as being named one of the upReach 10, celebrated for his grit, resilience, and determination to succeed within the creative sector.  

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Levan is the founder of Blackout Dance Camp (BDC), a social enterprise and community interest company (CIC) that combats mental and physical health issues through a range of specialist dance education and wellbeing services. 

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Levan said, “Hearing my name called was an incredible feeling. It was a beautiful moment and a great ceremony. I was genuinely happy to just be in a space full of great like-minded peers, and to win was a huge bonus! 

“I am so grateful for the opportunity, the people who voted for me and my support networks.”  

The award comes only a month after the dance student walked away with the top prize in an incubator pitch competition organised by HSBC where he impressed judges with his entrepreneurial vision and ambition for BDC. 

Levan said, “BDC incorporates Caribbean dance styles with commercialised dance styles fusing them together that creates our signature dance style. 

“I’ve loved dance since I was a little boy. I joined a dance school, and I choreographed my leavers’ assembly in Year 6. I feel like dance has always been in my household and in my culture. 

“We had our own crew growing up – we took part in Britain’s Got Talent, and Sky One’s Got To Dance. The actual idea came to me three or four years ago. A group of parents approached me in my community in Telford – my hometown – and said, ‘We want you to take our daughters and form a group competitive team’.” 

Levan went on to set up the girls’ dance troupe Blackout, which won Telford’s Got Talent in 2019, and which helped him to formulate his plans for BDC. 

The Student Social Mobility Awards – organised by social mobility charity upReach – honour students who have managed to find success despite facing socio-economic challenges, such as limited professional networks, juggling multiple responsibilities alongside studying, reduced access to careers support and living in areas with low job prospects.  

In his journey towards higher education (HE), Levan has overcome many barriers from growing up in a community where he felt isolated to finding himself short of the right qualifications to access HE. 

Levan said, “I knew I wanted to study dance at UEL, but I didn’t have the right credentials to get onto the course. I checked the entry requirements, and it said the New Beginnings course was an option.” 

New Beginnings is a pre-entry programme offered at the University to help students with non-traditional educational backgrounds. 

“I had to travel in from Telford – a round trip of five hours a day. I did this for 10 weeks to complete the course. I was determined though because it was the course I wanted to do.   

“It was great to be with such a diverse group of people, from different walks of life and of all ages. Coming from Telford, it was just beautiful to know that this opportunity was available to people like me who didn’t have the right qualifications or necessarily the right funds to get into uni.”   

This year’s awards saw more than 250 undergraduate nominations, from 35 different universities. The winners of the awards were selected by an independent judging panel of 10 leading representatives across the fields of education, business, technology, and the charity sector. 

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, who hosted this year’s awards, said, “The power of education to change a person’s life is close to my own heart. It was education that changed my life as I was the first in my family to go on to higher education and into a profession. So many doors opened in consequence. I want those opportunities to be made available to others like me. That is why these awards are so important.”  

Stephanie Lieber, acting upReach CEO, said. “upReach is proud to be behind the annual Student Social Mobility Awards, to shine a spotlight on both students who have excelled, and the organisations that have paved the way for them to do so.  

“Having overcome significant socioeconomic barriers and mitigating circumstances, these winners and nominees serve as inspiring role models for those from similar backgrounds, encouraging them to set their ambitions high and realise their full potential.” 

Levan added, “This win means a lot to me as a young artist and entrepreneur. I didn’t think someone like me – from my demographic and origin – would ever enter the House of Lords and take these awards with me! 

“It is a demonstration that we can achieve anything in life if we work for it and believe in ourselves.  “I hope that winning this award will inspire others to go after their dreams. We have the magic inside of us to pursue our greatest endeavours. I would encourage people to actively collaborate and build a strong network as part of the recipe for their success story. And most importantly, enjoy the journey. Small steps amount to great wins!”

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