Social enterprise founder awarded honorary degree
Sarah is the founder and Chief Executive of the social enterprise in Leeds which helps long-term unemployed people get back into work. Growing up in Beeston, Leeds, Sarah was immersed in a diverse culture from an early age and began her working life as a customer service manager for BT and then for Everest, before leaving to start a catering business with her parents, called Upper Crust.
Sarah commented: "I founded Create because I believed that I could run a successful business whilst also giving vulnerable people the chance to get and hand-up and not a hand out. It is a tremendous honour to be here today, to be recognised in this way, and to see that my dream resonates so loudly in this city.
Volunteering two evenings a week at a local homeless charity, St George's Crypt, Sarah felt the frustration of not being able to help the young people she met to break out of the cycle of dependence on charity. She set up Create Foundation in Leeds in 2007 with Gary Stott, who was then chief executive of St George's Crypt, and Norman Pickavance, a fellow volunteer.
In October 2008 two Create cafés opened in Leeds city centre - eventually becoming four cafés in Leeds and Bradford. Create opened its latest café in the Manchester Cathedral Visitor Centre in April this year. In August 2011 the team opened its first restaurant on King Street in Leeds, 'Create' - a social enterprise with people at the hub. Profits go back into supporting the business, the community and future jobs.
The Create model has been replicated in other cities, starting with Doncaster, Sunderland, Liverpool and Manchester. Trainees referred through agencies such as the Probation Service and charities now work in the catering arm of Create, the restaurant and the cafés. The Create Academy offers a 12-week personalised work programme in a safe, supportive environment. Since its launch Create has helped around 450 vulnerable people, training them in hospitality and customer service.
Other dignitaries receiving awards this week include Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle, Harry Potter and The Syndicate star Matthew Lewis, Red or Dead designer Wayne Hemmingway, Mumtaz Kahn Akbar, the founder and owner of the Mumtaz Food Group, and England rugby union head coach, Stuart Lancaster who will be awarded an honorary doctorate in Sport. Completing the list of honorary awards are Colin Harrop, Pam Warhurst and The Guardian's Northern Editor Martin Wainwright.
The graduation celebrations will take place at the University's Headingley Campus from Monday 23 to Friday 27 July, where over 5,000 students will graduate over five days, alongside the ten honorary degree recipients.
The full schedule of honorary degrees to be awarded by Leeds Metropolitan University is as follows:
Monday 23 July 11am - Stuart Lancaster, Hon D Sport
Monday 23 July 2pm - Sarah Dunwell, Hon Master of Business Administration
Tuesday 24 July 5pm - Matthew Lewis, Hon Master of Arts
Wednesday 25 July 11am - Edward Barber, Hon D Arts
Wednesday 25 July 11am - Wayne Hemmingway MBE, Hon D Arts
Wednesday 25 July 2pm - Colin Harrop, Hon D Business Administration
Wednesday 25 July 2pm - Pam Warhurst CBE, Hon Fellowship
Friday 27 July 11am - Martin Wainwright, Hon D Arts
Friday 27 July 5pm - Dr Mumtaz Kahn Akbar, Hon D Business Administration
Friday 27 July 5pm - Dean Hoyle, Hon D Business Administration