A standout cohort of young leaders from Northumberland and North Tyneside recently began an impactful residential program, skillfully organized by the Bedlington-based charity, Leading Link.

This initiative not only equipped the participants with essential life and social skills but also ignited their entrepreneurial spirit, fostering the development of innovative ideas for a local escape room business.

Under the guidance of Leading Link, the group of 14–17-year-olds went to Broomley Grange, near Stocksfield, for an enriching educational experience. During their stay, they delved into a variety of activities, including team-building exercises, outdoor cooking at the Stomping Ground forest school, and hands-on experience of event planning.

“Our Futureproof program is designed to empower young people, offering them valuable insights into the business world and expanding their horizons. We work closely with Young Leaders from schools in Northumberland and North Tyneside, creating a space for them to bond, collaborate, and learn in a distinctive environment. Many of these young minds were uncertain about their future career paths after school or college. I’m using my network of business contacts to guide them, introducing them to the world of work and providing them with a host of options.”

Karen Goldfinch, from Leading Link, shared the charity’s vision

“During our previous residential program, our young participants expressed a keen interest in escape rooms. That’s when I reached out to Dan Simms at the Pirate Escape Rooms in Whitley Bay. We arranged for the Young Leaders to experience all four escape rooms there, and also to visit their new, at the time unopened, Northumberland Escape Rooms in Morpeth.  They got to see how things work behind the scenes and how to create their own escape rooms. Now, they are working closely with Dan to refine and develop their own escape room ideas. We are hopeful that their innovative ideas and concepts may find a place in a future escape room.”

Karen continued

Dan and Robert Simms, the entrepreneurs behind the Whitley Bay Pirate Escape Room business, embarked on this collaborative journey with Leading Link to give back to the communities that supported them when they first started their enterprise a decade ago. They have welcomed visits from the Young Leaders and conducted workshops, sharing their insights into the logistics of operating an escape room business and discussing the creative process behind their themes and ideas.

“The Young Leaders have demonstrated remarkable creativity, coming up with captivating storylines. While some of their ideas may present practical challenges in terms of game reset times, we are in awe of the valuable learning experiences they are gaining. We believe we have future escape room designers in our midst, and we hope this experience will shape their future careers,”


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