Ross Duncan interviews Dave Linton – Founding Director Madlug
Dave Linton is a social entrepreneur based in Northern Ireland and set up Madlug a numbers of years ago and was voted last year by the readers of The Big Issue for the Social Enterprise UK Consumer Facing Award 2018. Through persistence he also applied and won a crowd funding competition to meet the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson ‘Brunch with Branson’ here he was given the a opportunity for a 60 second pitch to talk about Madlug and to win a prize of £1,000 in competition money. Like Sir Richard Branson, Dave Linton is also dyslexic.
Resulting from his work as a youth worker for 22 years and a foster carer for 10 years it is fair to say that he has have acquired an in-depth knowledge and understanding of social care and considers himself to be both as a social entrepreneur and business entrepreneur, especially when business and social entrepreneurs become as one, both as being able to identify a problem and being a problem fixer.
With 90,000 children in care in the UK and with one child moving every 15 minutes the story of Madlug came about after he heard about a heart breaking story about a young child moving within the care system with no luggage of their own to this, he heard of similar examples of foster carers stepping in and temporarily lending or borrowing luggage and worst scenario of black plastic bags being used as luggage containers. “I believe in society that we have a role as corporate parents, as every child should be valued and respected with dignity”. With a drive of wanting to help young people and a belief in fairness and justice, Madlug provides bags free of charge to local authorities across the UK for every child in care, so no child in care should have their belonging be carried in a bin bag.
Funding the provision of these good quality bags for free, involves the manufacture and selling of rucksacks to paying customers where all profits being made are ploughed back into the cost of producing a free bag to a child in care. When one bag is purchased, one bag is provided for free to a child in care. But as the increase and demand for Madlug rucksacks has steadily grown the manufacturing base has had to move out of Northern Ireland and is now ethically sourced in China due to its available increased capacity. His philosophy is that the only reason why I am in business is to help people and the reason why I have chosen the route to become a purist social enterprise is so that people can’t say that I’ve been lining my pockets in making a profit for myself. Each bag purchased has a storey to tell i.e. that no child is worth having their belongings be carried in a black plastic bag.
I might have set up Madlug but don’t own it; I am the only employee of Madlug, it is in actual fact a Community Interest Company.