Meet the Members – Gethin Jones

“Think it, Say it, Do it”

Gethin has been with us here at Innovation Space for about 9 months now and let me tell you, he is a man with many stories. I never thought when I decided to do this blog series, that I’d speak to someone with such a different past to their present self.


He was born here in Portsmouth but didn’t have a great start in life. Being put into care at a young age didn’t go well for Gethin and he received his first criminal conviction at the age of 11. Continuing down this rocky path, he was expelled from school at 13 and was then given a custodial sentence at 14. He spent 8 years in prison and was a dependent heroin user.


It was 10 years ago when Gethin decided that he was done with his life as it was and made the choice to turn his life around. With no qualifications, no work history and no meaningful relationships in his life, the time to turn it all around was now. And turn it around he did.


Whilst attending night school to gain some basic qualifications and volunteering for 2 hours a week teaching young people how to sail, Gethin started to turn his life around. He was soon volunteering 5 days a week and it became apparent to Gethin that he wanted a career that would allow him to use his skills to support and work with young people.


He then went to work at the Portsmouth Foyer; a youth hostel for people aged 16-25. After 6 months, he was working in a full time position and after 18 months, he was a team leader supervising staff. Already Gethin had come so far from where he had been, but he wanted more. He knew he had more potential and other people saw that in him too.


After 2 years at the Foyer, Gethin then moved on to a job at Portsmouth City Council. You’re probably thinking exactly what I did when he told me this – “How did someone with that past record behind them get a job at the council?”.


People could overlook his past and see all the volunteering he’d done and his willingness to better himself. He started out as a youth worker and then went on to manage this service in the council. Following various restructures, he also managed the alcohol intervention service and created a health inequalities service.


But it was last year that Gethin felt like he could be doing a lot more. He wanted to be able to fund the projects he wanted to undertake without having to struggle to find the money from within the council.


This was when ‘Gethin Jones Unlocking Potential’ was created.


‘Unlocking Potential’ allows Gethin to inspire people through his stories to want to better themselves.


“The inspirational speeches are about letting people know that they don’t have to accept where they are no matter where they are in life. If you get to a point in life where you feel like everyone else is moving forward but you’re standing still, there are things you can do.”


His talks give people take-aways and ideas of what they can do to improve their life either personally or professionally. He then provides training and additional coaching where necessary, which is personalised for each person.


In every interview that I have done, I have asked a really silly question. I already know the answer before I ask it, but it’s nice to hear the reasons for the answer.


When asked if he enjoys his job, Gethin replied with, “There’s that saying ‘If you do what you love, you love what you do’”. He really enjoys being around the people he meets through his job and he never feels like he’s working.


If work doesn’t feel like work, I think that’s when you know that you’re in the best place for you. And that’s exactly where Gethin is at.


Through his vibrant past, he has emerged as a man with stories and a passion for inspiring others.


His motto is ‘Think it, say it, do it’.


“If you have an idea but you just think about it, your brain will talk you out of it.”


The best thing to do as an entrepreneur is to take those thoughts and ideas and say them to people who support you. Get their feedback. It could be the best idea they’ve ever heard or it could still need a bit of planning. But either way, you can start the ‘do it’ stage. Start making that idea happen.


Gethin’s plans for the future of ‘Unlocking Potential’ are to first become a limited company. He would then like to be selling his company manual, if you will, to companies. 30% of the money the companies pay for this will go into creating three CICs (Community Interest Companies). There will be one for domestic abuse, one for young person’s early help and one for the rehabilitation of ex offenders.


You can get in contact with Gethin at or visit his website at


It was a pleasure to get to know Gethin and hear his stories first hand. It’s always interesting hearing how people have come from where they did and ended up where they are today.

Hugging in the workplace?


If a family member or close friend goes in for a hug, you probably don’t think twice about it. But what about when a work colleague starts approaching with arms out for a hug?


We’re all aware that you’re either a hugger or you’re not in this world and that’s all fine and dandy, until someone from the office comes back from a long holiday or leave and you’re left with the decision of how to greet them. Do you go up to them arms wide open ready for a bear hug, give them a polite handshake, go in for a smooth high five, or just sit at your desk and offer up a friendly smile?


I’m not particularly a hugger myself, at least not in the workplace. Hugs are reserved for family and close friends; I can’t even imagine hugging a colleague. So if someone from the office came up to me and was going in for a hug, I think I’d have to resign to the fact that it was happening and just get it over with. Sure, it would be awkward for myself but I feel like stopping them before it happened to say no to the hug would cause a bit of strange situation between the two of us. I’d be left feeling awkward that I’d denied them a harmless hug and they would be left feeling embarrassed.


For people like me who think hugging doesn’t really have a place in the office, we could soon be thrown into one of our worst nightmares; a hug-loving workspace.


With an increasing popularity in relaxed workplaces, hugging is beginning to be commonplace in the office. For most people, this isn’t anything they will overly think about but if you’re like me and think hugging really isn’t something to do at work, you’re going to struggle with this adapting etiquette.


I feel like workplaces are becoming more sociable and informal which, whilst it may not be a bad thing, is something to take note of. Should we not focus on professionalism in the workplace?


Hugging, I feel, is a very informal greeting or display of affection and therefore not really suited to a workplace. I think the meaning of a hug can be misconstrued very easily and so has no place in an office.


Although it is not an office space, a survey of the US fast food industry found that more than a quarter of the workers felt as though they were hugged inappropriately. I believe that this is something that could be said for any number of workplaces where hugging is now common.


Unless you are aware of the reason for the hug and both parties are happy to hug, it’s somewhat of a minefield. Everyone has different thoughts on where hugging is or isn’t appropriate and whether or not they like it, and so in a workplace I don’t think hugging is the best option for greeting people. If you’re both close and have an understanding of each other’s boundaries then yes, by all means go forth and bear hug. But hugging someone you’re not really familiar with? It’s a no from me.
Perhaps the best way to sum up my view and that of many others, would be with a quote from Adina Zaiontz, chief executive of Napkin Marketing in Toronto; “No matter what you think, your work friends are different than your real friends. Your real friends can’t call HR on you.”