FROM humble beginnings in Leigh Park, Jo White has travelled the world and set up a hugely successful multi-national business.
Now the entrepreneur is hoping to give back to the estate she has never lost her affection for.
The 50-year-old has set up a charity called Big World Impact and is investing £100,000 into a long-term project to help the young people of the estate.
The grandmother-of-two, who is chief executive of Global Plantations Ltd which grows commodities in Asia, was in Park Parade yesterday.
Joining up with the police and Havant Borough Council, she and her team will provide free sport, art and culture activities for anyone from the age of nine to 19.
Young people involved in the activities will then be offered workshops aimed at improving leadership qualities, social and life skills, and employability.
Jo, who grew up in Boldre Close and now lives in East Meon, said: ‘I had been doing some international charity work that was attached to part of my business, but it was a struggle to find out which charity to go to, so I decided to create my own.
‘I wanted to do my first UK charitable activity where I was born, in Leigh Park. I wanted to give something back to this community where it all started.’
She added: ‘We want to do something with the youth.
‘People get sick and tired of kids being out on the streets, but we don’t actually facilitate anything for them.
‘When I was a kid growing up we used to go to a youth club, so I want to do a youth club with educational support for the kids in Leigh Park.’
The activities will be based in community facilities across Leigh Park, West Leigh and Warren Park.
Spearheading the work is Julian Wadsworth, who was awarded the MBE for his work on the young people’s Respect Programme – which worked with Portsmouth FC, the council and the Royal Navy.
Julian said: ‘We feel a sustainable positive activities programme that is free for nine to 19-year-olds to complement existing services is something that is desperately needed.
‘We are going to be here for a long time. I am excited because it’s such a big area with so many young people. We are just itching to get working with young people now.’
The charity hopes to launch in the next six to eight weeks.