Alumnus creates home networking community: Together

Karl Cowell

Together is a Facebook group devoted to encouraging businesses to network online, and to help staff to maintain their wellbeing, as they try to adapt to homeworking during the Covid-19 crisis. The group was brainchild of Karl Cowell, who graduated from a Foundation Year (Education) at Christ Church in 2019.

Karl came to Christ Church as a mature student.  Prior to this, he had undertaken a variety of different roles including events management, marketing and recruitment, without any clear sense of what he really wanted to do.

By the time he was 25, Karl felt he needed to pursue a career with more consistency.  With a real enthusiasm for working with children, he decided to go into teaching.  In 2018 he started a Foundation Year at Christ Church to give him the necessary academic preparation to progress onto a BA (Hons) Primary Education course the following year.

At the same time, to help support himself, Karl set up a Digital Marketing agency for small businesses, JK Online, working in partnership with his closest friend.  The agency was more successful than either of them had ever envisaged, so much so that Karl had to make a straight choice about whether to continue training as a teacher, or to devote himself to the business.  He chose the latter.

Like many other companies, JK Online has felt the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on its business. But Karl’s response has been to see how his agency could bring something positive to the situation.  They set up Together to encourage small businesses to network online and to provide tips and advice on how to work from home successfully.  The group offers a live morning work-out each day, three webinars a week, a “chill out” mental health session on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a virtual pub quiz on Saturdays.   After just three weeks, membership of the group had grown to 1,000 and it is still increasing.

Karl enjoyed his Foundation Year, which as well as generic academic skills also included sessions on alternative teaching.  He sees a strong link with what he is doing now.  “On the webinars”, I’m basically teaching,” he says.  “What started as a place to share advice has become an amazing community. Together has been a great opportunity to spend the free time I have just now, but also to help people who are struggling and bring a smile to their faces.”