Anis Idress' story

4 April 2023

Anis is the founder of ‘Think it Possible’, a social enterprise focused on empowering young people from underprivileged backgrounds through Orthodontic practices. He is also the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility & Community Relations for a large orthodontic firm, Angle House, and has quickly risen through the ranks, where he started as a dental nurse.

Anis faced many challenges in life, having come from a disadvantaged background, growing up in a deprived area of East London.  “We had no idea about social class and deprivation; we just thought that was a way of life.” However, he always felt different to the peer group he was surrounded by during his adolescence, not wanting to be involved in some of the questionable activities his friends were. Their complex lives on the wrong side of the law could have easily been his narrative, but he was motivated to achieve more from his life.

We had no idea about social class and deprivation; we just thought that was a way of life.

Anis has lasting memories of his inspirational grandfather and shares that “through my grandfather’s wisdom, he helped me understand the importance of mentors and role models to develop my foresight of the world through their hindsight. This culminated into fashioning my work ethic.” He installed within him an early seed of developing himself, despite the challenges he had faced. He adopted the concept of becoming a changemaker and having a positive impact on the world. “I grew up with the mindset that I must leave my mark on the world before my time.”

Anis was part of the first UpRising programme cohort in London in 2008, during his BSc in Biomedicine. He cites UpRising as being “the one thing that changed my perspective on the world around me and how to be a changemaker within it. It gave me access to people in power and influence, as mentors”.

[UpRising] changed my perspective on the world around me and how to be a changemaker within it.

During his time on the programme, he was able to access and engage with a wide range of leaders from different backgrounds and take part in workshop programme sessions designed to develop his skills, knowledge, confidence and networks in the leadership and political spheres. UpRising widened his perspective on obstacles and opportunities. He was given the support needed to develop his own ideas for changemaking and social action. “I left UpRising looking at life through a new lens, compounded with self-confidence and understanding of how leadership, politics, networks and influence operate on a grassroot, local, national, and global scale’. This new vision enabled Anis to develop his own social projects leading him to graduate as a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Anis had a eureka moment at a dental appointment, where he realised the dental practitioner had not acknowledged the opportunity before him.

 “The practitioner was solely focused on the dental health components of the appointment and did not see anything beyond that.” Anis saw it as a social opportunity that transcended the four walls of a dental practice. During his extensive research after the appointment, he identified a great opportunity that had not been discovered since the inception of dentistry and orthodontics,  which was akin to Rudolf Verchow’s discovery of Social Medicine.

The inception of the basic elements of the idea of what Anis now coins as ‘Social Orthodontics and Social Dentistry’ began during his time on UpRising. Fuelled by the discovery through this experience and the extensive self-development he had acquired through UpRising, Anis began developing his very own passion projects, in particular social action plans that he hoped would be ground-breaking in their ability to support other young people to be empowered to achieve their potentials in a way that he now felt he was.

He embarked on training as a dental nurse to understand the foundations of dentistry to help him identify how to make change within the sector. Within orthodontics, Anis successfully established a project whereby the young people who attend orthodontic appointments for braces can access mentoring and support. Anis positioned himself as a changemaker, connecting the youth with people from different sectors of work. He set up the first-ever career/mentoring conference between an orthodontic practice, with over 250 young people and 25 corporate firms, government institutions and charities in one place, covering 7 sectors of industry, in one day. The conference was unique and highly successful, and organically developed into bespoke leadership programmes with the support of emeritus Professor Werner Menski and Dr Sham Qayyum of SOAS University. The events he meticulously organised, helped develop the self-leadership networks, opportunities, and ways to overcome obstacles for underprivileged young people who wished to break into a career of their choice, as without these networks they would not have had access to these experiences given their social class background. His work was driven by his dedication towards the future of our communities, and his commitment to striving to ensure other young people would not experience the same barriers and hardship he himself went through. 

Anis used his platform to identify other areas where he could make change. Through his work as a male dental nurse in a predominantly female working environment, he recognised the adversities women faced in the workplace. Due to this new perspective, he developed a project for underprivileged young women, giving them the opportunity to meet and be mentored by successful, powerful, and influential women in their fields.

UpRising changed my perspective on where I stand in the world. It empowered me

Anis’s innovation, passion, dedication and work ethic has not gone unnoticed within the dental industry, and he was awarded the most prestigious award, ‘The Most Invaluable Team Member’, at the 2018 FMC Private Dentistry Awards in London. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, he adapted his conference model to fit remotely, promoting a more accessible platform to help hundreds of young people break into careers of their choice during the most difficult times. The conference saw the addition of experts from Warwick Business School, Warwick University and Warwick School of Engineering. 

Through his conferences, leadership programmes and projects Anis has helped support thousands of young people across London and continues to do so. His projects have been an integral part in signposting young people to useful services, resources, work-place mentoring, as well as aiding them in achieving places in some of UK’s most reputable universities/corporate institutions, and helping them to strive in challenging and competitive industries such as medicine, law and politics.

Currently, Anis is completing his Executive MBA at Warwick Business School/Warwick University having achieved the prestigious Changemaker Scholarship. He is also undergoing his orthodontic therapy training at Guy’s and St. Thomas’/Kings College London, while working full time and currently running a new leadership programme, ‘Discover medicine and dentistry’ in partnership with Angle House Foundation for young people in deprived communities in North London. Anis sees his experience on the UpRising programme, and the support he has received as a member of the UpRising alumni network as pivotal to his journey.

“I can honestly say it started from my grandfather, but it was catalysed by UpRising. UpRising changed my perspective on where I stand in the world. It empowered me. It inspired me, and gave me direction. It gave me the realisation to Think it Possible.”