What are we like?
At our recent board away day at amazing Social Enterprise and SE mark holder Hill Holt Wood we agreed that three statements that would underpin who we want to be at the coalition and what social enterprise movement actually represents:
After much discussion and debate we arrived at the following:
- Business at its best
- Pioneering Leadership
- Creating a fair and just world
These values were never more evident than my visit to PM training in Stoke on Trent on July 1st.
It’s a remarkable story that can teach others vast amounts: PM training started out as a family run business back in 1982. A thoroughly socially responsible business, driven by the families aspiration to leave a strong legacy for its community way beyond the normal corporate social responsibility. In 2008 the family sold the business to Aspire Housing, a Registered Social Landlord that was created from the familiar story of a housing stock transfer in 2000 in Newcastle under Lyme. 8,500 homes for 20,000 customers.
Aspire, true to its name, didn’t want to be simply a social landlord. It had greater aspirations; to represent business at its best and be an agent for social justice.
Chair of PM training, David Seviour, a long term campaigner and activist for social justice recruited a pioneering leader. Will Nixon as CEO and supported by David as chair, have developed a social enterprise in PM training (which are proudly SE Mark holders) that should inspire every housing association in the country into action.
On my visit I met 20 or so of the 1000 trainees and apprentices that they work with each year. Structured, valuing and responsive training has provided 1000’s of people, most of whom are young and arrive with limited literacy and numeracy with a clear route out of poverty and unemployment a into a trade. 324 companies now source staff from PM training because PM training, more so than others, can provide a skilled and highly motivated workforce.
Apprenticeships in traditional skills such as carpentry, metal working, painting and decorating garden maintenance and landscaping underpinned by a strong emphasis on basic skills, citizenship and team work ensure that an incredible 72% of trainees progress into work at the end of their training (compared with only 43% across the rest of the counties progress into work schemes)
Home works run by PM training has 37 mobile teams providing landscaping maintenance across North Staffordshire. Over 1000 disabled and elderly people have had their gardens improved, maintained and hundreds of young people have got skills and employment as a result.
At the Staffordshire County Show Homeworks won a silver medal for their garden design. The garden they created cost a total of £550. The gold medal winner’s garden cost over £10,000!
The work of the young people from their metal workshops has been bought commercially and incredible sculptures of flying swans, spitfires, giant teapots are now regenerating parts of North Stafford through public art.
Last year the profits from PM training; some £225,000 was proudly handed over to their sister regeneration charity the Realise Foundation which catalyses regeneration throughout the area.
I haven’t even mentioned their plans for the future or indeed the amazing work that happens elsewhere within the company but I hope you get the idea; that the value statements we at the coalition agreed on 2 months ago, values that some said were ambitious to realise, are very evident here at PM training and at other social enterprises up and down the country.
Through our mission to create a fair and just world, with pioneering leadership that is participative in its nature we surely are business at its very best.