A new social enterprise company has set up an employment academy and created 15 jobs already.
Housing association Cartrefi Conwy has joined forces with the Crest Co-operative recycling organisation to launch the new venture, Creating Enterprise which is the first of its kind in Wales.
The organisation is taking on a range of maintenance work at almost 4,000 of Cartrefi Conwy’s properties across the county of Conwy, from exterior painting to fixing dripping taps and broken garden gates.
It is also running an employment academy which has already seen three jobless tenants being given a 12-month contract to gain work experience.
Over the course of their year with Creating Enterprise they will receive full training, a qualification where appropriate and help with finding a permanent job, perhaps with Cartrefi Conwy itself.
The organisation has also just taken on two apprentices.
Creating Enterprise is run by Sharon Jones who has been appointed as its Partnership Director on the strength of her track record as Chief Executive of Llandudno Junction based Crest Co-operative.
Crest was set up in 1998 with lottery cash to help disabled and jobless people increase their skills and gain employment.
The not-for-profit company has since evolved to deliver a range of recycling services.
Two years ago Crest won the Prime Ministerial seal of approval when Sharon was invited to 10 Downing Street to receive a Big Society Award from David Cameron.
The new company, which started operating last April and is due for its official launch later in the autumn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy.
It is overseen by a three-member board, including two from the housing association and one from Crest, with Jim Illidge of Cartrefi Conwy’s board as its chair.
The company is administered from the housing association’s headquarters in Abergele and has its operational base at Crest in Llandudno Junction.
Sharon Jones said: “Everyone involved in this new community interest company is very excited about what it has to offer.
“We are delighted to be working so closely with Cartrefi Conwy and offering these opportunities to its tenants.
“While Cartrefi Conwy calls on qualified trade professionals for the larger jobs, our team operates a handyman service tackling things like fixing dripping taps and broken garden gates or putting up cupboards.
“We also have a voids clearance team which goes into Cartrefi Conwy homes when they become empty to clear the inside and gardens ready for new tenants to move in.
“Apart from this, Creating Enterprise is providing the personnel to allow Cartrefi Conwy to bring its gas servicing operation in-house.”
Sharon added: “What really makes the new company unique is the employment academy aspect to it, which is only available to Cartrefi Conwy tenants without jobs.
“Unemployed people are offered a 12-month contract during which time they will get work experience, training and qualifications in some cases.
“They are mentored throughout and in the ninth month of their contract we start working with them to find a permanent job, which might be with a local employer or Cartrefi Conwy itself.
“We currently have three people whose jobs are ring-fenced in this way for 12 months and when a vacancy occurs with Creating Enterprise another Cartrefi Conwy tenant is taken on to fill it.
“We are actively looking to grow the business and I would like to hear from anyone interested in using our services.
Cartrefi Conwy’s Chief Executive Andrew Bowden said: “After a year of preparation, Creating Enterprise started work last April with financial support from Community Housing Cymru who had drawn down £1.2 million of European Union social funding for housing associations to work more efficiently with social enterprise companies.
“We have taken advantage of the funding and found an innovative way of having that relationship.
“The partnership will enable us to offer a more responsive and cost effective service to our tenants.
“A very worthwhile additional bonus is that within the partnership we are also able to be a jobs provider on a rolling basis.”
Mr Bowden added: “We are currently in discussions with other local authorities and housing associations in North Wales about them having similar partnerships with Crest Co-operative.
“The benefits to them will be cost, quality and performance and, very importantly, that their tenants will be able to access the employment academy.
“We are really excited about how the new company is taking off.
“We are changing lives and building confidence in a sustainable way.”
For more information about the services provided by Creating Enterprise contact Sharon Jones by phoning 07720 715403, or emailing: Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org