2018 has been a year of great triumphs, particularly with regard to our special projects division. However, the closure of Park House in September proved to be a testing time for some of our former tenants, despite our endeavours to secure alternative, affordable office space. Our Business Enterprise Centre, Weatherill House, had an average 98% occupancy throughout the year, and several months where we were completely full. 2019 sees the usual shift in tenants (albeit far lower than previous years) and we have a small quantity of affordable offices available at the current time. Click here for details.
Once again, we were extremely active throughout the year, assisting the FSB, Croydon Chamber of Commerce, Shaking Hands, GGT and Smart Start Coaching by helping to organise and market their events. We also continued with our pop-up hubs at local banks and spoke to the general public at Pride Festival and the We Mean Business Expo.
We were also able to support Croydon Council with initiatives such as their monthly business advice clinics and the BME Celebration of Black History Week as well as attending Croydon’s redevelopment and networking platforms as in previous years, including the Good Employers Initiative, Develop Croydon, Croydon Occupiers Forum, and the Small Businesses Commission.
In total we attended over 100 events and hosted two monthly networking groups: Ladies who Latte and Croydon Enterprise Plus, both of whom will continue to operate their monthly groups throughout 2019.
Being a charity ourselves with an aim to help unemployed people explore self-employment, we worked increasingly this year with individuals and organisations looking to support local people who have been disadvantaged through homelessness, long-term unemployment and mental health issues. Or helping people with disabilities to explore and develop their entrepreneurial ideas.
Some of the initiatives and projects we have been involved in this year to help achieve this include:
The final year of the ‘SEEK’ social enterprise project has provided a comprehensive 6 month training and support programme of approximately 1,000 hours of face to face support to unemployed and economically inactive people to help them set up and start a social enterprise. Following two local roadshows which attracted 26 people to hear about the opportunity, we helped 12 people through an initial intensive workshop programme and selected 7 individuals to receive intensive support over six months.
This year we were approached by Evolve Housing, a charity that provides supported housing to homeless people, to help in the delivery of their new initiative – the Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship. This was supported and endorsed by The Apprentice finalist and local Croydon entrepreneur, Bianca Miller.
All About Me – Pop-up Boutique
The idea was formed around a year ago by Michelle Scott at Croydon Council – providing real-life work experience to people with disabilities and representing some of the talent that is available in Croydon. During the few weeks that the pop-up was trading, trainees aged from 20 to 60+, with a range of disabilities, learned about customer service, team work and how to use a till, and they also gained a Level 1 retail qualification, had fun and made friends!
Michelle attended our 3-Day Business Training Course to give her the boost she needed to start the boutique and we also provided free mentoring and circulated details of the pop-up via our news blogs, newsletter and social media channels.
This was the first year that a daylong celebration of social enterprise took place in Croydon and attracted over 50 visitors over the course of the day. These included members of the general public who were able to sample homemade cakes, see the operation of a dolls house and how it helps people with dementia and meet the Croydon Council Social Value team.
Croydon Council’s working group on “Disability Confident”
And we’ve been involved in referring disabled people to one of the members’ new self-employment programmes for people with disabilities through the Disability Confident Action Group.
It was great to be asked to be part of the business show at Ridge Radio in October. This local radio station based in Caterham is accessible via the internet and has a programme of music, business and local interest items throughout the week. The business slot, from 9am to 10am on Fridays is designed to inform the business community of services that are available to them within the area, and/or to give top tips within a diverse range of business sectors. Click here to hear our contribution to Ridge Radio.
Thank you once again, to everyone who has supported us, joined us at our events and made 2018 a great business year.
WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST FOR 2019!