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New Wave of Croydon Unemployed To Start Social Enterprises

Croydon continues to provide opportunities for people with good ideas to help disadvantaged groups in Croydon and last week saw the completion of the first stage of the second year delivery of the SEEK programme, a three year initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund under the Building Better Opportunities initiative.

Designed and delivered by a range of partners from across the Coast To Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area including The Platform in Brighton, StartUp Croydon and the University of Chichester with support from UnLtd and Croydon Council, it aims to support 45 unemployed and economically inactive people to explore and start up their own social enterprise.  It has already seen seven people in Croydon be assisted by the support on offer which includes an intensive start-up academy, five monthly workshops, five Action Learning Sets, regular support from a coach and access to up to £500 to help with testing their idea, marketing materials or registering their legal structure.  It also brings together the successful candidates from the three different areas into a regular monthly group to learn from expert speakers but also from each other.

Among the social enterprises started in Croydon and Brighton are:

 Interconnected Skills and Values, which aims to bring together older people with skills and experiences to pass on to younger generations;

 DigiWorksUK, which helps unemployed digital IT professionals as well as young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) to secure apprenticeships, internships or employment;

 Includeon, a tech start up developing a virtual employment platform for remote workers with disabilities;

 The Project Dollhouse, based in Brighton, creates a platform for individuals suffering with dementia to awaken their memories through workshops and decorating individual dollhouses.

Deborah Wardle from The Project Doll House, said: “My father had dementia and I came across the idea for my business when playing with my daughter.

 “I know this would have helped my father. I am passionate about creating a business that offers social value, it is so important to show how to support people with dementia and that is what my business does.”

This year’s 13 participants who have just completed the Development Lab, an intensive six day introduction to social enterprise, have equally identified distinct target groups including helping survivors of domestic abuse and mental health challenges, young unemployed mothers and initiatives to help prevent gang and knife crime, something which is prevalent in Croydon today.  Other participants are looking at using their creative and artistic talents to help tackle issues of loneliness and recycling.

So the future of social enterprise and support to those looking to make change happen is looking strong.

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