A rapidly expanding social enterprise has defied the coronavirus crisis to help over 60 people to find new jobs – providing a life-changing boost for out-of-work housing association tenants.
Turnover at Creating Enterprise, based in Mochdre, near Colwyn Bay, has also increased to more than £10 million thanks to a burgeoning order book that’s also secured a top honour.
It was recently named as the fastest growing firm in Wales at the 2020 Wales Fast Growth 50 awards, expanding by 664% between 2017 and 2019.
The ground-breaking organisation, a subsidiary of housing association Cartrefi Conwy, was established as a community interest company.
As well as maintaining Cartrefi’s 4,000 properties, Creating Enterprise helps local people, including tenants, to find employment, training and volunteering opportunities.
Its commercial profits are reinvested into its highly successful Creating Futures academy.
The organisation has also launched another successful venture constructing modular homes.
Ambitious plans are underway to build 350 of the revolutionary zero carbon properties across North Wales, creating a further 50 jobs in the process.
The aim is to establish pop-up factories to manufacture the wooden frames wherever there is a development.
So far this year Creating Enterprise has created eight jobs and supported a further 55 local people into employment.
The experience has been life-changing for Thomas Strange, 23, from Ty’n y Groes, just outside Conwy.
He had struggled with depression and stress to the point where he found it difficult to get out of bed and leave the house.
The opportunity to work as a general assistant with the property maintenance team has completely turned his life around and improved his future prospects.
He said: “The academy has really helped me out. They rang me up every week, supporting me mentally and helped me find work.
“Creating Enterprise definitely helped me with my recovery and helped put me on the track that I want to be on, back in employment, making friends and things.
“I’m a lot happier in myself, so I’m getting there. I’m really chuffed. I really like it here, I also really like the people here, which is a big bonus.”
Another tenant who has found work and a new purpose thanks to Creating Enterprise, is father-of-four Jarred Lampkin, 40, from Abergele, who had previously been a stay-at-home dad for nearly 20 years.
After enrolling in the Creating Futures academy, a chance to do volunteer work was scuppered by Covid but he has now been given a 12-month paid contract with the property maintenance team.
Jarred said: “It’s going brilliantly, I love it. It’s really satisfying to be out doing something again. I’m absolutely made up.”
“I don’t think I’d be doing anything without the help of the academy here, because I’d applied for jobs left right and centre and I wasn’t getting a look in. The guys here helped me to create a CV and everything and that’s made all the difference.”
According to Creating Futures manager Sioned Williams, the positive impact they were having on the lives of people like Thomas and Jarred was immensely satisfying and spurred them on to do even more to help out-of-work people find jobs.
She said: “Through our employment academy at Creating Futures we ringfence jobs for Cartrefi Conwy tenants but the apprenticeships and other services such as job search support and volunteering opportunities are open for anybody to apply for “As a subsidiary of Cartrefi, we deliver all of the property maintenance work for the properties in Conwy, and beyond with external contracts as well.
“It creates a really virtuous circle because we’re creating jobs for tenants and all the money that’s made is recycled with the profit being reinvested in the academy.
“Creating Enterprise is really doing well as an organisation. It has been a spectacular journey in a really short amount of time.”
Cartrefi Conwy chief executive Andrew Bowden was “hugely proud” of what Creating Enterprise is achieving.
He said: “It’s growing and developing way beyond my original expectations.
“We had a track record of doing more for our community and helping our tenants into employment and education and now we’re able to do even more.
“It’s life-changing for many people because Creating Enterprise is often working with those furthest from the job market.
“Many of the individuals concerned may have been turned off traditionally by education, may have been turned off by actually going on to further education because of what they thought they were capable of or what they can do, and this actually turns that around and turns it on its head.
“Creating Enterprise are demonstrating that these are capable people who can do a lot more than they think, and we’re just giving them that opportunity which is a massive success story.
“The numbers are fantastic, but it’s the individual life stories that you hear that are transformational for them individually and their families. It’s utterly life-changing.”