ENTERPRISE: Changing the Landscape for Social Enterprises

The Birmingham Post (England), July 16, 2008 | Go to article overview

ENTERPRISE: Changing the Landscape for Social Enterprises


Byline: By Tom Scotney Enterprise Editor

A new landscaping company says its business model can be an example for contractors looking to put something back into the community.

Jericho Landscape, a social enterprise, runs along commercial lines, but was set up to help provide training, work experience and employment opportunities for people who find it difficult to get into work.

And the housing association that helped set it up says if the experiment is a success, it will be rolling out more social enterprises.

Set up by the Jericho Foundation in partnership with the Trident Housing Association, the landscaping company is one of a growing number of social enterprises operating in the Birmingham area. The owners say its goal is social benefit.

The Jericho Foundation is looking for ways to provide real work experience opportunities for disadvantaged individuals in a supportive environment. Managers at the charity set up the landscape firm after talking to the housing association about ways the disabled, the homeless and other vulnerable people could get involved in the workforce.

Jericho Landscape manager Pete Smallwood said: "We want to offer a variety of opportunities for work experience - some of which need no training and some of which involve the development of skills. We split the staff into teams to carry out the different tasks."

He added: "I sometimes get the impression that the words 'charity' and 'social enterprise' are associated with low quality," he says. "We will be striving for excellence in the same way as any commercial operation, whilst working to meet our social and environmental objectives.

"Otherwise we would not be providing a true service to our customers or for our volunteers and trainees."

In addition to grounds maintenance, Jericho Landscape does hard and soft landscaping, tree surgery and land clearing services. …

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