Spotlight on Social Value – Warren Ward

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Spotlight on Social Value – Warren Ward is non-executive Director at Jobs, Friends, Houses a Community Interest Company based on the Fylde Coast which supports ex addicts onto a recovery journey. He’s been supporting the organisation to put a commercial and financial lens on their business plan, securing service continuity and supporting individuals to reintegrate back into society with a life free from addiction.

Jobs, Friends Houses is a Community Interest Company with the objective of supporting recovering addicts to be self-sufficient and to become a contributing member of society. We have five houses each occupied by between four and five individuals, who are now abstinent following a previous drug or alcohol addiction. Once individuals are placed into one of our houses, they can access a care network designed to help them reintegrate into society in a constructive way.

Our Community Workers are a crucial element of our care network. They have the ‘lived experience’ having been addicts themselves previously, so they can form support relationships with our service users at a deep level. Their role is to assist our service users with their integration journey back into society. This includes a whole range of support from registering with dental services to helping navigate the benefits system and enabling service users to receive the support that they are entitled to.

As an organisation we have a really good relationship with Blackpool College and our Community Workers will connect service users to the college to find a tertiary adult course that suits their skills and interests where appropriate. Gaining qualifications is an excellent step to strengthening that individuals CV and helping them secure permanent employment.

We’re also integrated with More Positive Together, a council-funded specialist job agency which specialises in supporting excluded people to find jobs. And we have links with Blackpool Coastal Housing for when individuals are ready to leave Jobs, Friends, Houses and start their next journey.

I became involved in Jobs, Friends, Houses 18 months ago, through my role as non-executive Director on the Fylde Coast Responsible Business Network. The FCRBN links people in business who want to do some good, to social causes who are looking for specialist advice or support. Stuart Noble, who is a non-executive Director for Jobs, Friends, Houses asked if I could bring some commerciality to the way that the organisation was run to help it to become a self-sustaining entity, and I was delighted to get involved.

It’s a great organisation doing some fantastic things to help vulnerable people. But it was the focus on connecting people back into employment, helping them to move forwards and making a fresh start that resonated with me; I realised that I could bring some influence to bare there.

Jobs, Friends, Houses is a community too. We’re all there to achieve the same goal, and we all support one another to do our utmost to ensure that lives are changed for the better.

It’s really been about bringing a financial and commercial lens to the organisation.

One of my main aims was trying to encourage the team to think long-term about continuity of service. The perception from around the board room was that ‘we’re a business that provides houses and we need more houses’, but actually what became evident to me is that it’s a business that provides services, and whilst the houses are important, first and foremost the USP of that business, and what makes such a difference to individual lives, is the ‘service wrapper’. It’s our Community Workers, the individuals with the lived experience who have been an addict and got themselves back on track, and the support services that sit around them, that keep people on the right path and make the difference. What became clear to me was that protecting the continuity of this service was really important. I encouraged the team to recruit more people, which not only had the benefit of providing employment for some of our service users, but also mitigated a service continuity risk that existed within the organisation.

Secondly I tried to encourage them to place a greater financial lens on the business plan. To look at how dependent the CIC was on grants and how the organisation could become self-funding. I encouraged the board to consider how we can enable other businesses to support our aims. As a result we created a ‘service leavers kit’ which provides some of the essentials that individuals will need as they embark on their new, independent journey, and which can be funded by sponsoring business partners. It was a great solution, because many businesses want to support social value causes but struggle to find the time to do this. By sponsoring a service leavers kit, or providing the elements within them, they are actively doing good in a way which works best for them.

There are so many ways in which local businesses can support Jobs, Friends, Houses. From supporting the service leavers packs, as mentioned previously, to reaching out if they feel they have ways in which they can support an individual to gain employment, for example funding a suit for interview, providing a laptop to enable a service user to access job opportunities online, donating driving lessons to facilitate job mobility. The opportunities are endless.

Provision of an individual’s time to offer guidance and support is crucial, but often so difficult for people to provide as we all lead such busy lives. But if you feel that you have the time to offer mentorship opportunities, one to one support with interview guidance or help with completing a job application, these are all actions that can make a huge difference to a service user turning their life around.

Warren Ward

Warren Ward

Commercial Director

If you’re interested to support our service users to reconnect back into society in a constructive way, please do reach out to me on:

T: 07949 026020

Author: Warren Ward
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