Winners of the Faiths Forum for London Hope and Faith Prize the My Voice Project is embarking on starting-up a social enterprise that will help young people gain employment, acquire skills to administer and run their own businesses as well as develop the discipline to manage these businesses. Profit of the social enterprise will be reinvested back into the community to strengthen social outcomes for young people. MVP has acquired an agreement with London Borough of Camden to open a small enterprising business selling hotdogs at Camden market. The business will target young people who are unemployed or ex-offenders who will undergo an intensive training programme preparing them to manage a stall - this will include them acquiring a food and hygiene certificate, health and safety training along with key skills to manage stock control and finance.
So what exactly is a social enterprise?
A social enterprise is a business that trades to tackle social problems, improve communities and people's life chances. Social enterprises share the ethos and mission-driven nature of traditional voluntary sector organisations, and they work to make a positive difference. Unlike voluntary organisations though, social enterprises generate most of their money through trading, making goods and providing services that earn money.
Is there a real need for this project?
Our work over the last 4 years has highlighted a tranche of young people who seem to have become disillusioned with and detached from society and the communities they live in. The 2011 Riots and Victims Panel report, for example, noted “a collective pessimism about the future. We were shocked by the number of young people we spoke to who had no hopes or dreams for their future”.
Without doubt, young people today face a number of challenges that contribute to this sense of detachment. Whilst many more young people are contributing positively, media reports do not reflect this, detached and apathetic is typical of how young people today are portrayed in the press.
Alongside this, young people are facing a chronic lack of opportunity with unemployment rates at 22% amongst 18 to 24 year olds as of December 2013, the highest level since comparable data began in 1992, and yet services which support families and young people are amongst the hardest hit by the public spending cuts with many being closed.
The My Voice Project was launched in 2009 to provide a service for young people by young people. Our activities are open to all however as the majority of our activities are based at the Al-Khoei Foundation, a significant number of our beneficiaries are from communities who have higher rates of unemployment as adults.
With the increase in tuition fees, and cuts to EMA there is a reinforced feeling among young people that they are paying disproportionally. Research shows that being unemployed for more than 12 months under the age of 23 has a hugely negative impact on a young person future.
Those who suffer long spells of unemployment in their youth suffer wage penalties of 12 - 15% even into their forties. These young people will also suffer disproportionately when it comes to their physical and mental health and are more likely to suffer premature death.
Beneficiaries will build their skills and confidence. Participants after generating the confidence and skills will be teamed up with The Prince’s Trust or a mentor introduced by MVP to help them access advice and guidance to further their career prospects.
Social enterprises create and keep wealth in our most deprived communities; and that can build trust, responsibility, provide role models, reward hard work and give young people a voice and a stake in what they do.
The profits generated from the enterprise would be re-invested to develop and train up young people through contributing to the cost of activities to give young people confidence to have a voice, develop entrepreneurial skills and career guidance.
What are the risks?
• Running costs are minimal for the projects as license and rental costs have been subsidised through partnership agreement. Thus making the project financially viable.
• Project participants will need to be trained and monitored to minimise risks related to health & safety and hygiene standards.
• On-going risk assessment need to take place to considero Risks of thefto Stock controlo Hygiene controlo Gas safety checkso Staffing issueso Money management
• £2500 purchase of cart and equipment for stall• £250 marketing costs & branding costs
The additional costs that will involve training staff, insurance, cleaning costs and safety checks (legal requirement).