Introduction to Carole Donnelly & the Community Empowerment Academy
As the founding director of the Community Empowerment Academy and a social entrepreneur: I set up this business to be the change I wanted to see, to empower local people to make a difference in their local community and stop waiting around for others to do it for them.
As a social housing tenant I know what it feels like to be disempowered, to have others make choices for you and to feel out of control and not a real part of the community outside your front door.
Over 25 years ago I decided as a lone parent to go back into education and obtained a degree and have worked in the social housing sector for the last 20 years. Surviving on benefits was not an option for me then or now. I finally left my housing career last year to concentrate on my passion to bring change via a social enterprise business.
I’ve become more and more frustrated with the delivery of services and tenant expectations. People stopped being nice & respectful a long time ago. I started to look at people’s behaviour, why they reacted to certain situations and failed to act at other situations.
After watching programmes like Shameless & more recently Benefit Street I wanted to understand why tenants stayed in bed, why Cameron & Osborne or the Daily Mail constantly referred to the ‘closed curtains’ in social housing tenancies, why some tenants houses, flats or gardens were a real mess when they were at home all day. What prevented them from really engaging in the simplest tasks? Why did the tenants blame everyone else and never looked to help themselves? There had to be an answer and a solution?
Hence Simple Solutions & the Community Empowerment Academy was born. I was the change that I was looking for, if I could do it, why couldn’t other tenants be inspired to achieve more? My experience has shown me that social housing tenants are not a lost cause, a minority will always be problematic and more difficult to empower. The key is that change is available to all, the key is to know when to change and to want to change. So how does the Community Empowerment Academy go about inspiring tenants and local communities? Well we have a number of change courses that can help.
We need people to step up, we need leaders to be the Community Champions and the voice of change, showing what can be achieved. Imagine being a community champion and inspiring others to really change. Our Simple Solutions course enables us to dip into the ‘Story’ Investigate it, moving to make a decision either to accept or change ourselves, or the situation, understand the process of making a decision, leadership to manage our own feelings, thoughts & behaviours, empowering us to lead & mentor others through the SIMPLE solution.
So why should you support the Community Empowerment Academy?
Well a number of reasons springs to mind, we’re a social enterprise, we’re new & we’re in a city near you to start with. I’m Carole Donnelly the founding director of the CEA. I’m a student at the Lloyds Bank School for Social Entrepreneurs programme. I’m enthusiastic & like to a difference this dates way back throughout my 20 year social housing career.
Who are we?
Carole Donnelly has a degree in Social Science that includes Psychology & Sociology, post graduate diploma in Housing, Project Management & Chartered Institute of Management qualifications, coupled with a coaching certificate and currently undertaking a Train the Trainer qualification to run more effective training courses.
Tony Summers is an inspirational Coach / Counsellor and Master NLP Practitioner, who served as a fire fighter for 17 years in Coventry and the West Midlands. He has delivered motivational seminars all over the UK and Ireland. He is a qualified Counsellor / Life Coach who has worked in many diverse areas ranging from hospices to mental health. He works within the private sector on a one to one highly confidential basis and also the corporate sector covering team building, meditation, leadership and conflict avoidance.
Tony uses his vast life experience and psychological training to inspire and motivate people to make dramatic and lasting changes in their lives and overcome the personal blocks to success.
Tony can help you to overcome Procrastination, Stress, Bereavement, Stop Smoking, Self-Sabotage, Fear, Fear of Flying, Loss of Direction, Depression, Anxiety, and Sports Psychology.
Professor Richard Tomlins is Director of Cohesia, a leading training and consultancy organisation. Richard is a nationally recognised expert in social value, equalities, community cohesion, regeneration and social inclusion having worked to the Secretary of State in DCLG as well as driving business and social gains through commissioning and procurement. He is also a skilled meeting facilitator using humour and a breadth of experiences to generate consensus
Previously Professor of Race, Diversity and Housing at Leicester De Montfort University, he is now Visiting Professor of Race and Diversity at Coventry University.Richard is well known for innovative and ground breaking consultancy, training and research, for example, working directly with communities and consequently offering a wider and different perspective to his clients.He is currently working on an innovative Social Return on Investment (SROI) pilot around commissioning and regeneration and for Community Health Partnerships on driving value from the health estate, alongside wider work on social value.Cohesia’s clients have included Centro, the Criminal Cases Review Commission, health providers, housing providers, central and local government and regeneration agencies/partnerships.
So what does the CEA do?
Well we deliver training, coaching, mentoring, counselling & consultancy services in areas that people don’t normally have the funds to pay for them. We work with social housing associations, local authorities, voluntary agencies, government agencies & universities to name a few.
What we offer
Our unique training courses centred around ‘Simple Solutions’ ‘Change’ & the ‘Inner Critic’ looking behind the ‘story’. Looking at the issues that prevent us from moving forward, the stories that keep us small, that prevent us from getting out of bed in the morning, that lead to ill health and low self-esteem. Through our training programmes we aim to investigate and get the story moving into a new direction by empowering individuals to take control of their own lives and stop allowing others to influence their own story.
We also offer a number of other training and self-development courses linking into the ‘Train the Trainer’ course to develop local Community Champions.
Our consultancy services cover, developing social enterprises, funding/grant bid writing, interim housing management, housing research projects, social value, equality & diversity, lean system thinking and ad hoc projects.
Currently working on a ‘Walk & Talk’ project aimed at social isolation, obesity & improving mental health. Developing an interactive app similar to ‘meet up’ to help improve the 3 main issues facing people today. Our lead director is working on a project to involve a social housing company to develop community champions and tackle ‘worklessness in social housing estates. We also look at resilience and how learnt helplessness can affect people, especially in the welfare dependant sector.
At the Community Empowerment Academy we aim to make a real difference in a local community by promoting Community Champions. We have developed a number of great courses that really empower people and help them to be the change they want to be.
We need your support to get this off the ground. As a student at the school for social entrepreneurs, I know what it feels like to want to make a change, to make a differece, but lack the real funds to help me continue with this journey.
What will use the money for?
The money raised will go towards a pilot programme to show the impact working at an individual level can have not only to the individulas self-esteem but on the local community as a whole. We will also use the money raised for a marketing campaign, including pop up banner, flyers and a small video that we can take around the social housing associations. We want to get people talking about our product and stop the over reliance on state benefits, showing people there is an alternative to unemployment and social isolation.
The recent Channel 4 programme Benefit Street, highlighted a lot of what is wrong in today's society, with your help we can show the positive side of social hosuing and turn benefit streets up and down the counrty into social enterprise hubs/streets.
We need ‘to foster a culture of co-production. To give a sense of power back to tenants and staff. To break down the “them & us” attitude.’ So how can we achieve this in the current climate? Well it starts with individuals taking responsibility for their own stories and that applies equally for tenants and staff. If you feel you and your tenants could benefit from our training courses please contact us to discuss a be-spoke package for your organisation. Don’t leave it too late to start the change, the cost to the organisation is higher staff sickness, higher management costs to tackle anti-social behaviour, neighbour disputes, void turnover/costs, increased arrears & poor tenant involvement take up.
Please help the Community Empowerment Academy make a real difference?