Social enterprise opens in Wembley

Report from Caritas Westminster

Social Enterprise Ideas Development, known as SEIDs, is a new initiative from Caritas Westminster, and believed to be the first of its kind opened by a Catholic charity in England and Wales.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols officially launched the SEIDs hub in Wembley on 29 January 2019, saying that the heart of business should always be about people, not wealth. The Cardinal began his address by describing how ‘thrilled’ he was to be at the launch of such an ambitious initiative, one that has the potential to change the way we think about work and employment. This building should be ‘part of the presence of the Catholic Church’. He echoed the words of Pope Francis, saying that things can be seen most clearly when we look at them from the periphery, somewhere far from the centre; it gives us ‘refreshing vision’.

Addressing an audience of supporters, donors, faith groups and community leaders, Cardinal Nichols explained how often the relationship between business and society can become exploitative, and focused on wealth. SEIDs offers a different perspective, one from the periphery mentioned by Pope Francis, that reveals some truths about work – it should be decent and dignified, focused on people and in the service of the common good.

The leader of Brent Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt, expressed his delight that SEIDs had been made a reality, and was ready to begin making a difference in the London Borough of Brent. Attending the launch alongside Cllr. Butt was Cllr. Ernest Ezeajughi, who as well as supporting the project as Brent’s deputy mayor, has supported it as a parishioner of the local Catholic church.

SEIDs consists of two branches and aims to provide opportunity and employment for those who cannot easily access these through conventional ways.

The first part is the SEIDs hub in Wembley which will offer facilities and support for individuals to develop their own social enterprise concepts, businesses which trade for a social purpose. The second part is the creation of social enterprises run by SEIDs to employ and train people who are at a disadvantage in the traditional job market. In 2017 SEIDs set up a property services social enterprise offering painting, decorating and general maintenance around the diocese. SEIDs Property Services prioritises training and on the job experience for people to access work, on a London living wage, in a supportive work environment, with support and encouragement to get the very best out of work opportunities, and progression pathways from apprentice through to manager. In time SEIDs hopes to establish additional businesses in a variety of trades.

The Wembley hub building was completely refurbished to meet the needs of the new initiative. It offers facilities to social entrepreneurs including peer-to-peer support; mentors; expert advice; workshops and training; free Wi-Fi; printer; kitchen; lockers and space hire. Use of the hub is offered on a flexible membership basis, with bursaries available.

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