One of the most fulfilling aspects of our job is to work with people who have the vision and dedication to either launch new ventures or are working to bring about change.

We have worked with many types of organisation, including: social enterprises, co-operatives, registered charities, companies limited by guarantee, Industrial and Provident Societies (now called Community Benefit Societies) and Local Authorities.

We know that, at the outset, questions relating to legal structures, funding, business planning, governance and many other issues can seem insurmountable. The list below gives links to and in-depth case studies of some of the organisations we have worked with and who are now established and successfully meeting all of these challenges – and more – on a regular basis. We hope you will be inspired by their stories.

Action Community Enterprises CIC – following support from The Guild in 2011 to enable them to choose the most appropriate legal structure, register as a Community Enterprise Company and draw up a business plan, ACE is an evolving organisation. Its first enterprise takes the form of a Community Garage based in Norwich (ACE Garage) which includes a workshop providing automotive services to the public and members of community groups. The workshop also offers real work placement opportunities to those who need it most whilst generating an income through trading as a garage completing car servicing and repairs. This, alongside special projects and training contributes towards workshop overheads.   At the time of writing ACE employs 9 full time staff, including an apprentice, and 2 part time staff.   They offer courses in construction for 16-18 year olds and in 2014 they will be managing a vocational learning hub for 11-16 year olds.

Bicycle Links – a Norwich based project assisted by The Guild to register as a Community Interest Company in August 2011 and provided registered office facilities during their first months of trading.   At the time of writing Bicycle Links has 4 part-time staff and 15 regular volunteers. They aim to:

  • give unemployed and disadvantaged people skills and work experience;
  • refurbishment of unwanted bikes to stop them going into the waste stream;
  • encourage cycling as a sustainable means of transport.

Bicycle Links also offers bike maintenance classes and weekly organised cycle rides and they are now thinking about their next stage of development.

Bramford Open Spaces Limited – Bramford Parish Council took ownership of the Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Bramford from Suffolk County Council and inherited the statutory responsibilities. However the Parish Council felt it was not the right vehicle to actually manage the site. In November 2011 The Guild began working with them to set up a charitable company to deliver and expand the potential of the LNR and other areas around the village. They currently have 50 members, A Board of Trustees and a Management Group. The organisation offers employment to people undertaking litter picking/trimming/’warden’ duties and has links with a Young Offenders Institution which provides the young people with experience of working in nature.   Bramford Open Spaces has recently begun to offer educational visits to schools and this is expected to continue, and a relationship has been developed with Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

“Thanks for all your help. I think we are gaining in confidence now and moving things forward quite quickly” – John Hooker, Treasurer

Bury Spectrum Gymnastics Club – had been operational for a number of years before a fire destroyed their premises in 2007. On moving to their new, purpose built, spacious premises the potential of the club was expanding and the Association wanted the protection of limited liability. In the summer of 2012 The Guild worked with them to develop their Articles and complete their incorporation process. The club now caters for a number of gymnastic disciplines which include both Girls and Boys artistic gymnastics, recreational gymnastics, pre-school and mother and toddler groups, gymnastics and movement for people with disabilities, freestyle gymnastics (suitable for free running and Parkour), trampolining and gym fusion.

Clinks Care Farm – a 143 acre country farm in Toft Monks, South Norfolk. As a care farm they combine the care of the land with the care of people offering the opportunity for disadvantaged people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and other disadvantaged backgrounds to work on the farm. In 2009 advice and support from The Guild included help with business planning, choosing the most appropriate legal structure and registering as a Company Limited by Guarantee. They use the work and farming environment to aid recovery by improving confidence, self esteem and motivation. People also have the opportunity to learn new skills whilst on the farm and now in addition to the two founders the farm employs 12 staff, mainly part-time and provides volunteering opportunities for many others.

The ‘Farming on Prescription’ aspect of their work has enabled 15 people to enter employment and 2 people to start their own businesses. A recent addition to the service on offer is the PAM (Participate, Activate, Motivate) project aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25 who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Capoeira Communities – an arts outreach organisation based in Norwich which received advice from The Guild on the next stage of business development after four years of successful trading, reviewing the operation, planning for new staff and seeking additional markets.

Graphic Design and Print – a Community Interest Company (CIC) based near Holt in Norfolk, set up to benefit people who are disadvantaged or socially excluded. The company believes that people with learning disabilities are citizens first and foremost, and public services – together with the private sector – need to respond appropriately. Individuals are offered real life chances, with potential paid employment and the experience of working for a company that is commercially focused. Other benefits include a chance of independence, inclusion into the wider community and choice in daily life. Graphic Design and Print also provides NVQs and offers 120 training places per year. The Guild registered the CIC, supported the first funding arrangements and has continued to work closely with them as supporters and collaborators.

Horfield Community Association – The Guild helped to bring this community association which was, in their own words – ‘back from the brink of collapse’ – and address a number of governance issues including getting the group reconstituted. The result was a vibrant association with 8 new trustees all working to create social and learning opportunities for adults and young people in the area. During 2013 they have concluded a Community Asset Transfer with Bristol City Council and are now actively fundraising to build up their community programme.

“I would recommend The Guild to anyone seeking help with a voluntary group or charity. Your knowledge and communication has been first class and we have all learned a massive amount from working with you. We won’t hesitate to contact you again when we need more advice” – Scott Jacobs-Lang, Neighbourhood and Communities Manager: Bristol Community Housing Foundation

Norfolk Can Inspire – ‘Norfolk Can Inspire’ began as a citizenship initiative for young people in Norfolk supported by the Lord Lieutenants Office and the High Sheriff and promoted by City College Norwich. The Guild worked with the Steering Group to establish the detailed purpose of the initiative, register the company structure and to clarify and submit the requirements for charitable registration.

“Your tenacity, patience, imaginative use of words and calmness throughout this difficult process has been admirable and I thank you fulsomely” – Paddy Seligman, Trustee Director

Peapod Preschool (formerly St Peters Pre-School)this voluntary organisation based in Norwich provides daycare for 2-5 year olds and currently  employs 2 full time members of staff and 15 part time. It has a management committee made up of parents who assist the Supervisor with the running of the Pre-school. Fees and Early Years funding cover daily costs, but they rely on parents to help with occasional fund-raising activities.

Produced in Norfolk (PIN)a producer’s co-operative of over 120 members, PIN is led by producers, for producers, with the aim of promoting the distinctiveness of the local area in which it operates. PIN’s overall aim is to revitalize the rural economy, through a community development model that is led by members of rural communities rather than imposed upon them. The Guild advised on incorporation and registration as a co-operative and has supported their growth over the last 8 years.

Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People – launched in July 2011 after receiving advice from The Guild on preparing their initial business plan, forming a Company Limited by Guarantee, registering with Companies House and as a registered charity with the Charity Commission. The Coalition is an independent non-profit campaigning organisation that unites disabled people and groups of disabled people to remove barriers in society which prevent people from leading their own lives. The organisation is led by 4 Trustees, all of whom are disabled people, and employs 1 part-time Administrator/Communications Officer. They have 50 members – organisations, individuals and associates – and the organisation is also supported by a team of volunteers.

Unthank Family Centre – following redundancy from a local authority in Norfolk, the staff were assisted by The Guild with the divestment of the Family Services Unit which resulted in a social enterprise start-up registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee in summer 2011. In Autumn 2012 the organisation needed to move to larger premises and contacted The Guild again for business planning and related issues.

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Social Enterprise Business Support

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