#GoodNewsCymru | Social enterprise

North Wales social enterprise makes switch to deliver innovative mentor services online

Empower – Be The Change have adapted to serve their North Wales community during the Covid-19 lockdown by switching to online delivery of their mentoring services, focused on maintaining well-being during the pandemic.

By Ben Bostock · 14 May 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

Where did the business and idea originate?

Empower – Be The Change is an award winning social enterprise delivering personal and professional development courses, with Institute of Leadership and Management accredited qualifications and mentoring. We empower people and teams to build positive mental resilience, fully realise their self-worth and achieve their potential!

Empower – Be The Change was set in May 2016 by founder Jo Clay following 2 and half years in India volunteering and working on various community projects. Through this work Jo identified a need to support people in their personal development in order that they could become empowered to take positive actions to transform their lives.

Since 2016 Empower – Be The Change has increased its workforce to 3 full time staff, delivered over 45 courses and empowered over 450 people.

How has your delivery model been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown situation?

All Empower – Be The Change courses are delivered in classroom settings in community buildings across North Wales. Participants from a range of backgrounds come together and are encouraged in a safe environment to discover their skills, strengths and how they can use these to take positive actions to transform their lives. The lockdown put an immediate halt to any course delivery in this way.

Within days of lockdown measures being put in place the Empower – Be The Change team created a new online mentoring service that could go some way to supporting people through this pandemic.

In partnership with Sported, Social Business Wales and AVOW they identified peoples’ anxiety and mental health were being adversely affected by the new lockdown measures. It quickly became apparent people were struggling to adapt to this ‘new world’ and struggled to know how to adapt.

On 20th April Empower – Be The Change received confirmation from the National Lottery Community Fund that the enterprise had successfully secured £30,000 to roll out this service to community group leaders.

This new service is an adaptation of the 1-1 programme that they had run pre-lockdown. It’s provided to all participants, and aims to help people navigate their way through this pandemic by identifying the skills, strengths and opportunities they have available.

Has Covid-19 resulted in any permanent changes for the better?

Covid -19 has prompted the enterprise to replicate its highly successful classroom-based courses to online delivery. This new service will continue to be on offer, post lockdown through Empower – Be The Change, which will enable the enterprise to offer this service across the UK and beyond.

"Now is a great opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what is important and for organisations to be creative in how they can use their existing skills and expertise to best support their communities."

Jo Clay, Empower - Be The Change

Jo Clay (right) alongside Social Business Wales Advisor, Jacqui Cross (left)

Can you give us a summary of what has been achieved?

The new service commenced on the 4th May and a week later it had almost 20 people signed up. The ambition is that over the next few months more than 120 people will benefit from three personal mentoring sessions. The programme will also use a psychometric test to monitor progress and will measure the social return on investment through questionnaires and data analysis.

Did you have to overcome any major obstacles / challenges?

The new service has been very easy to set up as it utilises the existing expertise of the team and technology that is readily available.

Are there any members of staff / community you would like to give special mention to?

I would like to give a huge thanks to my team members Rhiannon and Dawn. They have been extremely adaptable and creative during this unprecedented time and have worked hard to get this new service set up extremely quickly.

On behalf of the team and board we would also like to thank the National Lottery community fund for their on-going support and for investing in this new service.

If you had one message for the social business sector right now, what would it be?

There are so many organisations doing great work and this is having a positive and lasting impact on the communities they support.

Now is a great opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what is important and for organisations to be creative in how they can use their existing skills and expertise to best support their communities.

Empower – Be The Change has received business consultancy support and advice from Social Business Wales, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

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