#GoodNewsCymru | Social enterprise

Deeside community reskilling and well-being social enterprise gives new hope and confidence to those they support

Vicki Roskems of the Enbarr Foundation tells us how they empower their community and enable them through STEAM-focused practical heritage skills, digital inclusion and the confidence to become the champion of their own destiny to succeed in life and work.

By Ben Bostock · 24 July 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

Where did the Enbarr Foundation originate?

The Enbarr Foundation was born out of necessity for the skills growth in the area to further support the impact of those most in need within the local community, young people were not getting the right support or education, people with disabilities and women were not being paid correctly or given the opportunities they deserved, and those transitioning from the forces and their families needed a more inclusive service to support them fully. Through the commercial organisation we could offer the key support, but the foundation could offer more time to build strength and key soft skills and be able to do at a pace that was indictive to the individuals growth, to sit down, and find out what their aspirations are, and to help manage the output to achieve them, and to help reinstate confidence and hope.

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

Over the past 2 years working in collaboration with the commercial organisation we have helped over 2,000 people in the local area with reskilling, confidence and gaining both long term sustainable roles, and better well-being objectives and helped them achieve their goals. This has helped return a SROI of close to £1.3 million over the past 2 years and for every £1 invested in our services at this time we are returning £6.91 SROI.

What benefits will the John Summers Building development bring in enhancing community enablement?

Enbarr have strong roots in the local and wider communities that we serve; changing lives, inspiring individuals and their families to take responsibility for their path in life through person centred support and learning and development.

The John Summers Clock Tower will work alongside the community to reskill and build confidence and hope in the local region as we renovate the buildings and gardens on the site.

Our key aim is to empower the community and enable them with the key support and skills to become the champion of their own destiny and realise the safe and secure futures for everyone within the region to succeed in life and work.

We will utilise the vast skills and knowledge of the older generations to pass down as was done through the centuries to reignite niche heritage skills which are being lost, and infuse them with key technologies to overcome many of today’s climate and economic issues.

Our key objectives include:

  • Creating a STEAM environment that is open for all where families, individuals and young people can learn together in their own time and pace.
  • Providing a sustainable incubation hub for the community, local business and the third sector to meet and collaborate and work on joint projects.
  • Redesigning our gardens and grow our own vegetables and create a woodland adventure and help educate a better way of eating to aid the increasing poverty situation that is arising.

"People working together make a greater impact, which is what this project is all about: the community, and restoring hope, which is why one of the people nicknamed it in the early stages “Beacon of Hope.”

Vicki Roskems, Enbarr Foundation

Did you have to overcome any major obstacles / challenges, particularly during lockdown?

The Clocktower and garage was originally gifted to ourselves from Pochin in July 2018 and plans were moving ahead well, but they went into administration in August 2019 which left the project in influx as administrators would not recognise the peppercorn agreement.

We fought for 6 months to raise funds and try to bridge alliances to purchase the property but it had now grown to five Grade 2 listed buildings and 13.5 acres of gardens.

Two weeks before the sale both Mark Tami MP and Jack Sargeant AM went to press appealing for administrators to work with us, and the local paper covered our battle, but I could not give up, and the people of Deeside have had too many people give up on them and could not have another let them down.

The major obstacles we endured were taking over the site one week before shutdown and not being able to activate volunteers to keep them involved.

During the first week of the COVID-19 lockdown, we had to secure the site, start the renovation of the gardens and start the process of surveys.

We also started working with a few local social enterprises and shops to devise business plans to help support those most in need within the community with food and emergency supplies.

We then purchased a Osmo Pocket camera and with the support of online portal we started reaching out through social media to the local community to keep them involved with videos and talking animals to put the fun and positivity into important messages.

What’s next?

To work with local stakeholders and community to move to phase 1 of the development and slowly introduce volunteers into the project.

We’ll also have our heritage skills centre up and running to support not only the renovation but the wellbeing of the local community so that we can promote and educate the need for crafts people who need to be identified and distinguished from builders, builders ‘build’ things they do not repair and maintain, which is needed to repurpose and support key heritage and rural projects instead or replace to help with the ”GREEN Agenda”.

At a time of growing skills gap, this new Academy / Heritage Skills Centre will help bridge the gap and provide the support for those most challenged by barriers to employment. It will also act as a focus to inspire parents and children to consider careers in manufacturing, heritage, agriculture and high technology industries which they have previously discounted.

This proposal is fully aligned with the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan in ensuring access to opportunities for all and helping to underpin our collective ambition for economic growth and prosperous communities.

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

I would like to give a special thank you to all my team, and board for supporting both mine and the communities vision, and helping me over the past years bring it to life. I would like to Thank my knight in shining armour who brought the site earlier this year out of the auction when we thought all hope was lost, and for believing in the aspirations of this Vision for a better tomorrow.

Can you describe how Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being and the Wales Co-operative Centre as a whole has been helping you?

Linzi and Dewi from Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being have been awesome and assisted ourselves by loaning kit which we utilised on a STEAM stand last year at the World Rally Championship, where we gave individuals the chance to be in a rally car, also virtual tours of the heritage project we are working on, through their connected digital devices and devised support through COVID-19 it has helped support some of the families with home schooling, as well coming into the office to help do awareness training with our staff.

With the Digital Communities Wales accreditation it helped one of our older workers gain a managers role with a charity that she would not of been shortlisted for as she had not utilised the online training, and became a Canva supremo.

Jacqui from Social Business Wales at the Wales Co-operative Centre is always there as the voice of reason when my blue sky thinking takes over, and helped us gain support for an options appraisal late last year when making a decision on taking on the whole project.

She has supported our vision along with the community and sees how a central location where organisations can meet would be advantageous to allow them to grow, just as they have done down at Wrexham Town Sq. People working together make a greater impact, which is what this project is all about: the community, and restoring hope, which is why one of the people nicknamed it in the early stages “Beacon of HOPE”. Everyone around here has a connection to the steelworks over the years, and this building can bring everyone together again.

From your perspective, particularly many are in sustained isolation, can you describe the importance of digital inclusion?

The web is taking over the way we do things, from bank transactions, to shopping, to paying utility bills and council tax; it touches most people every single day. But with an aging population in the UK, we need to be prepared for the challenges we might face by failing to include different user groups in the progression of digital technologies. By utilising intergenerational shared learning, we can bring families together in learning, the young can teach key IT skills while the older generations can impart soft skills which can be lacking with people in a very screen-focussed age. 

This continual learning will keep our brains active and boost our well-being and educate ourselves on new skills through DCW’s Tablet Loan initiative, and applications like YouTube, Ted Talks with new online accreditations available.

Can you describe the importance of social businesses collaborating in a mutual support setting?

There is no such thing as competition it is organisations we have not collaborated with, you are unique and stay true to yourself, and reach out to other organisations who will lift you up and add impact to the services you can offer. TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More – and by helping bring organisations together and compile competitive grant and service offerings in public sector can be the way forwards to supporting your communities and local government productively.

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

To learn from the mistakes and best practice from the past. Take the positives from the COVID-19 situation with collaboration, resilience, and working through problems from a grassroots level. We rise by lifting others and we can create strength together. Let’s bring everyone up to the same level.

Togetherness, respect, collaboration, empowerment and communication are key. Believe in a better tomorrow!


The Enbarr Foundation 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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