#GoodNewsCymru | Social enterprise

Skills-building social enterprise weathers crisis to continue positive life improvements

The Community Impact Initiative helps improve health and well-being, enabling the people they work with to learn new skills, achieve qualifications and move towards employment through the renovation of empty properties throughout Wales.

By Ben Bostock · 7 August 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

Where did Cii originate?

The Community Impact Initiative C.I.C. (the Cii) is a social business that supports people from a wide range of diverse backgrounds to improve their health and well-being, learn new skills, achieve qualifications and move closer towards employment through the renovation of empty properties throughout Wales.

Can you give us a summary of what’s been achieved?

During the past few years, we’ve brought several empty spaces back into use, whilst supporting marginalised individuals to make positive life improvements through these activities.

Our approach to empty property number reduction coupled with individual well-being and skill development has resulted in national recognition, having won the 2019 Social Business Wales ‘One to Watch’ Award and a 2020 Inspire Project Award, whilst being finalists of the 2019 Social Enterprise UK awards and being named on the 2020 Natwest SE25 Newcomers list (top 25 new social enterprises in the UK).

How have you overcome funding issues and other obstacles during lockdown?

A few days into the COVID-19 lockdown we were informed by one of our major funders that they would be suspending their project funding immediately whilst they reviewed their own strategic and financial objectives. Overnight we lost a large chunk of our planned income for the next few years, which caused some sleepless nights to say the least!

On top of this, the Cii’s business model involves returning empty properties to the housing market, with the income secured invested into the purchase of the next property. With the pandemic came a suspension of the UK housing market, resulting in substantial deferred organisational income.

Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown had a massive impact on our financial security and sustainability.

Fortunately, we have excellent relationships with a wide range of other funders who believe in our work and were able to support the short-term sustainability of the organisation whilst we planned for the new post-COVID-19 world.

What’s next? 

During lockdown we had to suspend our skill-development projects in line with Government guidance. Thankfully, these will be recommencing during September where we’ll once again be able to support people to improve their health and well-being, develop new skills and make positive life improvements.

Importance of collaboration

We strongly believe in the value and importance of collaboration, working in partnership with social businesses and our wider communities to deliver a range of personal and socio-economic benefits. The importance of collaboration during these challenging times couldn’t be understated, with the support received from our wider communities meaning we can continue to do what we do!

Are there any staff you would like to mention?

I want to truly thank our staff for their understanding, hard work and diligence during these difficult times to ensure the Cii continues to support our communities.

If you had one message…

Persevere, hold on to your values, and don’t give up.

The Cii 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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