Social Firms selected for Olympic legacy job creation project

 Two multi award-winning Social Firms are celebrating being announced as the first social enterprises to receive support from Business in the Community’s (BITC) new campaign - arc.

arc, which launches today, will create a lasting social legacy for the Olympic host boroughs by stimulating the creation and growth of financially sustainable social enterprises – enabling them to provide employment opportunities for 1,000 local people.

arc will combine the expertise and resources of founder partners Deloitte and BP with Business in the Community’s 30 years experience campaigning on responsible business issues and challenging corporations to make a positive impact on their communities in partnership with Social Enterprise UK. It will support social enterprises that will both tackle some of the social economic issues facing the host boroughs and create much needed jobs.

arc aims to support around 200 social enterprises over a 4 year period, 30 of these in its first year. The first two social enterprises that will receive arc support were announced today Bikeworks and Blue Sky Development & Regeneration. All four shortlisted social enterprises were Social Firms demonstrating the appeal of the model.

Bikeworks is a Social Firm that offers a range of organisational and public cycle services while reducing landfill and creating employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

Blue Sky Development & Regeneration is a Social Firm that provides paid work for people coming out of prison, to enable them to move successfully into long-term employment, reducing re-offending by 75%. Over the 5 years since it was set up, Blue Sky has employed nearly 500 ex-offenders - that's greater than the entire inmate population of some of Britain's prisons.

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  1. Social Firms UK is the national support agency for one type of social enterprise committed to employing people at greatest disadvantage in the labour market. At least 25% of a Social Firm’s workforce is severely disadvantaged because, for example, they have a learning disability, mental health problem, a prison record or a history of homelessness or drug or alcohol misuse.
  2. Social Firms are market-led companies that generate at least 50% of their income through trade, reinvesting profits to create more jobs. Social Firms operate in a wide range of commercial sectors; see for details. Since 1999 the number of Social Firms has increased from 5 to over 180 and collectively they now employ over 2000 people, 51% of whom face major labour market disadvantage.
  3. Business in the Community stands for responsible business. We are a business-led charity with a growing membership of 850 companies, from large multinational household names to small local businesses and public sector organisations. We advise, support and challenge our members to create a sustainable future for society and to improve business performance. Our members work with us to define what responsibility looks like in the workplace, marketplace, community and the environment - and we share what we learn about driving performance through responsible business practice.
  4. arc is led by Business in the Community, in partnership with Social Enterprise UK and supported by London 2012 partners BP and Deloitte and a collaboration of social enterprise organisations. A number of London 2012 partners have also contributed to its development with charitable and in kind donations including BT, Coca-Cola, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, GE, Procter & Gamble and Visa. arc is a unique initiative to harness the excitement and profile of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to catalyse job creation and social and economic regeneration in some of the UK’s most deprived boroughs. arc will support social enterprises to create 1000 jobs in the host boroughs by 2015
  5. Bikeworks is a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Tower Hamlets, East London, providing a range of cycling- and bike-related services. Bikeworks has been operating since 2006. For further information, call Dave Miller or Jim Blakemore 0208 9807998
  6.  Blue Sky Development and Regeneration based in Denham, Uxbridge providing Site clearance, landscaping, grass cutting, hedge trimming and lawn maintenance services. For further information call Stephen Finn, 01895 839848.