The Community Impact Initiative C.I.C. (The Cii) @TheCiiUK is a forward-thinking social enterprise based in South Wales that strives to develop and deliver innovative solutions to persistent problems and areas of need in our local communities that lead to a range of personal, social and economic benefits.
Established by Trystan Jones, The Cii is a not-for-profit organisation, where income generated is for the sole purpose of its activities, with profits re-invested to enhance and continue its community initiatives, allowing it to strive towards its vision and mission:
- Vision: A future where our communities flourish and prosper.
- Mission: To improve our communities through innovative solutions, providing opportunities for marginalised individuals to make a meaningful contribution to society.
The Community Legacy Project is a recent Big Lottery Wales and Screwfix Foundation funded project that supports unemployed, marginalised and disadvantaged individuals to develop construction and employability skills through the purchase, renovation and sale of properties that are empty or in disrepair across Wales. In a nutshell, properties are purchased by the Community Impact Initiative, generally through auction, renovated through the project activities and sold back into the housing market.
We employ a project team who support our participants to learn and develop construction skills whilst carrying out the renovation of the property. Through these activities, the participants develop a wide range of skills, improve their levels of confidence, achieve qualifications, experience voluntary work placements and move closer towards accessing employment. In turn, these properties that were once empty or in disrepair are brought back into the housing market, reducing the effects of anti-social behaviour, crime and vandalism, and the detrimental impact this can have on our communities.
Each property renovation is a unique partnership between the Community Impact Initiative and a support organisation local to the property, such as a charity, housing association, school, EOTAS provision, HMP or probation services. Following purchase, we engage with potential organisations to identify who would be interested working with us.
These support organisations refer individuals to the project who they feel would benefit from the support provided, ranging from those with an interest in construction, to those lacking in self-confidence.
Project examples could include:
- Partnering with a local charity who support individuals that have an interest in accessing the construction industry, however have barriers to doing so, such as a lack of experience or not holding the relevant mandatory qualifications. In this case, the project will allow the participants to experience the construction industry in a supportive, empathetic environment, develop a range of skills across several trades, and achieve the CSCS card which is mandatory for site work. Therefore, in this case the project will provide the perfect stepping stone for a career in construction.
- Partnering with a local domestic abuse support organisation who supports women lacking in confidence and self-esteem due to their backgrounds. In this instance, we support participants who do not necessarily have ambitions to access employment in the construction industry but want to develop skills that they can use in their own homes. The outcomes of this project are focused on improving levels of self-esteem, confidence and motivation rather than employment.
- Partnering with a local school who want to provide their pupils with an insight into the construction industry and how school subjects and studies can relate to employment in this industry. In this case we’ll support pupils to experience the construction environment and get a taster of the various trades and skills prior to them having to decide on a future career path. Experiencing the work environment allows pupils to understand what qualifications are required during their statutory education journey, providing an insight that will support them in engaging with their studies.
As these examples illustrate, each property will be its own unique project within the Community Legacy Project sphere where the outcomes are tailored to the needs of the individuals being supported.
In August 2018 our first project property was bought in Merthyr Tydfil. During the purchase process we engaged with Merthyr Valley Homes, a housing association who support thousands of people in the local area.
In early September 2018 10 participants started the project. A mix of gender and ages, each came from a different background, with varying degrees of construction and employment experience. However, they all had a common goal of learning the skills and gaining the qualifications required to access employment in the construction industry. Through this particular renovation they will experience a range of construction areas including plastering, carpentry, painting & decorating, kitchen/bathroom fitting, tiling, flooring and gardening.
Following referral to the project each participant completed a Health & Safety induction and a training plan outlining their SMART targets. Our project staff monitor progress on a daily basis and carry out formals reviews fortnightly to ensure progress against targets.
At the time of writing all participants have engaged well with the project and have shown a fantastic ability to learn and improve upon the various trade skills being taught. Over the next few weeks we will be inviting local construction companies to open days for them to witness the participants demonstrating their skills with a view to them offering placements, apprenticeships and employment.
The impact of the Community Legacy Project is far-reaching and not limited to the outcomes achieved by the participants. It is our intention that the project continues to grow and develop and deliver outcomes on a personal, community and economic level:
- Personal – supporting individuals to develop a range of skills, achieve qualifications and support their progression into employment.
- Community – These personal outcomes will support our local communities through increasing income due to increased employment rates, allowing these communities to flourish.
- Economic – the economic impact is potentially far-reaching, in such ways as reducing anti-social behaviour, reducing pressure on specialist support organisations and developing a workforce that’s aligned to future property and construction developments.
A model that’s currently in its infancy, it is our intention that by utilising the Big Wales Lottery and Screwfix Foundation funding the model can become self-sustaining in the long-term.
We’re extremely proud to be delivering an innovative approach that is unlike any other in Wales and we look forward to supporting our communities to prosper through these activities.