Social Enterprise with Enactus and Trans4m

Trans4m is a local project running under Enactus Durham. In this blog, we will introduce the background and what we do in our project.

We started working with our community partner Space4 in Houghton Le Spring in November 2018.  When we first visited them we discovered that the financial hardships faced by those who use the service mostly arise from mental and physical disabilities. They come to the Space4 centre for heating in winter, to access the food bank when income is tight, or to take part in the free community activities. They offer a safe space with one to one support, discrete groups, enabling people to navigate life’s challenges for themselves.

The centre currently helps 50 people every day and has been growing by 25% yearly. However, they only have 3 employed staff members, limited resources, and rely on grants and donations for funding. Struggling to sustain their work, they reached out to us in November, asking for help so that they can remain an accessible space for vulnerable community members.

We first launched into the project by offering new employability skills to individuals with the aim of helping them gain independence, improving their mental wellbeing, and assisting Space4 to generate its own income. Despite our enthusiasm, we were met with hesitant responses, we realised we had overlooked the most fundamental principle in working with people: Trust.

To change that, the first step of our business plan has been building our relationship with our partner. We have been running weekly sessions at the centre, where we introduce new activities to the community. From our first Chinese New Year themed sessions, where we brought in cultural crafts, calligraphy and Tai-Chi. 87% said they really enjoyed their time and were happy to take part in future sessions.

Over the last month, we have been directly encouraging people to become active participants, which has enhanced their confidence, communication and social inclusion. Whilst Space4 provides them with the initial comfort and security during their visit, our sessions have been helping them to develop positive attitudes that can support their wellbeing when outside.

Through the relationships we have been forming with the residents of Houghton, we have also got to know what they enjoy taking part in, their strengths, and ambitions. With these in mind, we are constructing a financial expansion path for Space4. By placing the wellbeing of individuals at the forefront of our business model, we are ensuring that the centre can achieve long-term growth for themselves and the people who visit.

Coco Pei

Hi, my name is Coco Pei, a third year mathematician from Van Mildert. Elisa and I are the co-project leaders of Trans4m, Elisa Benham, is studying Natural Sciences and is in her second-year from St Mary’s College. We currently have 3 other members on our team. Weekly meetings are held to discuss ideas and progress of our project, and we constantly share new ideas with each other. Being the project leader really allows me to push myself and achieve something new outside my academic studies.

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