Social Enterprise Celebrates its 1st Anniversary




Monday 18 November 2013 - The award-winning social enterprise, Realise Futures CIC is marking its first anniversary with an unprecedented year of growth.


The Community Interest Company has gone from strength to strength to become the largest
social enterprise in the Eastern region, with a turnover of £16million, employing 370 staff in four business divisions over six Eastern counties.


The company provides advice, training, skills development and paid employment for people who are disabled or disadvantaged, creating opportunities to enable them to succeed in learning, work and their lives.


 One third of its workforce are people who are disabled or disadvantaged and the profits generated by the company are reinvested to help more people improve their social and economic wellbeing.

Since divesting fully from Suffolk County Council in 2012, Realise Futures has notched up an impressive first year of business growth success having:


 *  created 105 jobs in the last year, of which 35 were in the Careers Advice Service;


*  increased business turnover from £13.4 million to £16.7 million;


*  become a top 3 provider of the National Careers Service in the country;


*  helped 100,000 people with careers advice;


*  helped 7,000 people in Suffolk access community learning;


*  expanded its award-winning 100% recycled outdoor furniture business, securing orders from leading leisure and wildlife attractions including Colchester Zoo and Jimmy's Farm, and  exported outside of the UK.


During the year, representatives from the company have travelled to Russia on a government-backed trade mission and met the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to discuss the role and success of social enterprise in the UK.


Its first year has also been marked with awards, including its selection as one of the Green 100 companies in the Eastern region, and the company's Eco Services division won the Sustainability Award for its recycled outdoor furniture products in the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) Chamber Awards.


The company's growth has seen it move to a new head office and open a brand new factory unit in Suffolk.


Realise Futures Chief Executive Sarah Sharlott said: "It's been a fantastic year for us. Our business continues to expand whilst at the same time helping people grow to fulfil their potential.  Our success is due, in the main, to the motivation, self-belief and hard work of our dedicated staff and those who have supported us in this first year.


"The growth in social enterprises, against a backdrop of tough economic times, is testament to their ethos of reinvesting in the communities they serve. Conservative estimates indicate that social enterprises in the UK are employing 800,000 people, and contributing at least £24 billion to the economy.  We are proud to be playing our part in this success story."


Sarah Sharlott will attend a working breakfast chaired by Hazel Blears MP, vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Enterprise on November 21 on Social Enterprise Day.


The event, at the House of Commons, includes a keynote speech by Jo Swinson MP, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs and Minister for Women and Equality.


Then, to mark its first anniversary of trading, Realise Futures is hosting its own a celebratory event on November 21 in one of its own social enterprise catering companies, The Town Hall Team Room located within the Town Hall in Ipswich, Suffolk.


Commenting on Realise Futures' year of success, John Dugmore, Chief Executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said: "When you see how much the company has achieved in its first year, you cannot fail to be impressed. It clearly has had an outstanding year and is set to
continue to go from strength to strength.

"Realise Futures joined Suffolk Chamber as soon as it divested and, over the year, has played an extremely active role in representing the Chamber both overseas and nationally,
including meeting the Prime Minister. The Realise Futures Division, Eco Services is a worthy winner of our Regional Sustainability Award.