Sandfields Aberavon

Origins

The business was started in response to the needs of 12,000 Residents on the Sandfields Estate concerned about air quality in the environment squeezed between BP Chemicals to the West and the Steel Works to the East; lack of work opportunities for young people in the wake of downsizing in the Steel industry, closure of the mining industry and reduction in manufacturing jobs in the area; and increased incidence of car crime and youth annoyance. Challenges faced during the first three years was to become a Company Limited by Guarantee (which was achieved in November 1998) and to become a registered charity (which was achieved in September 2001) to enable income generation from grant giving bodies as well as generating income from Management fees, facilities hire and rental income from organisations have a base in Sandfields or working with residents needs. It also had to overcome resistance and lack of trust from the Local Authority (who were partners in the early Sandfields 2000 forum) and to overcome low expectations for change from local people and stakeholders in regeneration.

Success Factor

The employment of an experienced Chief Executive Officer who faced the challenge of capacity building of the company through recruiting development staff, creating partnerships and participation of groups and active individuals. He also instigated policy creation involving staff in the business embedding good practice, setting rules and principles of action and operation, and establishing clear lines of authority and communication via support and supervision systems. Another important factor was the creation of one Community Regeneration Company with one Board of Director Trustees who understood the difference between governance and strategy with day to day operational management. Strategy and Governance decisions, resource and risk strategies are taken by the Board whilst all operational and staffing management and project operations are taken via the Business and Development Directorates. This allows for the evolution of a dynamic which results in a ‘can do’ approach to community regeneration and community enterprise. Finally, the recruitment of two senior managers to take forward development and operations with an investment in staff education and training and the establishment of clear management structures and levels of authority to spend within the company of such complex income and expenditure flows.

The Future

The main aim is to sustain 2007 levels of operation into the future by making tangible social enterprise solutions to raising income levels to sustain core staff, and to seek to expand the asset base of the organisation via the expansion of its STRIDES programme of Employment training, progression and mentoring for economically inactive people in the area. Finally, to procure the land and the capital to build a community enterprise centre on the Aberavon Seafront in partnership with the Local Authority and other stakeholders in the area. Through these developments, it hoped to create at least 40 jobs in the next 5 years and double the asset base and surplus generated through Social Enterprise activities.