Case study

Bristol Together

An ambitious social enterprise that helps the long-term unemployed and ex-offenders get work experience and skills.

Bristol Together, put simply, creates jobs for ex-offenders and long-term unemployed people.

How? Through investment received from charitable trusts and philanthropic investors, Bristol Together buys empty properties and employs workers (long-term unemployed and often ex-offenders) to repair and refurbish them. Once complete, the property goes onto the market and any surplus money from the sale gets reinvested back into the organisation – allowing them to buy more properties and create more jobs.

Since setting up in October 2011, Bristol Together has employed 15 workers who are currently working on refurbishing two properties.

Paul Harrod, founder of Bristol Together, says: “Bristol Together is not about job preparation, it actually creates jobs. Workers get hands-on experience of a range of skills including carpentry, plumbing and electrical work. They also complete a Construction Skills Certification Scheme [CSCS] certificate, required on most large scale building sites.”

Potential employees are directed to Bristol Together by local job centres and other community organisations working with the long-term unemployed. Bristol Together has also made strong links with local construction companies, offering roles to workers who are keen to develop and move up in the construction industry. “Bristol Together provides workers with a good opportunity for them to use as a springboard for future success,” says Harrod.

Bristol Together is a CIC limited by shares. “We set up as a CIC as the structure gives us the accountability and financial flexibility we were looking for. Raising equity is vital to our existence, something having a charitable status wouldn’t allow us to do,” says Harrod.

“The CIC structure is well received by the workers. Knowing that their work impacts on a community rather then one person benefiting from profits really motivates them. The CIC model certainly lends itself to social enterprises,” Harrod says.

“It’s still early days for us, but we are looking to create up to 200 jobs in the first five years and would like to expand to run the project in other cities,” says Harrod.

“The need for job creation is greater now than it has ever been. Bristol Together is a simple model that isn’t reliant on tax-payers’ money and will hopefully have a significant impact on ex-offending rates, the number of people coming off benefits, as well as an increase in those that pay tax in the local communities in which it operates,” Harrod adds.

Name Bristol Together
Location Bristol
Company structure CIC limited by shares
Founded October 2011
Community interest statement To provide job creation for exoffenders and the long-term unemployed, and to invest in social housing provision.

Find out more about Bristol Together

Published 12 November 2013