Directions Finningley is a community interest company housed within two refurbished RAF hangars at Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
It works to bring about social and economic benefits by providing skills and training in the aviation industry, as well as encouraging the growth of new aviation related businesses.
“We don’t deliver training ourselves,” explains Bev Moores, Company Secretary of Directions Finningley. “But we bring together public and private sector partners to give advice, identify skills shortages and deliver training. Our core members are Yorkshire Forward [the regional development agency for Yorkshire and the Humber] and two further education colleges.”
With initial funding and support from Yorkshire Forward, Directions Finningley has refurbished two disused hangars to provide an aviation training facility as well as a state-of-the-art aircraft maintenance facility and business units.
It generates revenue by renting out units in that space, and through a range of commercial partnerships with companies such as BAE Systems, Vulcan to the Sky Trust and Kinch Aviation Services, which carries out aircraft maintenance on the site.
“Our role is not to benefit ourselves,” Mrs Moores says, explaining why the organisation decided to become a CIC. “It’s to benefit others. But we must work commercially to sustain ourselves without public funds. We have major assets with our hangars, and being a CIC protects those assets for their intended purpose.”
This means that the public sector can see Directions Finningley as a safe pair of hands, because its assets are locked. “But on the other hand, we are a business like any other business,” says Mrs Moores, who goes on to describe its work.
“Following on from the first phase of the project, which saw high usage of the facility through training courses and educational visits, we are now home to BAE Systems fast jet apprenticeship programme as well as the iconic Vulcan XH558,” she says. “This, as well as the on site maintenance facility running from Hangar 2, allows us to offer a rich educational curriculum as part of our community engagement, covering many topics taught in school. The interesting thing about the aviation sector is that it covers virtually everything in the curriculum – geography, maths, science and much more.”
Trading for the last six years, Directions Finningley has established itself as something of a local success story for CICs. It now advises other CICs in the area about the benefits of the CIC structure.
“Too often, becoming a business is a dangerously late decision at the end of a funding regime,” says Mrs Moores. “And then it can be too late. We try to raise awareness of the need to generate income and be sustainable from the word go.”
||Robin Hood Doncaster, Sheffield Airport
||CIC limited by guarantee
|Community interest statement
||To bring about social and economic change through skills and training.