Action Acton, a London based charity and social enterprise (team pictured above) which has helped over 3,000 disadvantaged people in West London get education, training, and employment through initiatives including a street market project has been named as the latest Big Society Award winner by Prime Minister David Cameron. The group’s aim is to promote economic and community regeneration through Education, Employment and Enterprise.
Six years ago, Action Acton set up a street market to bring community life back into Acton town centre and encourage business start-ups by local people. The market, which sells hand crafts, organic produce, baked goods, cooked foods, and clothes is run by Action Acton as a social enterprise demonstrating the entrepreneurial streak that charities and social enterprises need making them more successful in helping communities across West London.
As well as giving an economic boost to Acton, the Action Acton market has brought people from diverse backgrounds together around a project that everyone can identify with - shopping and trading. The market provides up to 30 self-employment opportunities a day and costs traders only £15 a day, an affordable entry into market trading for people of all ages and backgrounds. Action Acton provide and set up market stalls 3 days a week.
Since the Action Acton street market project began in 2006, it has:
- helped over 3,000 disadvantaged individuals in West London get education, training, and employment
- created 30 jobs throughout the organisation since it started
- recently launched a volunteer programme engaging young offenders in a peer motivation programme
Julie from Juma Jewellery started her business through Action Acton:
I have been with the Market from the start and have built up a successful business. I love the community atmosphere, dealing with the public and working with the other traders and Action Acton staff. I recommend it to anyone who wants to try out their business idea–as long as they’ve got the passion and determination to succeed.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
High Streets are the heart of a community, they give people a place to come together, provide essential services and create local jobs and investment. This government has been working hard to revitalise our high streets but Action Acton has already identified the needs of their local community and created a vibrant market that has not only become a vital community hub, it has also created employment and training opportunities.
This is only part of the work Action Acton does - they are a fantastic example of an organisation that really is part of the Big Society, running a number of projects to meet the needs of the whole community. This award recognises their commitment to constantly finding new ways to help even more people and I hope they continue to grow and be a driving force in West London.
Dr John Blackmore CEO of Action Acton said:
Action Acton focusses on providing opportunities for disadvantaged people through the 3 E’s - Education, Employment and Enterprise.
Acton Market is one of our social enterprise projects but we also deliver many public contracts for unemployed residents, NEET young people, refugees and adult and young offenders. We have seen many changes over the last seven years and life is certainly challenging at present. We are pleased that the Big Society Award recognises the dedicated efforts and commitment of our staff, Board members and many local volunteers over the years.
Action Acton has created 30 jobs in our own organisation and expanded from one to six premises over the past 7 years across West London.
The market gives jobseekers the opportunity to gain skills and experience for future employment opportunities and local residents can set up their own market stall business without needing to have previous trading or retail experience, harnessing the entrepreneurship and business spirit of residents.
Local charities including the National Autistic Society and Blue Cross also run stalls at the market to engage with people and raise awareness and Ealing Council, the PCT and Police use the market to promote their activities to the community, further strengthening community life. Some local traders have now moved on to open shops, and others have moved to bigger markets, some have gained employment and some trade at the market as their main source of business.
Notes to editors
More information on Action Acton can be found by visiting their website: Action Acton or telephone 0208 993 9605
Business and social enterprise start up centre: http://www.thedoughnutfactory.co.uk
Action Acton run projects in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow for the unemployed, low skilled, young offenders, NEETs, adult offenders, business start-up , refugees, older people, women, lone parents, individuals with disabilities and mental health difficulties - all encompassed within 3 core objectives - Education, Employment and Enterprise.
Action Acton is a social enterprise with Social Enterprise Mark accreditation leading the way in:
- Partnership work with local and central government, other voluntary sector groups and private sector companies to find local solutions, to promote local regeneration and to tackle unemployment and low skills.
- Action Acton leads consortiums of smaller voluntary groups to win contracts and also joins in consortiums led by colleges and private sector companies.
- An example of a voluntary sector consortium project led by Action Acton which one a European Award for ‘Excellence in Equalities delivery’ was the ‘Ealing One Stop Job Shop project’ - a partnership supported by Ealing Council and ESF funding where Action Acton led a consortium of 6 smaller voluntary organisations to win and deliver work with unemployed and economically inactive local residents .
- Individuals helped by Action Acton have also won many awards eg a young offender helped by Action Acton won a London European Social Fund award for ‘Young Achiever of the Year ‘ presented by Boris Johnson at City Hall
- Most recently Action Acton has been engaged through the West London C4C Big Lottery Funded project to provide social enterprise training and support for local community groups and charities.
- Action Acton has a thriving volunteer programme and engages young offenders in peer motivation and unemployed people in helping other unemployed people
- Action Acton help refugees and third country nationals integrate into UK society by helping deliver ESOL courses.
- Action Acton is part of the Business in the Community (BITC) arc project in West London which large companies and businesses support social enterprise opportunities.
- Action Acton also runs the Doughnut Factory business and social enterprise start up premises where desks and fully serviced offices can be rented from £55 a week on an ‘easy in easy out ‘one week’s notice licence.
On the Big Society Awards
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.
The award focuses upon three specific areas:
Outstanding Contribution to Community
- People, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves
- Projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions
- People, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community
Improving Lives and Society through Innovation, Collaboration and New Partnerships
- People and organisations taking new approaches to public services
- Successful collaboration and partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector - working together to benefit communities
Engaging in Social Action
- People, projects and organisations taking action in their community
- Working together for social change (e.g. through creating groups, campaigns, movements)
- Generosity of time, money, skills and other resources - in support of social action
Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:
There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.
These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.
Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a panel of ministers and independent external experts. This panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to. Twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced once a week throughout the year.
Sixty winners have been announced to date, including:
HERO - A project that provides young people with enterprise education, equipping them with business skills, financial capabilities and an entrepreneurial attitude so that they can become effective contributors to their communities. They work in schools through the curriculum and extra-circularly through special events and programmes.
Blacon Community Trust - a social enterprise in Chester offering a wide range of community-based activities and services, all focused on ‘Building a better Blacon’, is the latest winner of Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.
CREATE - a not-for-profit company in Yorkshire which delivers innovative training and employment opportunities for people who have been homeless, marginalised or vulnerable
For a full list of winners visit http://www.bigsocietyawards.org