A £100,000 investment from the West Midlands Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund has enabled South Birmingham based The Sweet Project to take on and refurbish better-suited and fit-for-purposes premises to facilitate its longer-term growth and to recruit two new business development and service delivery team members.
The Sweet (Social Work Experience, Education & Training) Project is a social enterprise working with children, families and vulnerable adults. It provides protection, safeguarding, empowerment, problem-solving skills and support for individuals and families. It was formed in 2010, by Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell, who, having both worked in the family support services sector previously, recognised the need for improved and accessible local support services for their community, including quality placement learning opportunities for student social workers.
The Sweet Project has two key aims:
The Three Estates is one of the most deprived parts of Birmingham. Many of its residents are living in low-income families, with almost 9,000 children (37%) in the area being classified as living in poverty*.
With high levels of social, economic and health inequalities in the area, it has become a hotspot for crime and violence with interventions and preventative work desperately needed for both children and adults living in challenging and difficult circumstances. The Sweet Project meets this need through its holistic, whole-family support services approach. The team provides a mix of accessible groups and support including drop-in advisory services, family sessions and parenting groups, groups for women who have experienced domestic abuse and separately, one for perpetrators.
With a reduction in many community services, including a lack of quality social care for those who need it most, The Sweet Project also offers supported placement learning opportunities for student social workers who can fill this gap. It works closely with around 40 universities across the UK and importantly, it provides placements for students who often experience barriers to accessing education and employment, including those with disabilities or additional learning needs, helping students to develop their skills, experience and confidence.
Under the supervision of a range of experienced and qualified staff at The Sweet Project, student social workers undertake a variety of statutory tasks in real-life situations within the Three Estates community - including family and adult assessments, child protection plans and adult safeguarding services for local councils.
Income is generated through student placement fees from its university partners, as well as through contracts to deliver specialist social care interventions within local authorities, local schools and other agencies, including the police and judicial services.
Jayne Cresswell and Jayne Hulbert, Directors of The Sweet Project, said: “The Sweet Project was delighted to receive blended investment from Resonance earlier this year. This investment will enable our organisation to develop further university partnerships across the country, increase our staff team and enable us to continue our service delivery across the whole of South Birmingham whilst moving to more affordable premises. The Investment will help strengthen our business model moving forward by bringing in further business development support. As a Community Interest Company, we have found that over the years, funding has become increasingly difficult so this investment will also enable us to put further plans and ideas into action. On behalf of our organisation, we would like to say a huge thank you to Resonance.”
Grace England, Senior Investment Manager at Resonance, said: “We are so pleased to be supporting The Sweet Project’s next phase of growth – the team has provided an invaluable service to communities across South Birmingham for many years, and has demonstrated exceptional resilience throughout that time. This has included a continued commitment to delivering high quality services and support throughout the pandemic, despite increased challenges and obstacles, which has been a real credit to the team and The Sweet Project offering. This investment will help bolster the organisation going forwards, ensuring it can continue to grow for many years to come, whilst widening its impact and reach.”
*Three Estates: A public health approach to tackling violence in South Birmingham https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/85173b0dea1c4c48982a507cf3ccca5f
About Social Investment Tax Relief
The Resonance SITR Fund has pioneered the use the of Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) which was introduced in 2015, and which simultaneously lowers the cost of loans for enterprises and enables the potential for competitive returns to investors.
The Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund provides a vital support scheme for social enterprises and charities that are working hard to improve vulnerable people’s lives in our communities across the region.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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