Recovery Hub Ipswich
When Simon Aalders and Daniel Farnham discovered Foundation East in the summer of 2015, they were running out of funding options for Recovery Hub Ipswich (RHI), a social enterprise that had already gained significant support from the East of England Cooperative and Social Incubator East. Statutory funding and grant making organisations loved the idea, yet requested they reapply for funding once established. Banks turned them away because, as a social interest start up business, they had no trading history, insufficient security and insufficient personal investment. Now, thanks to Foundation East’s £100k loan, RHI is due to open its doors in Spring 2016, delivering a whole range of social benefits to the community and providing a model that has the potential to be rolled out across the region …
Here’s their story, so far …
Founded by two experienced addiction recovery specialists, Recovery Hub Ipswich (RHI) builds on the Recovery Partnership work of Bim Templeman from Suffolk County Council, which identified a clear need to create a centre for recovery in Ipswich where clients returning from care elsewhere could continue with their recovery. It goes further though, for, as well as providing accommodation and a recovery focussed treatment programme for addiction issues, RHI offers much-needed facilities to the wider community, including a coffee shop, a music venue, a function area that can be hired for meetings and parties and a community garden.
“Whilst everyone we approached for funding loved the idea, Foundation East was one of the only organisations prepared to provide money at the seed stage. As we’re collaborative and community-based by principle and cohesion-oriented by practice, Foundation East’s standing as a Mutual Society appealed to us, so, we couldn’t have been happier when we found out about them,” Daniel explains.
Simon describes the process of applying for a Foundation East’ loan:
“Working with them has been really useful. Our loans manager, Valerie Jarrett, gave us really good and appropriate challenges around our business plan, our thinking and our model to help us firm up our application. There was a lot of contact and, although they were asking for lots of things, Val always made it clear why. This really helped us shape our business plan. Indeed, Valerie and Foundation East’s on going support and guidance is still helping us shape our business,” Simon advises.
“If it wasn’t for Foundation East we’d never have got this place off the ground. Until they helped us our funding was a couple of very helpful, but small grants from some really great local councillors, and private funders committed to improving the community. Statutory and large grant making bodies said all the right things, but when it came down to it, they weren’t able to provide the seed money we needed, even though; they had a good understanding of the social and health impact our scheme makes. Indeed, they all loved the idea but wanted us to come back in a year after we’d established;. their funding is around the wrong way. In fact,: nobody, other than Foundation East, wanted to provide this significant seed funding to a Community Interest Company.
“Thankfully, Foundation East was prepared to support the venture without the need to provide security in the form of our houses, so long as we had a solid business case and put a business support package in place, such as the one they introduced us to with Social Incubator East,” he adds.
Indeed, due to open in Spring 2016, RHI is already employing four full time and two part time staff. Within six months it expects to be employing the equivalent of 13 fulltime staff. Its social impact goes far beyond creating employment though, as Simon explains:
“Our social impact starts with the actual building. In partnership with the Coop we have saved a building for the community. This building was a pub that was hardly used and went out of business twice before we took it over. It could well have just been bought by a supermarket chain, which, unlike the Coop, would have turned it into another supermarket that the community did not need.
“So, we have renovated a building for the community and we are able to provide a really flexible space for everyone within the community. Currently there is not a coffee shop around for another two miles. There are no community facilities, no meeting halls, nowhere for kids to have birthday parties or anything like that, no music venue and no community garden. We will be providing all these here, in one, unique space.
Foundation East’s Valerie Jarrett adds:
“We were shocked to learn an estimated 2350 people aged between 16 and 64 use Class A drugs, with 7400 people of the same age binge drinking in Suffolk. In Ipswich alone it’s estimated there are 700 Class A drug users and 2180 binge drinkers in this age range. These figures exclude others experiencing problems with gambling, gaming, food, shopping and sexual addiction. The cost of addiction to the state is mind blowing. Complex and deeply damaging personal, familial and community problems stem from such addiction too.
“Our Loans Assessment Panel immediately recognised RHI’s potential social impact. Indeed, this model has the potential to harness existing community support structures to make recovery-based healthcare affordable, whilst positively rebranding Ipswich, accelerating community cohesion (by providing a space for service providers and users to collaborate) and amplifying the achievements of other service providers (Public Health England, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council and the East of England Co-op are already signed-up partners).
“This is a unique model for a sustainable social franchise, with those going through the hub becoming great recovery assets in their own right. It’s different to other recovery approaches because it’s set up to be part of (not separate to) the community from the onset, thanks to the support of East of England Cooperative Society. We’re delighted to be involved,” she concludes.
As to the personal impact the loan has had on RHI’s founders, we’ll leave the last words to Simon:
“It’s been transformational. It’s given us the confidence to do everything we wanted to do. Without it, we’d have been dead and buried last autumn.
“Responsible Finance Providers, such as Foundation East, are important because no other providers are so able to recognise and enable genuine social innovation. Responsible Finance Providers don’t trade purely on economic value. They understand that social value is currency too. This breeds positive values within the communities they serve, which is refreshing and well worth recognition.”