Handyman helps social enterprise grow

Redundancy in later years can prematurely end a person’s working life and strip them of their dignity and self worth.  But one Leeds social enterprise is proving that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Read how Clean Start gave a 64-year-old a second chance and inadvertently expanded its own services.

A social enterprise which is ten years old this year is celebrating with two new employees and giving one mature worker a second lease of life thanks to a grant from PATH Yorkshire.

Stephen Stainforth thought he would never work again when new owners took over the Leeds city centre hotel where he worked and made him redundant.  Although he had decades of experience and expertise, he knew that at 64 many employers would want a younger person.

Clean Start, which was launched by Turning Lives Around, a Leeds based charity, which prevents homelessness, has a track record of employing people on their merits and recognised the value Stephen would bring to the organisation.

Amanda Lister is the manager for Clean Start and when she was given funding to help two people start their journey back into work by Path Yorkshire she spotted Stephen’s potential immediately.

“We were set up to help our service users get back into employment by providing a deep cleansing service.  We also tackle hoarding and last year launched a decorating service for people who couldn’t afford commercial decorators to expand our services and meet customer demand,” she said.

“Increasingly landlords and customers, happy with our core services have been asking us to do trades jobs such as plastering, plumbing, joinery; Stephen was ideal.  Already he has saved our clients a small fortune and added to our range of services,” she said.

PATH Yorkshire in Leeds is delivering the programme called STEP (funded through Leeds City Council and the European Social Fund) supporting long term unemployed Leeds residents, aged 25 years and over gain employment by working closely with charities and third sector organisations to provide suitable paid placement opportunities.

The funding has also helped Cassie Burgess, who used to work on fibre installations for a broadband company.  The pair work four days a week including one day’s training on skills including Health and Safety.

“We hope that at the end of the six-month contract Stephen and Cassie will be able to remain with us,” added Amanda.

The two new appointments work alongside Ria Smith who joined Clean Start last year funded by Leeds Community Foundation Ideas that Change Lives initiative, taking the total number of Clean Start employees to 9

Janet Spencer is Chief Executive of TLA.  She said: “Clean Start has demonstrated it can do a first-class job reliably.  That has created a demand for more services which has meant more employees.  Proof that preventing homelessness and offering employment opportunities gives people the chance to truly turn their lives around.”

Caption: Stephen Stainforth and Cassie Burgess