Charity for jobless forms partnership with Derwentside Homes

North Durham housing provider, Derwentside Homes is celebrating another milestone by welcoming a new charity, which supports unemployed people to get back into work, to its business.

Enterprise Durham Partnership (EnterpriseDP), which is a collaboration between East Durham Partnership and Derwentside Homes, has become a subsidiary of Derwentside Homes. Since 1989, East Durham Partnership, has provided paid work experience, training and employment support in areas of the county affected by pit closures.

The partnership repairs and refurbishes second hand furniture and white goods at its factory in Seaview in Horden, which are sold at a low cost to local people, whilst at the same time, local unemployed people are given help to learn new skills, gain qualifications, and boost their employment prospects.

The furniture, white goods and training trading businesses will be transferred to the new company, while the existing East Durham Partnership charity will remain independent and continue with its charitable work, which includes training for unemployed and disadvantaged residents.

In recent years, East Durham Partnership has enjoyed strong support from Derwentside Homes. Four years ago, the partnership was awarded a contract with the social housing landlord to provide free or low cost furniture to disadvantaged tenants when they moved into properties.

Keith Tallintire, Director of Resources at Derwentside Homes, explained:

“For more than two decades, East Durham Partnership has been helping unemployed people in East Durham to get back into work. The scheme’s combination of paid work experience, on the job training, and a chance to gain qualifications and learn new skills has made a significant contribution to tackling the problems of joblessness locally.”

“Derwentside Homes has enjoyed a great relationship with the partnership in recent years. In the past we had a contract with a private company to supply free or low cost furniture and white goods to disadvantaged new tenants who were struggling to afford these items for their homes. By switching to East Durham Partnership four years ago, we have been able to reduce the costs of this while fulfilling our ambition to ensure our operations deliver community benefit.”

“By establishing a new company, EnterpriseDP we hope we can take our relationship with East Durham Partnership to another level and roll out this pioneering model to areas where Derwentside has a housing presence. It is also an opportunity to grow and diversify Derwentside Homes.”

“It will enable us to provide more intensive support to EnterpriseDP including the provision of some of our staff to support its development. Our ambition is to grow the partnership: to help more unemployed people to find long-term and stable employment and to widen the geographic areas it covers.”

“This means we will be able to offer employment and training opportunities to our tenants – which is especially critical for those who are currently facing the impact of welfare reforms. We also hope to be able to offer these services to other housing providers.”

Derwentside Homes already provides significant skills and training support to local unemployed residents through the SHED (Social Housing Enterprise Durham) project. The not for profit scheme helps people gain paid work experience and qualifications by carrying out repairs and improvements to Derwentside Homes’ properties. Set up in 2012, SHED is a partnership involving East Durham Partnership, Derwentside Homes and East Durham Homes.

Ellen Foxton, Managing Director of EnterpriseDP, said:

“Derwentside Homes are a perfect fit with the work of the partnership. We are both committed to doing all we can to address unemployment in the county through the provision of work, skills and training opportunities.”

“Joining forces with Derwentside Homes builds on the joint working we have done together over the last few years and is a natural progression for the relationship. In that time, we have built up trust between the two organisations and established a common style and culture. It will enable our new partnership company to grow and prosper, delivering more benefits to more people and across a wider area.”

Throughout the transaction, East Durham Partnership was supported and advised by property and commercial law specialists from Swinburne Maddison, one of the region’s leading law firms.

Alex Wilby, Partner at Swinburne Maddison, said:

“We are delighted to have been appointed by East Durham Partnership to work on their behalf, to guide and support them through a delicate process, playing a key role in setting up the asset purchase agreement and advising on the necessary related property matters to ensure a smooth transition of services to EnterpriseDP.”