As T2S manager for Mersey Youth Support Trust (MYST – see what I did with the subject line!!!) thanks to Rank’s Sharing Good Practice Bursary, I took the opportunity to arrange a 2-centre visit in late August 2023 to meet up with 2 of my T2S Peer-to-Peer Managers – Patrick Masih @ The Jericho Organisation in Birmingham and Natasha Burnell at People and Work in the Rhondda

The aim of the tour was

  1. In Birmingham, to identify opportunities, best practice, etc for MYST for social enterprise management for improved social trading at our hub in Liverpool
  2. In the Rhondda, to identify opportunities, tips etc for community “shop front” ideas to develop greater local impact

The day started off with an early(ish!) start driving from Liverpool to Birmingham (the M6 was surprisingly and welcomingly clear of traffic jams for a change!) and I arrived at The Jericho Organisation around 9.30.

An informative overview presentation by Patrick & Joe (Jericho’s T2S Leader) completely changed my expectations of what they do from a brief conversation with Patrick at the T2S2023 opening event in the Lakes. The development of the organisation from the early days (breaking down walls of opportunity – hence the name) to what is now an incredible set up of social enterprises linked together under the Jericho umbrella. The organisation of these enterprises and the way Jericho’s impact projects feed into them is something that MYST can learn from and hopefully develop its own income development strategy going forward. I met some of the amazing team during the brief tour of Jericho’s ReUsers and Woodshack initiatives and returned to HQ for a tasty lunch (provided by their ChangeKitchen partner) and met more members of the team.

After more questions and answers with Patrick & Joe, it was time to hit the road again to get to my hotel for the evening – unfortunately, my timing was out and I hit the Cardiff rush hour and the commuter traffic up into the Valleys before checking in to the Blueberry Hotel – a real gem of a boutique hotel in Pontypridd.

Next morning it was up and away to meet Tash at the Y Siop Fach Sero (Zero Waste Shop) in Ferndale. Blake, Tash’s T2S Leader, gave me all the background info about how they were helping to introduce a traditional community to a more contemporary approach to consumerism with ethically-sourced supplies in the cafe and shop, recycled clothes and Tash’s “Play It Again Sport” section. After a coffee and more chat it was up further into the Valleys to meet Nova at RE:MAKE Valleys, a relatively new zero-waste shop and community space in Maerdy! Besides the repair, reuse shop, they also have a Library of Things initiative – again supporting the local community with their “Borrow don’t buy” service. Finally back to Tonypandy to meet Kris and Ethan at the Little Shed – again doing amazing things to support the community. What was fantastic about the Valleys tour was the partnerships and cooperation between the different organisations all working towards make the world a nice place (or at the Rhondda corner of it).

Finally, with a long drive back to the ‘Pool, it was fond farewell to Tash (who embarrassed me by taking the only photo of the visit of me and Kris from the Little Shed – my massive bad!!) before obeying “the Google”’s warning about crashes on the M4 and M6 and deciding to drive up through the centre of Wales.

There is so much to take into consideration for MYST’s future focus of a more community-led organisation along with developing multiple income streams – a lot of strategic thinking and reporting for the trustees to consider!

Thanks to all in Birmingham and the Rhondda and I look forward to meeting Patrick, Joe, Tash and Blake at the Rank Conference in Leeds in October!

Original article posted on RankNet here (members-only sign-in required)

Share This