The changing face of social enterprise — Changes Gardening

We’ve written about Changes UK, the Digbeth-based recovery charity before on this blog. Since moving into Birmingham just a few years ago, the organisation is well on the way to realising its ambition of making this city the capital of recovery services.

But what does a drug and alcohol recovery charity have to do with social enterprise, you ask yourselves. A lot, in fact.

Founder Steve Dixon realised some years ago that one of the most important things those embarking on recovery need is employment — and the purpose, pride and self-respect that come along with this.

Changes Gardening is part of an increasingly significant movement of user-led social enterprises that are helping people take control of their economic lives and their employment

And so he began to plan ways that the charity could create employment opportunities for those in recovery — and hit on the idea of helping service-users of the charity create and grow their own social enterprises.

The newest venture is Changes Gardening — a complete social enterprise gardening service. Now, if you have ever tried to find a gardening service — whether to look after a modest plot of grass, take over a garden that the owner can no longer manage, or reclaim a neglected jungle — you’ll know that quality and dependability vary enormously. Finding a decent, dependable service at a good price is hard.

Changes UK has gone about things the right way — looked for a gap in the market where quality, dependability and top-flight customer service can be turned to real account…and then developed a social enterprise to fill that niche. 

Changes Gardening provides a full range of high-quality garden maintenance services and through this creates employment and training opportunities  for people who are determined to turn their lives around. But it’s what customers say that counts — and the testimonials on the enterprise’s website and Facebook page speak  for themselves.

Changes Gardening can be seen as part of an increasingly significant movement in what are being called user-led social enterprises. We are starting to see these emerge in recovery services, mental health and disability (see here and here for discussion of the latter). These user-led social enterprises mark a new phase of growth in the sector — but in a sense they are also helping to return social enterprise to its roots: trading for social purpose and helping those who might otherwise be marginalised in the conventional labour market take control of their economic lives and their employment. 

If you’re in the market for gardening services — whether domestic, business or institutional — you could do a lot worse than investigate Changes Gardening.

Changes Gardening: contact James Coote on M. 07945 078723; office 0121 796 4080 or send mail.

Changes Gardening on Facebook.

Leaflet.

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Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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