The changing face of social enterprise — Miracle Laundry

The Miracle Laundry, Kings Heath (Photo: Jericho Foundation)

The Jericho Foundation in Balsall Heath is far from new. Over the past thirty years this organisation — and the group of social enterprises it operates as a means of creating employment opportunities for some of Birmingham’s most disadvantaged groups — has become a key employer in the local area.

But Jericho’s latest venture most certainly is new: it is the Miracle Laundry, Kings Heath, which opened in June 2017.

A social enterprise laundry? Yes — and this is what makes Jericho such an interesting organisation. There’s something slightly counter-intuitive about the social enterprises it develops.

Let me explain. We are used to seeing social enterprises that are immediately recognisable as such — the services they deliver are their social mission: health, or services to support families or young people, elderly care or services for other specific groups that are vulnerable for a combination of reasons.

But this is not Jericho’s approach. Jericho looks for gaps in the market where it can offer goods and services that have long-term commercial potential and are needed by local communities. In this way it is able to establish social enterprises that offer the greatest opportunities for creating employment and training opportunities for the groups of clients it works with, including disadvantaged young people, ex-offenders and victims of modern slavery. And because they are commercially sustainable enterprises, it is able to use the surpluses created to provide the additional training, mentoring and support its clients need.

Some of its enterprises — such as its recycling and wood recycling services and the more recent ReUsers outlets, which sell ‘upcycled’ goods that would otherwise have ended up in landfill — also deliver additional environmental benefits.

In Jericho’s model you really can see what is often referred to as social enterprise’s ‘triple bottom line’ at work — trading to deliver economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Miracle Laundry is the ninth Social Enterprise from the Jericho Foundation. Others include: Catering, Cleaning, Construction, Landscape, Print, Recycling, The ReUsers and Wood Recycling.

The Miracle Laundry, 282 Vicarage Road, Kings Heath, B14 7NH. 0121 441 5431. Collection and delivery service also available — call for a quote.

The Jericho Foundation 0121 647 1960 or send mail.

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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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