Social enterprise praised for ‘life-changing’ impact

A Wyrley Birch community centre run by social enterprise Enta has been praised for its ‘profound and life-changing’ effect on local residents.

Lakeside Children’s and Family Learning Centre earned the acclaim in a recent report by Dr Lola Abudu, a Consultant with Public Health Birmingham, which was carried out this summer and published in August.

The Lakes Road centre includes a 50-place children’s nursery, community Cyber café and a number of function rooms. It also offers services such as family support and health classes; benefits and careers advice; drug awareness and sexual health drop-in sessions; and links to Job Centre Plus.

Over the past 12 months, Lakeside Nursery has also given training opportunities to teenagers from the area who otherwise would find themselves unemployed.

Dr Abudu said: “It is clear from the conversations with both service users and community members that Lakeside is held in high regard.

“For individual users the centre provides an opportunity to get advice and support and, at its most dramatic, it has had a life changing impact.”

Dr Abudu’s research included a questionnaire to centre users, local residents and partner organisations.

The report revealed that residents felt Lakeside could have an even greater impact in the future by providing additional activities such as sports, ethnic nights, school holiday activities for youngsters and language classes.

In response, Lakeside manager Geraldine Dowling has already introduced free English classes for new Wyrley Birch residents. Enta is now bidding for city council funding to make the courses permanent.

Geraldine Dowling added: “We know that Lakeside provides a real community hub for the area and it’s great to see it recognised in this report.

“We were delighted to work with Dr Abudu. This research will inform Enta’s future plans to provide even better services for the Wyrley Birch area.”

Enta has worked in Wyrley Birch for more than 14 years, first with the UK Online Centre at Wyrley Hall and, since 2006, via Lakeside.

Dr Abudu’s report concluded: “Lakeside Children’s and Family Learning Centre is a valued resource for the community.

“The centre has had a profound and life changing impact on some of the residents who have used it [and] its role in building relationships within the community appears to have contributed to increased community cohesion.”

Enta is a social enterprise and training provider and, as well as the Lakeside Centre, also runs Little Mill Nursery and Top Lock Cafe, at Mill Wharf. In addition, it offers conference and catering facilities – including a halal kitchen – as well as a landscaping and construction service.

For more information on the Lakeside Children’s and Family Learning Centre call on 0121 386 6150.

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