Things have moved on significantly. In March 2020 iSE secured a fifteen year lease on the building under a community asset transfer arrangement with the council. The audit carried out as part of this process revealed that the Women’s Enterprise Hub creates the equivalent of £4m of social value in the local community every year.
This amply demonstrates the valuable role the Hub has been playing and continues to play — but even this hasn’t remained static. The coronavirus pandemic has created a level of local community need that is beyond anything previously seen in the locality.
The Women’s Enterprise Hub has now been repurposed as the Women’s Enterprise & Community Hub (WECH), reflecting the need to take a much broader and integrated approach that can meet complex local needs of debt, poverty, marginalisation in the conventional labour market and Covid-19-related hardship.
This shift in focus has enabled the WECH to raise additional resources, create two more specialist support roles, and extend its range of services. For example, during the worst of the pandemic, a newly-established food bank swiftly came to support fifty local families.