Wednesday July 30 2014

Eco friendly social enterprise helps 1200 vulnerable adults secure work

Eco friendly social enterprise helps 1200 vulnerable adults secure work

A KNOWSLEY-based recycling facility has provided job opportunities for more than 1200 vulnerable adults who were long term unemployed, recovering addicts or ex-offenders since it started five years ago
Elixir Group is a commercial environmental business providing specialist plastic, PVC-U, WEEE, and mixed plastic waste solutions and works to ensure its profits help to create opportunities for vulnerable people. Of the 1200 people, 800 were ex-offenders and 93 per cent of these did not reoffend during engagement with Elixir while 78 per cent have sustained permanent employment.
The company operates from a national recycling centre in Huyton and will be expanding into another site in the UK and taking on an additional ten staff over the next three months bumping numbers to 30.
Speaking about this, co-founder Ben Donnelly, of Knowsley said: “We set up Elixir to help provide opportunities for those people who struggle to find employment through their situation - whether they are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, an ex-offender trying to rehabilitate back into the community or long term unemployed. Being in a vulnerable situation like this makes it very difficult to get back into the workplace. You hear reports of hundreds of people applying to fill two vacancies in Poundland which illustrates how hard it is to get a job - and being from a vulnerable background makes this even more difficult.”
Ben, 36 knows all too well what this is like; an ex-addict himself, he found it almost impossible to get back into employment. “I spoke to many people in the same situation and discovered that, for example, one of the main reasons people re-offend is because they go back to the same place and mix with the same people again. Offering them a job gives them a new environment to focus on a trade, integrate with society and most importantly build their confidence and skills. It is often the first step which is the hardest and so once people get the experience they need from us, they find it easier to gain further employment.”
Many staff join Elixir on a 26-week employment initiative and receive intensive coaching and training in the recycling environment. Over 500 level 2 work based qualifications have been delivered as well as over 3000 training courses.
The social enterprise also provides other services in energy, building, training and charity.
Part of Elixir’s success has been down to close collaboration with the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation which offers commercialisation and R&D support to North West businesses with eco-innovative products, services or processes. Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme, the centre is a collaboration between Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool and international management consultancy, Inventya.

The centre placed University of Liverpool student Jonathon Clarke from the School of Environmental Science on a eight week long student dissertation project with Elixir. Jonathon designed a revolutionary WEEE recycling line for LCD screens which has been implemented by the business. It also assisted in carrying out groundbreaking research into the wind and biomass market which has helped to shape the energy division of the company.
Tom Wright, project manager at the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, said: “Elixir Group is working hard not only to provide social opportunities but also benefit the wider environment at the same time through its recycling services. We have been working closely with the social enterprise for some time and we are delighted to see it reaching such an important milestone in the number of people it has helped get back into employment.”


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