A South Wales charity, which provides disabled and disadvantaged people with the skills and assistance to access paid employment, has secured an £828,000 loan to purchase the site of one of its social enterprises.
ELITE Supported Employment Agency supports hundreds of people every year with vocational opportunities, training and employment. It does this through a variety of projects and services for both individuals and employers, including guidance counselling, preparation courses, employment visits and placements, interview preparation, and specialised person-centred assessment.
The charity, which was founded in Llantrisant in 1994, also runs three social enterprises that mirror its ethos and values – ELITE Paper Solutions, ELITE Training Solutions and ELITE Clothing Solutions. All three not-for-profit organisations empower disabled and disadvantaged people to gain valuable skills and experience through employment, volunteering and training opportunities, providing a stepping stone into employment in the local community.
The new finance from sustainable bank Triodos will be used to purchase the rented property where ELITE Paper Solutions is based in Merthyr Tydfil, allowing the wider charity to continuously reinvest in its long-term future, expanding its work to support more people with disabilities, or those at a disadvantage.
Established in 2015, ELITE Paper Solutions offers confidential destruction, archive storage, and document scanning. It has supported over 500 individuals into training, volunteering and employment since it was founded. The enterprise balances its social mission with an environmental one, offering organisations throughout Wales effective recycling solutions. The new finance will allow the organisation to continue its diversification into cardboard recycling and producing eco-friendly animal bedding.
The charity has plans to become carbon neutral and aims to improve the energy efficiency of the property at Merthyr Tydfil Industrial Park, as well as developing its environmental credentials through other initiatives, such as generating its own energy and switching to electric vehicles.
Andrea Wayman, ELITE Supported Employment Agency’s chief executive officer, commented:
“For nearly 30 years, we’ve helped to support people across Wales to access meaningful, paid employment. We can see the huge difference this makes to individual’s lives, allowing them to grow in confidence, refine skills and boost their CVs.
“This new finance is a catalyst that helps us to expand the offering at one of our key social enterprises, ELITE Paper Solutions, as well as allowing us to have the capital to reinvest in our projects and services, with the aim of helping more people and communities across Wales.”
ELITE has been recognised by various awarding and accredited bodies for its work, including achieving Disability Confident Leader status – the highest level of Disability Confident award. Its recent projects include working as part of the PMusic Cymru consortium alongside Merthyr Institute for the Blind and Warwick Music, which aims to provide thousands of recycled plastic trombones and recorders for use by primary school pupils across Wales.
Rob Keegan, business banking regional manager for Wales at Triodos Bank UK, added:
“As a bank focused solely on lending for positive impact, we are really impressed by ELITE’s track record, with nearly 30 years of making a difference in the community. We’re pleased to support the charity with the finance that allows them to take the next steps in sustainable growth. This is exactly the kind of organisation that Triodos looks to fund.”
The lending was arranged by Triodos’s relationship manager for Wales, Sarah Johnson. The bank was introduced to ELITE by Social Investment Cymru, the social funder at Wales Council for Voluntary Action, the national membership body for voluntary organisations in Wales.
Alun Jones, head of Social Investment Cymru, said:
“We strongly believe in the power of putting money to work in our communities. We’ve been fortunate to be able to support ELITE in several ways during its growth as a business and are pleased that the new lending from Triodos will enable the organisation to continue its impactful work.”
ELITE success story: Stuart Bowen
Stuart approached ELITE in 2014 looking for employment support that would accommodate his learning difficulties and anxiety. The ELITE team enabled Stuart to experience work placements in car valeting and in the recycling industry to boost his CV and self-confidence. Stuart has since found paid employment through ELITE at his local Nando’s in Merthyr Tydfil. Diners and staff have praised his excellent customer service skills!