Three Sisters Care is the winner of the Social Enterprise of the Year Award at the 8th Annual Precious Awards. The trophy was presented to us by Doug Richard of Dragon's Den, at an Awards Ceremony at the prestigious Institute of Directors, Pall Mall on 22nd October 2014. You can more about it on our CEO's blog right here.
You can also read two articles by Jobeda article in The Guardian. The first one about being a social enterprise in the care sector and the latest one about the Living Wage for care workers.
What makes us a social enterprise?
Three Sisters Care is dedicated to contributing to our local community, developing our employees and creating social capital for all our stakeholders, including our service-users. We employ local staff and engage local suppliers.
What is a social enterprise?
Social enterprises (or social businesses) operate like a business, selling products or services, but the core remit of the business is to behave ethically and create positive social impact, rather than making money for share-holders. This means that we never cut corners to make money, in fact, we invest more money into our service in order to improve the experience of both our customers and our staff. Because of this, social enterprises make less profit than normal businesses and we put that profit back into our company and our community. Being a business means we can be viable and sustainable in our own right and we can create profits to invest in our community.
How is Three Sisters Care a social enterprise?
Three Sisters Care is run by three sisters; award-winning social entrepreneur, Jobeda Ali, healthcare worker and community activist, Rahena Begum and OFSTED registered child minder, Jaida Begum. It is a local family business aimed at improving services for the community in which we grew up. We went to school in Hackney, grew up in Tower Hamlets and now live in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking & Dagenham. We are passionate about improving our lives and our communities as East Londoners.
1. Creating jobs
At one time or another we've all been unemployed. We specially started Three Sisters care to bring jobs to East London and surrounding boroughs. There is more demand than supply in the care market and the more agencies that exist, the more work can be available for local people. We are especially interested in providing employment for people new to the labour force such as returning mothers who have lots of experience in caring in a family capacity, but many of these jobseekers have little or no qualifications or professional experience. We are keen to create training and volunteering opportunities for them and so far about 20% of our workforce (we have 71 Care Assistants as of Oct 2014) are new to the labour market.
2. Employee Development
We pay our care workers and personal assistants above market rate for their work and we invest in their growth and development. We encourage them to upskill and move on from us to become nurses or physiotherapists. This is very different to most agencies in London, who employ low-skilled workers and pay them minimum wage to keep their profits high and the workers dependent. If our workers feel that they are respected and supported in their aspirations and ambitions, then we believe our customers get a better quality of service.
3. Community Partners
We work with local community partners such as gardening projects and inter-generational projects to bring added value to our customers through linking them in with what's happening in their local areas. If older people and people with disabilities have social interactions and connection with family and friends, this also helps to provide the support that some turn to the state for. Working as a member of our network of community organisations, helps people remain independent from state support for longer.
4. Training and awareness for family carers
Many people with caring responsibilities for older people or relatives with disabilities do not access training due to financial barriers. We open all our training to members of our local community to come along and access for free - whether it's learning about dementia or practical training on moving and handling or first aid, 20% of all our inhouse training is reserved for family carers.
Long Term Social Enterprise Aspirations
Jobs for Service Users
In the longer term, we want to run an employability programme that helps our younger service users with disabilities gain employment skills and get paid employment.
Our goal is to become London's first co-operative (employee owned) social care provider and we are working with various local cooperative development agencies to help us transform.