Staff from Vägen Ut! visited 5 WAYS on Wednesday 3 May for a seminar with members and staff about setting up and managing social enterprises.
Vägen Ut! is based in Gothenburg, Sweden and runs 13 social enterprises that provide real jobs for people who struggle to gain employment due to past issues with alcohol/drugs, criminal justice or disabilities.
They provide environmentally friendly products and services then reinvest the profits to create more jobs. The cooperative has an annual turnover in excess of £33 million. Vägen Ut! means ‘A Way Out’ in English.
5 WAYS Manager Jo Byrden said: ”The work that the Vägen Ut! team do in Sweden is incredible. Helping people who are unable to find work to create their own businesses is fabulous. Not only that, the diversity of the business they run and the people they support is so impressive and they do it all with the highest green credentials”.
“It’s been a wonderful learning opportunity for us and has really motivated the team and the members to look at how we might begin to create our own social enterprises here in Leeds, using the many skills and experiences of the members. Our members are full of creativity, ideas and enthusiasm. Now it feels like just a matter of deciding where and how we start.
The staff from Vägen Ut! were also impressed with 5 WAYS. Linda Tolly of Vägen Ut! said: “It’s truly inspiring to come to 5 WAYS and see what they are doing. It’s clearly a real meeting place of hope and creativity where people can help each other. We don’t have anything exactly like this in Sweden.”
Vägen Ut! was visiting a range of recovery services in the North of England that also included Aspire in Doncaster and Recovery Connections in Middlesborough.
Pictured above from left to right are 5 WAYS Manager Jo Byrden with Linda Tolly, Charlotte Gustavsson and Angelica Lindblad of Vägen Ut!