Independence Matters celebrates ‘social enterprise’ at Dereham Community Hub

The launch and opening of Independence Matters Community Hub in Dereham - From left, Sue Whittaker, MD Sarah Stock, Will Smith Philip Field and Lewis Maund. Picture: Matthew Usher. The launch and opening of Independence Matters Community Hub in Dereham - From left, Sue Whittaker, MD Sarah Stock, Will Smith Philip Field and Lewis Maund. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
4:48 PM

More than 100 guests gathered at a day services centre in Dereham to celebrate the success of a new “social enterprise” model to help people with learning difficulties.

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The launch and opening of Independence Matters Community Hub in Dereham - Cutting of the cake, From left, Lewis Maund, Samantha High, Philip Field and Julian Brown. Picture: Matthew Usher.The launch and opening of Independence Matters Community Hub in Dereham - Cutting of the cake, From left, Lewis Maund, Samantha High, Philip Field and Julian Brown. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Independence Matters is the largest joint staff and council-owned community interest company in the country, with around 750 workers providing care and support services to more than 1,450 people across Norfolk.

It was launched in November as the first “spin-out” social enterprise from Norfolk County Council, with staff transferred from the Personal and Community Support Service after the authority decided to stop running the service directly.

From its headquarters at Dereham Community Hub on Rash’s Green, the organisation now runs 22 centres around the county, supporting adults with dementia, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health problems.

To celebrate the transition of these services, a special event was held earlier today including the judging of a “bake-off” competition, a performance by the hub’s drama group, and an appearance by the venture’s new patron, wheelchair athlete Will Smith, who is originally from Dereham.

The launch and opening of Independence Matters Community Hub in Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.The launch and opening of Independence Matters Community Hub in Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Sarah Stock, managing director of Independence Matters, said: “The success of this social enterprise really does depend on its people – which is a great responsibility but also an enormous opportunity and privilege, and it has absolutely brought out the best in our staff, customers and carers.

“The last few months have been focused on getting the social enterprise up and running and operating smoothly, and this has gone really well. Over the next few months we want to start evolving our services gradually, and this is something we want to build into the culture of the organisation – a flexibility and ability to change what we offer and provide more choice.

“There has been a great spirit of collaboration and enterprise from everyone involved in getting us this far. I’m extremely proud of what has been achieved and I think there’s a lot of optimism about what we can go on to do.”

Philip Field, a parent carer of one of the people who attend Dereham Community Hub, said: “We’ve come a very long way in the last few years, a decade ago I could only dream of having what we do now. It’s amazing what people can do when they work together and I don’t think there’s anything to stop us putting together an excellent service.”

For more information about Independence Matters visit www.independencematters.org.uk, call 0300 790 0508 or email contactus@independencematters.org.uk.

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