As the Coalition diversifies, enhancing representation across communities, we’re pleased to welcome Harrogate Skills 4 Living Centre (HS4LC) as a new partner of C4PC.
Harrogate Skills 4 Living Centre has been charity for 25 years, supporting people living with learning disabilities and autism. Its origins are rooted in a community need for support for people with learning disabilities being discharged from long stays in hospital. It started as an organisation which signposted to services, but quickly realised there was little to signpost to. This resulted in the development of day services to get groups doing meaningful activities together – one of very many adaptations, over the course of the last two and half decades.
Today, HS4LC employs 67 staff, owns and runs two residential care homes, a day centre and even a chocolate factory and café! Hadyn Moorby-Davies, who is the Chief Executive of the charity, told us: “The organisation has just grown and grown. It involves spinning a lot of plates, but it has paid dividends because it has meant that we’ve survived really well throughout the pandemic, because we’d diversified our income streams.
“In 2014 we received a significant amount of grant funding which was a stepping stone to social investment funding. That allowed us to buy the two residential care homes, which were in administration at the time. If we hadn’t got that investment, I’m not sure we would be here today. The care homes support 26 people with learning disabilities and autism and make the day centre activities possible.
“In April 2020 we launched our social enterprise, Harrogate Chocolate Factory. It has gone from strength to strength, adding a café, which also serves a training centre for our students’ internship and employment programmes.”
The factory specialises in making bean to bar chocolate and Hadyn says it is not only a hit with the public, but with their students, “It really matches the skillset of our students because they are often good at picking up repetitive, systematic processes and chocolate-making is just that. A number of them can do the whole process from bean to bar without support, which is absolutely brilliant. We’ve already employed three students in our café as Saturday staff and we hope that we can encourage even more to set up their own businesses, through our education and employment services.”
Hadyn’s path to leading the charity was unusual, starting off in pharmaceutical sales, before contracting a viral illness which led to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When he was eventually well enough to return to work ten years later, he set up a gardening business which developed into landscaping and becoming involved in landscaping community projects. He told us, “While I was doing that, I realised that I wanted to do something that was more community-focussed. I think it was related to being ill for so long; I felt like I wanted to give back. So, I went to university and did a degree and then a Masters in health and social care management and started working at a gardening nursery for people with learning disabilities. As soon as I started working with people with learning disabilities, I knew that was the space I wanted to be in.”
After completing a social enterprise course, Hadyn saw the potential for HS4LC, “I kind of realised that was my skillset, thinking outside of the box, trying to do things differently. I love the idea of social enterprises because I’m not particularly money-orientated – often that feels a bit empty to me – so having that social aspect to it really motivates me. I think it could solve a lot of the world’s problems if we became more socially-focussed in our businesses.”
Hadyn hopes that HS4LC joining the Coalition for Personalised Care will help them connect across the broader landscape of health and social care and raise the voices of the people they support, “There is great power in collaboration; it allows us to listen and learn from each other. We see becoming a partner of C4PC as an opportunity to make valuable connections and add strength to our voice. As a charity, we want to make sure that people have the opportunity to overcome the barriers and systemic inequalities that they face. That’s the core reason for our existence.”
So what next for HS4LC? Hadyn is conscious that their development is sustainable and measured, “We are very mindful of how we develop; there will be an optimum size because we are locality-based. We have used social media to expand our reach enormously and it has been a massive help to us as we’ve launched our social enterprises, but we also need to think very carefully about digital inclusion.
“We know that we will continue to be strongly rooted in the community, and the chocolate factory gives us a better shop window, allowing us to continue to increase that connection. It’s also likely we’ll develop a third social enterprise organically as businesses return to their offices and we provide catering services from our factory café.”
But despite the significant diversification and development, Hadyn is sure of one thing, “The reality is I know we’ll never ‘get there’. We’ll always be in a continual loop of improvement and development. It’s about reflecting and being honest about what we can do to be better. Life moves on and we have to move with it.”