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  • Writer's pictureSue Williamson

A New Year During a Recession

Here we are again, our ninth January since we began in 2014, very much still here, happy in the knowledge that we just completed an absolutely cracking term which I will summarise later on, and there is also some good stuff coming up in the next couple of months to tell you about too - and yet …I would not be telling the truth if I were to say that everything is rosy, and that it is all going to be plain sailing. Like every other organisation and every other community in the country– (not to mention families, individuals too ...) Tang Hall SMART does not operate in isolation but is part of a wider society and affected by it.

The following quotation is fresh off the press from the Social Enterprise Barometer – Autumn 2022: a quarterly report which is published by SEUK.

“ …thousands of social enterprises may not survive the winter amid rising energy and operating costs and concerns over accessing contracts and funding. Across all indicators of social enterprise business health, the report shows signs of significant strain over the last quarter. Cashflow and reserves positions have worsened, turnover and growth expectations are down, and staff numbers have declined.”

That is worrying news indeed as social enterprises are accountable for around £60 billion of UK output and 2 million employees. Now more than ever, when public services are straining under heavy cuts, social enterprise could be part of the solution but it would seem that in our sector too, there are huge problems.

We are okay at Tang Hall SMART and have grown steadily, with a good diversity of revenue, and, as has been reported elsewhere, (for example in this recent report from The Press) we keep our staffing costs down so that whilst we are all paid ‘enough’ (the real living wage), there isn’t a huge differential. We don’t have a situation whereby some managers are paid enormous amounts at the detriment to the financial viability of the company. We keep costs as low as we can, we are economical, we are entrepreneurial – and we continue to strive to find ways for people to come to us and benefit by all we do, even if there is no obvious way of funding them. Business wise, it has been hard and will continue to be for some time I think, but it is okay -not brilliant, but okay, and that is the truth of it. (If you are someone who is in a position to help us financially however, whether as a one-off or more regularly, that would be brilliant and most welcome - here is our new donations page - I appreciate though that everyone has been affected by the economy, and we are all tightening our belts).

As for everything else, well – last term was a roaring success, and we did all of this and more!

* Continued with our Post 16 educational programmes for 29 young people with additional needs.

* Continued with our programme for adults who have been homeless.

·* Delivered a new programme for young adults with additional needs focused on employability goals.

* Taught sports qualifications for the first time

* Expanded our KS4 work for students registered at local schools.

* Added to our community clubs and increased footfall (approximately 70 people per week)

* Started bespoke programmes for adults with learning disabilities

* Ran several Music in the Café events

* Hosted several Tea Dances

* Celebrated music across the organisation with our stupendous Barbican concert

* Operated out of TWO sites – Burnholme and The Jam Factory

This term we have a fabulous new event coming up, a regular monthly ‘Band Night’ to be held at Theatre 41, which will be an excellent opportunity to dance and move around to the sounds of our first class musicians, in addition to our regular spring concert, and our Music in the Cafe and Tea Dances. And - at its early stages, with more information to follow ... we are starting a new charity, Tang Hall Employment, to extend the work we do. That is a very exciting development and I can't wait to talk about this more as the year goes on.

I want to finish on a more personal note: I really do hope that you and yours had a good Christmas and that life is good for you. If it wasn’t good, and if you have identified anything at all that you think Tang Hall SMART might be able to help with, perhaps by signposting you to where help might be available, or just because you want to off-load about something, then please get in touch. It might be that all we can do is listen, but someone wise once said that a problem shared is a problem halved. This can be very true.

Happy New Year to you all! Best wishes, Suex

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