November 26, 2009

Project 390: Young People the focus of IKEA and Young Foundation

'Damaged but recoverable' young people are helped into Ikea jobs by Project 390, reports Chrisanthi Giotis of Social Enterprise Live

A social enterprise born out of a corporate social responsibility programme in multinational furniture company Ikea has just received backing from the Young Foundation. Youth charity the Vine Trust has run a work experience scheme with Ikea in Wales since 2006. That scheme has expanded to other stores and has provided 300 young people from tough backgrounds with work experience while being supported by a team of youth workers.
30% of the young people have gone on to gain full-time work with Ikea thorough the scheme.

As of last week the project also received the support of the Young Foundation. The plan is that the programme will break off from the youth charity and become its own self-sustaining social enterprise spin-off called Project 390. (The figures 390 make up the internal code used by Ikea to describe furniture that has been damaged but is recoverable.)

Project 390 will compete with commercial organisations that provide staff to the furniture company. It plans to expand to many more UK Ikea stores and eventually other large companies.

Young Foundation director Geoff Mulgan said: 'The answer to Britain's growing youth unemployment crisis lies with social enterprises like Project 390.

'We have invested in Project 390 because it shows that with some innovative thinking and corporate responsibility we can provide unemployed young people with their first rung on the jobs ladder.'

Project 390 has received £30,000 from the Young Foundation's Learning Launchpad programme: £5,000 as a grant and also £25,000 in quasi-equity - that money will be recovered by the Young Foundation through Project 390 revenue when it becomes self-sufficient. The social enterprise will predominantly work with ex-offenders, care leavers and teenagers with serious barriers to employment.

The Learning Launchpad announced another £80,000-worth of funding to three other social enterprises working with young people last week. These were Space Unlimited, a Scottish creative consultancy staffed by teenagers, women's leadership project Ignite, and Social Links, which helps young unemployed people with social networking skills get jobs in creative businesses in East London. The next round of applications closes on 8 January 2010.

The Young Foundation is a parter of the 5th Global YES Summit, Rework the World.

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