Ambitious project for the vulnerable’s networking joy

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 28 Jun 2018

A BUSINESS partnership forged over lunch has led to the transformation of a former Scunthorpe shop to provide much-needed accommodation and work opportunities for vulnerable young people.

When Sue Whitfield, managing director of social enterprise Phase, bought a former bed shop in Scunthorpe, The Business Network South Humberside was where she found the right people to help turn her dream into a reality.  

And in the summer the doors will open on 186-188 High Street providing four self-contained flats to add to Phase’s accommodation portfolio, a workshop, an area for upcycling and recycling furniture, and retail space.

Phase provides accommodation, employment opportunities, and support to young people who need extra help to move forward in life. Mrs Whitfield is also the founder of Salvage Row in Scunthorpe, which is a not-for-profit shop selling recycled and restored furniture.

Read more: Salvage Row - the new business breathing life into Scunthorpe High Street

Mrs Whitfield has been a member of The Business Network South Humberside since 2016, and it was at one of the branch’s networking lunches where she linked-up Simon Delaney of chartered building surveyors Delaney Marling Partnership Ltd and David Ettridge of Ettridge Architecture Ltd.

Delaney Marling provided the survey and feasibility study, ran the tendering process to find the builders, and project managed the work, while Ettridge produced the architectural drawings. 

The Business Network South Humberside meets once a month in either Scunthorpe or Grimsby. Members enjoy a free seminar before open networking and then a sit-down lunch.

Simon Delaney, director of Delaney Marling, said: “Sue started talking about what she wanted to do, and I based my talk to link with what Sue was doing and how, before anybody buys a property, we can get a survey done, and we took it from there.”

Read more: Pay offer rejected by Golden Wonder crisp factory workers in Scunthorpe

Mrs Whitfield added: “I haven’t the first clue about construction, tendering, etc, and I think meeting people in the network who shared the same social values as Phase do was really important.”  

“We like to help charities when we can, and we were happy to help Phase,” said Mr Delaney. 

“We got on with Sue and we thought it would be a good project to work on. Without the network, we would never have known about the project because we would never have met Sue.” 

Young people supported by Phase were also able to gain new skills through being given the opportunity to work with the builders to develop skills such as wood planing and joinery. Phase staff members also contributed to the project by helping to fit the kitchens. 

Karen Locking, host of the Business Network South Humberside, said: “It’s great to know that the network and its no-pressure referral system is helping to improve business opportunities in the local community.”

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