Suffolk: New campaign encouraging shoppers to `buy social’

Realise Futures

Realise Futures - Credit: Mecha Morton

Shopping locally and creating local jobs too

Suffolk-based Realise Futures, which helps people with disabilities and disadvantages to find work and employment, has launched a campaign to encourage people around the county to buy into the fast-growing social enterprise sector

The Do a Great Deal initiative highlights the opportunity to do something good for someone else when they purchase a product or service from a social enterprise.

Realise Futures operates six social enterprises, from sites in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Woodbridge and Felixstowe, with all the profits generated being ploughed by into the business to create more jobs and learning opportunities.

Chief executive Sarah Sharlott said said: “We are really excited about this campaign, and we want people to get involved and register when they have done a great deal with Realise Futures on the website .

“This gives details of what they can do to help others ? for example, buying a cappuccino and cupcake at one of the Realise Futures’ cafés, or buying one of our 100% recycled plastic benches.

“By doing so, they help provide advice, training, skills development and paid employment for people who are disabled or disadvantaged, helping people who are long-term unemployed, ex-offenders and Army veterans.

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Besides running six cafés around the county, including those at theTown Hall in Ipswich, Felxistowe library and the West Stow Anglo Saxon village, Realise Futures staff make award-winning outdoor furniture from recycled plastic at the company’s Eco Furniture factory in Ipswich and operate a vegetable delivery box service in and around Ipswich from its Growing Places business.

Staff also provide outdoor catering services, sell wholefood and snack boxes at Poppy’s Pantry in Woodbridge, and offer printing, business packaging and fulfilment services and digital signs from offices at Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.

The campaign website shows how two cartoon characters, dad Mike and daughter Rebecca, do a good deal by “buying social”, making a difference in their community where jobs and being created.

Alongside poster and advertising campaigns, Realise Futures will be showcasing the campaign at its stand at the Suffolk Show on May 28 and 29, with competitions and special events also planned over the coming months.

Around 40% of Realise Futures’ workforce are themselves disabled or disadvantaged in some way, with the company helping to prepare people for work in the wider economy and providing purporseful activity for others who are further away from mainstream employment.

Last year it created created 128 jobs, helped 7,000 people to access community learning across Suffolk ? 2,000 of them aged under 24 ? gave 95,000 people careers advice throughout the eastern region, supported 92 people into employment of 16 hours or more working with local businesses and in its social businesses, 24 of which were therapeutic placements.

“Realise Futures is about working with our local communities to make a difference through employment and learning, making products and providing services,” added Sarah. “We hope people will see they can do a great deal by buying social.”

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