'My wife classes it as a midlife crisis' – Ipswich contractor becomes charity CEO
- Credit: Jessica Coppins
An Ipswich contractor sold his company so he could get more involved in giving back to his local community.
Rob Hart gave up his Ipswich contracting business Drill Masters before joining disabilities charity Genesis Orwell Mencap.
Inspired by his work at Ipswich Round Table, Mr Hart joined Ipswich decluttering charity Lofty Heights in 2019 and subsequently joined Genesis as its CEO this month. He will split his time between both charities.
"My wife classes it as a midlife crisis but I don't," he said. "I needed a new challenge in life and I sold my business.
"It was never my plan to start at Genesis but it fits in with my lifestyle right now.
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"I'm pleased to make more of an impact."
Mr Hart, who took over from Nino Serritiello, already has plans to improve Genesis by doing up the centre on Wright Road, modernising their working practices, and getting the diner up and running.
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"The staff here have done a fantastic job," he said. "It just looks a bit tired and needs some brightening up."
The diner, which opened in 2018, is now being used for an open space to do activities as the centre needs more space to ensure social distancing.
"There are many people who cannot go out to a normal restaurant for a meal," he said. "As they have quite large wheelchairs and mobility issues that make it difficult attending a restaurant in a normal setting."
The charity's service users have also dropped by around half due to the pandemic with daycare customers going from 148 compared to January 2020 when they had 249.
However, Mr Hart is confident in their financial future as a grant from Suffolk County Council has been able to plug the money they would raise through people using the service.
"We have a number of customers keen to return but we cannot accommodate them due to social bubbles set at 15," Mr Hart added.
However, their sales of garden furniture and bikes - made and repaired by people with disabilities – have increased.
Since August 2020, when people returned to their workshop, Genesis has seen a 50% increase in sales. In March 2021 they had a 100% increase in sales compared to March 2020.
Its Green Bike Project has also increased sales by 61% and in March 2021 sales were 350% higher than in March 2020.