Ipswich-based Realise Futures ploughs all its profits back into its business with a social mission to improve and promote the economic wellbeing of people who are disadvantaged and/or disabled.
Realise Futures operates across Suffolk and Essex combining commercial trade of products and services alongside work placements, employment and training opportunities.
The primary aim of the business is to improve and promote the economic and social wellbeing of those who are disadvantaged and/or disabled. It employs around 290 people, of which approximately 41% are disabled and/or disadvantaged.
The company is organised in three divisions, Learning and Development, Employment and RF Works (six distinct social businesses). Together they provide professional and tailored opportunities that support people to realise their potential.
Learning and Development is a leading provider of adult education in Suffolk running Ofsted-graded Good courses on behalf of Suffolk County Council from six centres in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Ipswich (x2), Lowestoft, and Newmarket. It supports around 4000 adult learners every year, offering a range of courses in five areas – maths and English, computers and technology, skills for work, health and wellbeing and family learning. It also runs bespoke courses for businesses, offering training for small, medium and large employers across the Eastern region.
Employment delivers employment support services across Suffolk and Essex for people with disabilities on behalf of Essex County Council and the Work and Health Programme in Suffolk on behalf of Shaw Trust. It works with partner organisations to support people who are unemployed, or who have a disability or long-term health condition, to move into sustainable training or work.
RF Works are social businesses providing products and services alongside work placements, employment and training opportunities for those who are disadvantaged and/or disabled. The businesses are:
Eco Furniture: This Ipswich-based social firm makes outdoor furniture made from 100% recycled plastic waste.
St Lawrence Café: Located in Dial Lane, Ipswich, our café is set in a 15 th Century church in the heart of the town. It has many beautiful, original features including stained glass windows and working bells.
Growing Places: This business cultivates seasonal produce and vegetables in Claydon, Ipswich. It runs a vegetable box delivery scheme delivering our own produce as well as that of local suppliers.
Nowton Park Nursery: is based in Bury St Edmunds with staff who specialise in horticulture, growing and cultivating a wide range of plants and shrubs ideal for all domestic and commercial gardens and grounds. All plants are grown within the Victorian Walled Garden at Nowton Park. There is a gardening maintenance team operating in and around Bury St Edmunds which carries out a range of grounds care services.
Poppy’s Pantry: Award-winning Poppy’s Pantry in Melton, Woodbridge, is a retail business selling wholefood, dairy and gluten-free and eco-friendly products. Last year, it won the People Development Award at the Suffolk Coastal Business & Community Awards. Staff run a café at St Mary’s Church, Woodbridge, open on Tuesdays from 10am to 2.30pm.
Fulfilment: This growing business in Ipswich helps to fulfil the packaging requirements of a wide range of businesses in the UK, including well-known brands.
Business Systems Director Jane Sutton said: “All the profits generated by our commercial businesses get ploughed back into the company to create more jobs and learning opportunities for people with disadvantages and/or disabilities.
“For example, if you buy a coffee and cake at one of our cafes, or buying a recycled plastic bench, or have our fresh vegetables delivered to your doorstep by one of our staff, you are helping us help people who face the most barrier to employment and people in your community. It makes sense to buy social and make a difference.”
Did you know: There are more than 100,000 social enterprises in the UK,
contributing £60 billion to the economy.