ON THE GROUND: Goodwin Centre

Scheme: A resident-led provider of community services to Hull's deprived Thornton Estate and Riverside area

Funding: Turnover of £3.2 million mainly through government agencies and Hull City Council

Objectives: To improve the quality of life for the residents of the Thornton Estate and surrounding areas

The visit of social enterprise minister Stephen Timms to the Goodwin Centre in Hull brought a fresh boost to its workers. While the minister's whistlestop tour of social enterprises certainly pushed the Government's relations with the voluntary sector into the foreground, it also highlighted the role that sector workers on the ground play in improving the lives of people living in some of the most deprived areas.

Started in 1994 by a group of residents unhappy with the proposed sale of land to a developer, the Goodwin Centre employs 64 full-time workers and has an annual turnover of £3.2 million. This money comes from a wide array of government agencies including the Single Regeneration Budget fund.

Along the way it has revamped a desolate estate previously littered with substance abusers' needles, pockets of prostitution and high levels of unemployment.

The centre now incorporates a community cafe, conference facilities, a 25-place creche, a 16-place IT suite and a community jobshop.

It also runs a part-funded New Deal project, which provides work experience and training to local unemployed 18- to 24-year-old people, as well as three Children's Fund projects and English-language tuition for asylum seekers.

The centre has also installed a wireless broadband network, which incorporates a breakthrough CCTV system.

To take advantage of its experience of this technology, the centre is bidding for a £6.8 million contract for a broadband network across Hull which will allow online learning and e-voting.

As well as being only one out of two community groups nationally to be approved to run three Neighbourhood Warden Schemes, the centre also owns its own construction company.

For John Illingworth, finance director at the Goodwin Centre, the results speak for themselves. "It is a joy to come to work. We did a quality of life survey in 1998 and people put forward all these things they wanted," he says. "We have managed to achieve most of them."

He believes that many in the private sector have started to turn their backs on funding social enterprise projects with the exception of the banks.

He hopes that ministers stick to recent promises to incorporate social enterprise in the Whitehall strategy. "I hope that it is not just idle rhetoric," he says.

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