Barod, a new social enterprise that’s ‘ready’ for action
Barod is a social enterprise set up by a group of people with and without learning difficulties, that possess skills that can be used to provide important services to other organisations. This evening, they’re due to be featured on the BBC Radio Wales ‘Wales at Work’ programme, as it looks into the issue of access to work for disabled people. Here’s the inside story on this rapidly emerging organisation…
One of Barod’s key services is reviewing publicity materials to make them more accessible for people with learning difficulties. Barod defines its business as being “a new and innovative training and information company” specialising in “bridging the gap between public and private sector organisations and people with learning disabilities”. The company grew from the People First movement in Wales. Barod is Welsh for ‘Ready’.
The new organisation chose to set up as a CIC (Community Interest Company) that has a membership and Board of Directors. A CIC is a legal format designed for social enterprises. The Wales Co-operative Centre became involved in supporting the initial group that consisted of Alan Armstrong, Jonathan Richards, Anne Collis and Mal Cansdale, in late 2012. The Centre supported them to decide upon the most appropriate legal structure to adopt and to gain access to mentoring support from another social enterprise that was able to share its experiences with them.
The driving force behind the company is the commitment of the members themselves. They believe in co-operative principles and they wish to contribute to the economy and society in general as equal participants. This is why they have rejected the option of becoming a charity and have embraced the idea of being a number of individuals that have come together as a social enterprise to create their own jobs. In line with their co-operative principles, all employees share decision-making and share in participation in activities.
One of the company’s most successful services is designing or rewriting the publicity materials of organisations into everyday language and more straightforward graphic formats. This enables their clients to maximise their effectiveness by being able to reach and communicate with groups of people that would normally find themselves either excluded or isolated in some way.
To date they have been able to secure contracts with organisations that include Public Health Wales, Welsh Government and Energy Saving Trust, and discussions and negotiations are in progress with several others. Another interesting feature of Barod is its composition as a virtual organisation, operating with a multi-locational business model that currently includes a presence in the towns of Carmarthen, Neath and Bangor, with plans for developing other locations as the business grows.
From the outset in February 2013, the company has grown rapidly to a point where it is now (in 2014) employing 5 people and plans include further growth in 2015.
Barod has been supported with business consultancy and development services through the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government Funded Social Enterprise Support Project.