One Ark reflects on year of success as it plans growth and expands team

Liverpool City Region investment charity, One Ark, is celebrating 12 months of achievement alongside its one year anniversary, and has undertaken an analysis of key projects to measure long-term sustainability in terms of wellbeing and economic impact.

Alongside drawing tangible results from its previous activity, the charity has also appointed a new Director of Enterprise and Investment, Helen Wills - who has previously held senior positions at Balfour Beatty Investments and regeneration programmes across the North West - to focus on growth and increasing the number of collaborative partnerships it undertakes.

Since its launch, One Ark, part of the First Ark Group, has focused on creating social value and economic impact opportunities for businesses and individuals across the Liverpool City Region. One such project was New Horizons, which supported young people at risk of becoming Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET), utilising a collaborative delivery approach in conjunction with social enterprise Fusion 21 and Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership.

As with all its work, One Ark used HACT, a detailed econometrics model which is designed to evidence and measure the social impact, to evaluate the success of New Horizons. In total, the campaign secured 139 jobs with local employers, provided qualifications for 1,030 individuals and improved the school attendance of 1,549 Merseyside students, engaging with a total of 2,819 young people.

Another successful project was One Ark’s Eco Teams, which sought to provide the region’s residents with effective ways to save both energy and in turn, money. Engaging with over 1,000 individuals directly, a total of £78,000 was cut from Knowsley residents’ energy bills and 1,000 tonnes of CO² was saved. Furthermore, Eco Teams enabled 3,720 people to access a Free Home Energy Audit, an assessment which identifies how a property’s energy is used and how this can be reduced to create environmental and financial benefits.  

In addition, following extensive research into the needs of those it aims to support, One Ark has pledged a commitment to several digital inclusion projects in an aim to tackle issues associated with the internet. This includes the provision of internet access and tablets to a high-rise residential development in an area of deprivation. This allowed the residents and a further 900 SMEs to access job opportunities, essential services and future support via affordable, pay as you go Wi-Fi, with free access to employment and government websites. As part of this project, 78 individuals received training on internet use, 56 of which had never previously used the web.

One Ark has also worked with Barclays to hold digital inclusion events in the community, which provide top tips on using the internet. In order to maximise engagement for these events, the charity conducted wide-reaching marketing and PR activity.

Commenting on the charity’s plans for growth, Helen Wills said: “Collaboration is something that doesn’t happen enough in the public or private sector, despite the benefits it provides for all involved. I’m keen for One Ark to build on its success and to utilise like-minded partners in order to deliver tangible results, which provide measurable economic and wellbeing impact for those we aim to support.

“Conducting such activity will also provide concrete returns for One Ark, building resilience and sustainability for us as a charity as well as for our partners and beneficiaries.”

Posted by on March 16th, 2015


The Budget 2014 - social enterprise

“I welcome further Government encouragement towards social enterprises. The Chancellor has announced a new 30% tax relief rate for individuals investing in social enterprises.  With tax relief incentives set (up to £290k is allowable over three years), the investment in social enterprises is likely to increase, encouraging private sector businesses to contribute to or set up foundations and funds to benefit the communities they work within.

“The measures announced today have the potential to see millions of pounds moving towards the support of the UK’s social economy, which in turn will allow us, here in the UK, to create sustainable economic growth.  More social investment will create the conditions for change which will inspire individuals and give communities the power to generate long term social and economic solutions. 

“This move shouldn’t be underestimated but likewise must be handled correctly to ensure that there’s enough take up to make today’s announcement a reality.  Those advising businesses now have a responsibility and a role to play in ensuring they promote social investment.”

Income tax threshold rise

“The Government has delivered good news in today’s Budget, with a rise in the income tax threshold, which will subsequently lift many people out of tax altogether.   It’s a critical announcement which should give support to families across our region and beyond. This is encouraging news and one which I hope will positively affect the number of people actively looking to get back into employment.”

“It further reinforces a commitment to ensure that we can make work really pay and I would welcome commitment from the government for further increases in the threshold in future budgets”

Posted by Bob Taylor, CEO of First Ark Group on March 21st, 2014


Locally things are moving apace

Recent figures on High Street trade have been more than disappointing. With some big name causalities, the effects are also felt by the smaller, independent retailers.
But locally things are moving apace. Having attended a recent meeting of the Prescot Town Team at the fantastic, and newly opened Poco Coffee on Eccleston Street, it was clear that some of our local retailers have a mission - to drive business back to the High Street and revitalise Prescot’s town centre. The newly constituted Town Team comprises local retailers, landlords, and representatives from local bodies (including Knowsley Council, Prescot Town Council and Knowsley Chamber of Commerce). Karen Maloney, from Renaissance Health & Beauty based in Prescot, is the Chair of the Town Team.
Developing the Prescot Producer’s market is just one of the steps to success. Held on the first Saturday of each month, it has now become a highlight, attracting traders and shoppers from across the region.
As I understand it, and for the time being, any Knowsley resident or business that is based in the borough can able apply for a FREE stall at Prescot Producer’s market. We are looking for specifically for local food and drink producers, craft/creative goods, and artisan goods. So if you are interested and want to find out more phone 0151 443 2298/4499.
Another bit of good news is that in addition to the above there is money in the pipeline; some £1.89m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This grant funding will be used to support conservation in the town centre, eg. Projects to improve the historic appearance of the town, emphasising Prescot’s rich heritage, as well as giving local people the opportunity for training in construction and restoration techniques.
Finally, do remember that 4 July 2013, is “Independents’ Day”, which is a great opportunity to show how much you value your independent shop.

Posted by Lesley Martin-Wright Chief Executive at Knowsley Chamber of Commerce on June 10th, 2013


Working Well in Knowsley

Figures from the CBI show that nearly every year in the UK some 200 million days are lost through sickness absence. Here in Knowsley the Working Well initiative has just emerged from its first year of operation. The scheme (a joint initiative between Knowsley Council and Knowsley Chamber), encourages employers to work towards six commitments ie. Healthy eating, mental health and wellbeing, increasing physical activity/active travel, health and safety, sensible drinking habits, and smoking cessation.

We know that creating a healthy workplace is not the work of a single individual, but a co-ordinated activity, and the Chamber is ideally placed to help you, ensuring the needs of individual businesses are met. With grant funding available to Knowsley based companies of up to £500 this can help you to “kick start” the process (companies with 2-249 staff). Some 30 companies have already benefited from last year’s grant funding scheme, eg. Oldham Bros, Mackrell & Thomas, IBL Cold Storage, the Fieldway Group, to name a few. We have seen innovative projects coming on stream, including fruit on the desk, bike to work, Active Leisure passes, and even an allotment springing up!

Our staff are readily available to provide advice and guidance so contact Knowsley Chamber to find out more on 0151 477 1356.

Posted by Lesley Martin-Wright Chief Executive at Knowsley Chamber of Commerce on May 10th, 2013

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