Social Enterprise of the Year 2011

Imagematch Social Enterprise CIC

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Imagematch Social Enterprise CICFounders: Mark Gibson Year Started: 2010 Website: www.imagematch.co.uk

In an increasingly competitive job market, initiatives like Imagematch are a lifeline for the young unemployed – particularly those with the odds stacked against them. Connecting under-resourced businesses with workless young people, Imagematch provides recruitment and training opportunities on a not-for-profit basis.

Working with young people from a variety of backgrounds and age groups – including victims of redundancy and ex-convicts – the common characteristic of each candidate is that they are long-term unemployed. Imagematch supports their transition into permanent employment, by providing short-term work placements – many of which develop into full-time contracts. Indeed, 80% of the 200 candidates Imagematch has placed so far went on to secure ongoing employment or training opportunities.

As well as placements, the new business also supports career development through a range of work-related courses, which are delivered online via a personalised ‘virtual learning environment.’ These e-learning qualifications include IT, enterprise, business and self-development, up to OCN accreditation level two.

Since its incorporation in March 2010, Imagematch has secured a number of large contracts in its area of operation, which encompasses Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Hereford, Worcester, mid and north Wales. These have helped the start-up jump ahead of its competitors, placing more candidates and achieving a turnover of over £1m in its first year.

This achievement is reflected by the increased levels of employment in local charities and businesses and the improved employability of the young people in the start-up’s target area. However, Imagematch has used its success to further invest in the local community by donating £1000 to Hope House children’s hospice, local charity Cambrian Heritage Railways and Wave-Length Social Enterprise – a fellow start-up which aims to challenge social attitudes to the disabled.

Judges' comments: Imagematch really reflects the times we’re living in and judges felt its work is to be highly commended for giving people purpose. It treats people as individuals and considers their needs, priorities and circumstances by helping people without work to gain the qualifications and training they need and then successfully placing them. In its first year, this community interest company placed 200 candidates, all of whom worked their entire six month placement, with 80% gaining employment at the end of it.

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