Rob’s award for services to the economy celebrates the Bromley by Bow Centre’s innovative approach to social entrepreneurship that has created hundreds of jobs and earned the organisation international recognition for ground-breaking health and community services.
“I am bowled over at being awarded the British Empire Medal in New Years Honours and so pleased it gives an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable achievements of a remarkable team at the Bromley by Bow Centre day after day, without fanfare – being compassionate and practical in equal measure.”
Pioneering enterprise from the Centre’s beginning
Rob has been involved with the Centre since 1989, when a small community of people from diverse backgrounds came together to work on a handful of exciting projects. Fascinated by their optimism and entrepreneurial spirit, Rob volunteered at the Centre, returning as Chief Executive in 2002.
Today, our award-winning Beyond Business incubation programme is regarded as one of the most dynamic and purposeful examples of harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of local people.
70 new businesses with a combined turnover of £5 million
Many of the new businesses have a focus on supporting disadvantaged young people and finding innovative ways to improve their life chances through creating education and employment opportunities that in turn have a positive, long-term impact on mental wellbeing.
Examples of businesses that have been supported by Beyond Business include:
- Settle, which Rob chairs, a social enterprise that equips young people moving out of care with the skills they need to live independently, helping them to move into their first home
- Dot Dot Dot Property Guardians, an award winning social enterprise that places people who do great volunteering to live as property guardians in buildings that would otherwise be empty
- Find a Balance, a mental health support services social enterprise that, whilst open to all, specialises in black and ethnic minority mental health issues. They focus on young people aged between 8-18+ helping them back into education and/or employment.
Building a reputation nationwide
Established in 1984, The Bromley by Bow Centre is a pioneering charity in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Located in 3 acres gardens, the Centre combines a community hub and a GP practice that provides an extensive range of integrated services based on the idea that health and wellbeing are principally driven by social factors, not medical ones. Our unique model puts individuals in control of their wellbeing, reducing reliance on already stretched health services.
The Centre has grown a reputation for taking strong community projects and turning them into successful social businesses. A novel concept 30 years ago, today social enterprises contribute £24 billion to the economy while creating positive social change.
As a result of this pioneering approach, the Bromley by Bow Centre has become an exemplar model for a “communities in business” approach and has attracted a number of high-profile visitors including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, actor Michael Sheen and numerous senior business leaders.
Over 2,000 people per month are accessing the Centre’s services, improving their own wellbeing and that of their families. The striking success of our model has seen it start to be replicated nationwide with hopes that it can be adopted internationally too.