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Kennedy Street CIC

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 4 years ago

After moving to Brighton seven years ago, Clare Kennedy set up social enterprise Kennedy Street CIC with the ambition of helping those in the recovery community. Clare's first-hand experience with alcohol addiction inspired her to dedicate her life to working with people in recovery.

Since then, Kennedy Street has moved from strength to strength working closely with business, religious and local communities to facilitate support for those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In 2018 alone, they helped over 70 people from hard to reach communities to find hope, friendship and inspiration.

Kennedy Street is encouraging employers to establish a well-being agenda. For businesses looking to work with the recovery and ex-offender communities, Clare's advice is to:

Make sure that you have a mental health and wellbeing policy in place. Train key people in the business to focus on mental wealth and how best to sign-post provisions of support in the community.

-Clare Kennedy, Director, Kennedy Street CIC

For an employer, working in partnership with rehabilitation organisations like Kennedy Street is vital. Clare is a strong advocate of external support networks. Externalising support fosters a welcoming environment where obstacles like recovery, mental health and housing can be managed safely outside of the workplace. This is more likely to build stability and help individuals who have gone through the criminal justice system thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

Kennedy Street run a number of programmes, two of which focus on developing employability.

The Community Connections initiative is a rolling 5-week programme. It acts as an introduction to starting a not-for-profit social enterprise or a community project. The programme is for those have stabilised in their recoveryand who are looking to build a self-employed business. Kennedy Street offer specialist 1-2-1 social entrepreneur mentoring alongside recovery coaching. They have regular guest speaker social entrepreneurs who share their own experience and guidance. The course content covers business planning, legal structures, pitching and leadership skills, networking tips and tricks, social media and the work/life balance.

Kennedy Street also run Reignite. This programme is a 12-week introduction to employment that focuses on work preparation. Topics include customer service, presentation, budgeting, time management, additional support needs and mental well-being. Reignite empowers individuals so they feel able to start the next steps on the road to sustainable employment and Kennedy Street often recommend people for work placements within the Brighton area.

Outside of this, Kennedy Street also run workshops. Responding to requests, they developed a film-making project and offered training in media production. One candidate, who had been through the criminal justice system, was able to find purpose and focus in developing this passion and has since go onto develop their own film-making business that specialises in social media films.

Volunteers may also gain work skills by helping out in Kennedy Street's dry bar.

For Clare, people in the recovery and ex-offender communities:

Become exceptional members of the workplace. People have seen the gates of hell and they have seen what they don't want to go back to. With a job and a new-found journey, they find gratitude and purpose. Many go onto help other people in recovery.

-Clare Kennedy, Director, Kennedy Street CIC

Impressively, 14 social enterprises emerged from Kennedy Street, led by people in recovery. Here on the blog, we recently covered Citrus Ornge. Through a connection with Kennedy Street, Jason Baker, founder and CEO of Citrus Ornge, was able to discover The Forward Enterprise Fund and gain funding for the development of his marketing business.

If you are a business in the Brighton area and would like to open up your recruitment to include those in the recovery and ex-offender communities, please do contact Kennedy Street directly on their website or through our directory.

Clare's future aspiration is to create a sober house to help through-the-gate individuals going through recovery as soon as they get released. Find out more here about how you can support their fundraising efforts.