The Resurgam Trust has been crowned Social Economy Business of the Year at the recent Enterprise Northern Ireland Awards.
As well as scooping the prestigious award, Resurgam has also been recognised by the Stormont Assembly for its work in deprived areas and the Trust has been adopted by the Department for Social Development as a model of best practice.
The Resurgam Community Development Trust is based in Lisburn’s Old Warren Estate which has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years experiencing a rapid rise in jobs, social housing and educational prospects.
“Resurgam is Latin for ‘I shall rise again’ and the community trust is ensuring Lisburn is on the rise by creating new sustainable businesses, providing employment and improving the health and welfare of the population,” explained Jason Abraham, Social Enterprise Manager of the Resurgam Trust.
“A DSD report found that the organisation, which employs more than 100 people, is putting £1.7m into the Lisburn area annually.
“The Trust had the vision to take out a loan to build nine houses on land in the area before property prices dropped in 2007.
“It sold off six of the nine houses and used the fund to invest in its other new businesses.
“They have recently been granted planning permission to build five new one-bedroom apartments and a shop unit on Bridge Street in the centre of Lisburn.
“These buildings have lain derelict for years and we will bring some new life into the centre of the city now.”
It has been so successful in improving the lives of hundreds of people in Lisburn that the Department of Social Development plans to roll the model out to other communities in Northern Ireland.
Such is the DSD’s belief in Resurgam’s innovative work practices, it recently invested £438,000 in a pilot social economy growth project within the Trust to launch three new social enterprises with the potential of creating ten new jobs.
DSD Minister Mervyn Storey attended Resurgam’s Annual General Meeting, telling them that the social enterprise model they have developed is one that can replicated in other areas.
He told directors: “Such developments do not happen by accident but require strategic thinking, a visionary approach and committed leadership. The Trust is blessed to have all of these qualities in abundance and I know that you will continue to take this important work forward for the benefits of the people that you serve.”
Adrian Bird, Trust Director of the Resurgam Trust, said: “We feel our holistic approach is unique. We work with everyone in this community – from the tiniest baby to senior citizens and everyone in between. We see the importance of community development, regeneration and employment and the difference that it is making to the Old Warren.
“We can see that grants are drying up and we need to make ourselves self-sustaining. We aren’t there yet though all the businesses break even or better and also provide employment and training to local people.
“The big picture is that no one in this sector can rely on grants and it’s our vision to move out of this grant culture.”