Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith, visited Goodwill Solutions CIC, a social enterprise partner of the University of Northampton, on 15 January 2015.
Mr Duncan Smith was welcomed by Conservative MP for Northampton North Michael Ellis at Goodwill Solutions, as well as representatives from the University of Northampton and Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership.
The Minister learned about how the University of Northampton and Goodwill are working together to deliver maximum social impact in the community, and why the University puts social innovation, social impact and social value at its core. He also spent several minutes talking with a group of students from the University who were visiting Goodwill.
Mr Duncan Smith, Michael Ellis MP, Jo Lappin (CEO of Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership), and representatives from the Probation Service and Job Centre Plus, were given a tour of the Goodwill Solutions facilities by Managing Director Mike Britton. The Minister was told how Goodwill and the University are working together to support large numbers of ex-offenders, ex-military with post-traumatic stress disorder, long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged individuals to go through work experience or vocational training programmes through their ‘Back to Work’ scheme, in order to improve their ability to gain meaningful, paid employment and re-enter the workforce with confidence. He was delighted to find that in 2014, the Goodwill Back to Work programme had enabled 68 long-term unemployed with multiple disadvantages to get full time jobs.
Professor Simon Denny, Director of Research, Impact and Enterprise, commented: “I was delighted that the Secretary of State made a point of talking with our students. He was genuinely interested in their comments on the value of social enterprises such as Goodwill and was able to learn, from the best ambassadors the University has, how important delivering social impact is to the University.”
Speaking about his visit, the Minister said: “I was incredibly impressed by Goodwill Solutions and thank Michael Ellis MP for arranging the visit. They are one of the best social enterprises I’ve ever visited and it was very interesting to learn about the vital work going on to help people get back into work and re-enter mainstream society.
“The team I met all do an excellent job and I cannot praise them enough including the role of the University of Northampton as a social enterprise partner.
“I will take back what I saw to Westminster and tell Cabinet colleagues about the superb efforts taking place at Moulton Park including the support offered by the university.”
Pictured: Iain Duncan Smith meets with University of Northampton
For more information regarding Goodwill Solutions, visit their website.