Flintshire charity really does believe in miracles

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

HOMELESS families are turning into entrepreneurs to support a charity through these turbulent economic times.

Jobless parents will be part of the Miracle Company, an ambitious new social enterprise initiative from Flintshire charity Save the Family.

While dads try their hand at furniture making, French polishing and woodwork, mums will be busy cooking home-made preserves, which will then be sold in the charity’s shops.

The charity’s first shop was launched in Daniel Owen Square in Mold last week.

Actresses Sara Crowe, who appeared in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Becci Gemmell, star of BBC TV’s Land Girls, performed the opening ceremony.

Set up 34 years ago, Save the Family is based at Plas Bellin Hall, Northop, and works to prevent children being taken into care, as a result of their parents becoming homeless.

As the effects of the financial crisis continue to be felt, the charity is expecting more people than ever to find themselves without a home.

Founder Edna Speed said: “Our job is to prevent that from happening.

“In the vast majority of cases it is better for the children to stay with their parents as a family unit. It is also less costly to the country if we can keep families together.”

The charity has built a new Together Village to provide temporary homes for families.

The multi-million pound centre, near Chester, is due to be completed at the end of summer 2011.

But with a volatile economy, fears over public sector cuts and rising unemployment, Save the Family has decided not to rely solely on charitable donations.

Mrs Speed said: “The new centre at Cotton Hall Farm and maintaining Plas Bellin will double the charity’s running costs so we have to look at ways of generating extra money.

“Every penny we receive goes back into front-line services to help homeless and broken families.”

The Miracle Company is the idea of Pat Haycock, from Broughton, who joined Save the Family a year ago as head of its resources and enterprise operation.

Mr Haycock said: “I have a two-year goal to have five high quality retail shops, operating in high street locations, selling products made in our Enterprise Centre, contributing £150,000 of profit each year to be used to support the work of Save the Family.

“More importantly, the Miracle Company will provide a unique platform to help those parents in our care.

“We often have dads and mums whose confidence, self worth and belief, is shattered.

“Now we can restore those values and create training and development opportunities that will also help them find paid-for work in the future.”

A team of skilled workers and volunteers will train parents while they are with the Miracle Company.

Mr Haycock added: “We have cabinet makers and French polishers who will pass on their skills. As a former trained chef I can vouch for the quality of the jams and chutney. I’d be confident of taking them into the Dragons’ Den and having a taste test – they are that good.”

Stephen Mawdsley, 52, from Connah’s Quay, is one of Miracle Company’s volunteers.

He said: “I volunteered because of the support my partner received from Save the Family.

“She came here when her first marriage broke down and she also fell ill. We were married earlier this year and I felt I should repay the kindness she was shown.”

The Mold shop stocks 30 lines of furniture, plus the preserves and prices are about 70 per cent cheaper than buying new.

Mr Haycock added: “Our first priority is our families. We don’t set ourselves production targets just yet because our goal is to get as many mums and dads engaged in the work of the Miracle Company.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to work with people who are in difficult circumstances, build up their confidence and self-esteem and as a result give them hope and new opportunities and even extra qualifications.

“If we also make useful profits and a decent contribution for the charity that will be an added bonus. Who knows where the miracle could take us?”

See full story in the Leader

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