Braunstone is an edge-of-town council estate in Leicester with 16,500 inhabitants. Some parts of the area fall within the bottom 1% of the 2019 indices of deprivation. Almost entirely residential, for years Braunstone has had no key employers and no local job opportunities.
The estate was created in the 1930s to house people from slum areas of the city centre – and almost a century later, many people still experience poverty and suffer poor health, social isolation and lower life expectancy as a result.
B-inspired is working to tackle these inequalities. It’s a charity and trading company that invests money back into the community to counter the entrenched socio economic issues that local people face.
As well as offering low-cost and no-cost sports activities and sports leadership training, B-inspired provides crucial neighbourhood support via a number of services. These include a food bank; befriending schemes, social groups; an open door advice centre and food growing schemes.
“Vegetable growing has several benefits,” says B-inspired Chief Officer Angie Wright. “The produce can be used in the food bank, and the volunteers growing it find it has a positive effect on their mental and physical health. It also attracts people with addiction issues – they find it a meaningful activity that gets them out of the house and makes them feel they are achieving something.”
“We’ve focused on activities that combat loneliness and isolation because it can take years off people’s lives. We’re supporting local people to relieve isolation within this community – and it has turned people’s lives around.”
Supporting community businesses is another crucial way B-inspired is tackling inequality. “We’ve helped form a new football club that will become community owned, as well as the opening of a community shop that uses its profits to take social action like awarding hardship grants and arranging community events,” Angie explains.
B-inspired is also behind an important major local project that has turned a former local youth centre into a vital community hub – The Grove. Opening this week, The Grove is home to several community businesses including a dance and fitness studio, community café and social bar.
“The Grove not only meets the needs of local people, it’s also creating jobs and volunteering opportunities. It has a training room, so there will be lots of training on offer, most of which will be free. There’s a lot of excitement about the opportunities it presents for our residents.
“Run by local people, for local people, the community businesses based at The Grove – and elsewhere in Braunstone – are playing an important part in improving the local economy and keeping the wealth we generate within the area", says Angie Wright, B-Inspired Chief Officer
B-Inspired in Leicester is one of the catalyst organisations for the Empowering Places programme, that aims to demonstrate the role that concentrated clusters of community businesses can play in creating better places and reducing inequality in local areas. Funded by Power to Change, the programme is delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with CLES and NEF.
The Empowering Places programme is part of our Community Economic Development (CED) work, which supports organisations and networks in local wealth building, co-op development and engaging communities in economic development.