Social Enterprise Program – Parramatta
For most people, the best way to give back and do good things is by contributing to your local community. It gives you a sense of connectedness, and you know that you are doing something that will impact someone’s life. There is a theory that if people take care of their own back yards, the whole world will be alright in the end, and by contributing more often to our communities, we can make really significant change in a place that is close to our hearts – our homes.
The easiest way to give back to your local community and generally be a better human is through activities you would normally do that might have a layer of social contribution. Like buying a coffee and paying it forward for the next guy; by purchasing The Big Issue from someone who really needs that stream of income; or dropping your change that is weighing down your pockets into a collection tub. Small gestures that don’t drastically affect your own life and behaviors, but make a significant impact on someone else’s life.
The City of Parramatta has an amazing Social Enterprise Program that I only found out about recently and I thought if I didn’t know about it, chances are lots of other people don’t either. The Social Enterprise Program consists of a heap of different businesses in Parramatta that are all helping you just do your normal daily things, but do an amazing amount of good with that contribution. The City then provides these programs with funding, assistance in applying for spaces and grants and a heap of other resources to get people with social enterprise ideas off the ground as a business, and running well – so they continue to do their good work in the community.
Take the Darcy St Project (which is actually no longer on Darcy St as the developments in this part of town happen) as an example. They produce amazing coffee, which you can get your hands on every morning (which you would do anyway) and the profits from that coffee go into training for disadvantaged youth in our community. Did you know that in Parramatta there is a youth unemployment rate of 10-14% – higher than the average across Sydney? These kids are provided with barista training, free of charge, to give them a great opportunity to make some delicious coffee and eventually get a job working as a barista. This youth employment and opportunity slows the trickle effect of crime, welfare dependency and improves education levels and completion rates across our community. The Darcy St Project put everything that they make back into training and providing opportunities for new people, while building great relationships across the city and creating a more inclusive community.
They’re not the only ones doing great things. ICE (Information and Cultural Exchange) develops creative projects in the community, created by disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in Western Sydney, giving a voice and an outlet to people like Aboriginal families, refugees and asylum seekers, who might not have had the opportunity to tell their story otherwise. Addvantageous takes people on rides around Parramatta, teaching people how to ride a bike, cycle to work, get more exercise or explore the beautiful city we live in. Collaboratory provides a space for anyone with a social enterprise idea to collaborate and work, ensuring that there are more of these amazing businesses created each year.
So if you have ever wanted to make a really significant change in your community, and have a great idea, you aren’t alone. You have all the resources and tools available to make that idea work, and a support network of likeminded businesses trying to make change, just like you. And if you are more like me, and want to contribute in your own small way but don’t have the idea, all you have to do is patron any of these businesses (and those on the list below) to make a contribution to our community. We all have the opportunity to make a huge difference in this amazing community we are a part of, and it might just start with a cup of coffee.
Social Enterprise in Parramatta
The Corner Store
Address: 10 Lawson Street, Ermington, 2115
Phone: 9898 1955
This post is sponsored by the City of Parramatta and the ‘Our City Your Say’ program. All thoughts, opinions and stories are our own. For more information on sponsored content, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Words: Emma Wright
Photos: Katrina James