A city social enterprise has been thanked for challenging the traditional business model by proving that a community-minded approach can deliver growth.
Westcombe Engineering based in Westcombe Square, Royce Road, Peterborough, has experienced a 60 per cent growth in the past three years - impressive for any business, but particularly one which was founded to help disabled men and women into work, rather than chasing profits.
Now it is being thanked for its contribution to the city and for challenging misconceptions around disabled workers by its staff and Peterborough City Council. The council is just one of its partners, along with the Greater Peterborough University Technology College, Peterborough Job Centre, Peterborough Regional College and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The social enterprise provides permanent employment and work experience for disabled people. All profits are reinvested back into the organisation and the local economy with the aim of the life chances of people living in Peterborough.
When it began in 1970 many felt this community-minded approach would fail, however, nearly 50 years later, the social enterprise has just announced an impressive 60 per cent growth, led by it's ability to diversify beyond its traditional diesel engine components market to win new contracts in other industry sectors, while staying loyal to its partnership with global giant, Perkins Engines.
On top of this, Westcombe Engineering has also won a regional business award for manufacturing and was included in the 2017 Parliamentary Review Publication, being cited as a best practice example in the manufacturing industry.
Andrew Lesiw, managing director at Westcombe Engineering, said: "Our vision has always been to prove disability doesn't have to be a barrier when it comes to employment. We also strive hard to prove that you can have honourable intentions in business AND deliver results.
"Our success directly affects our local community and we are proud of this. As we grow, we help the local economy by sourcing locally where we can and by supporting our city's residents.
"Diversification allows our organisation to smooth out typical marketplace peaks and troughs throughout the year, driving demand and sales. New products help to ensure continued development and continued development of our talented workforce."
Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: "Westcombe Engineering provides a valuable service to our community and has changed the lives of so many skilled and talented disabled people, their families and their communities. It's a credit to Peterborough and always has been ahead of its time. However, this latest success shows that now more than ever - organisations with a corporate social responsibility perform better in the modern world."
Darren, who works at Westcombe Engineering, said: "When I was about six or seven I caught chicken pox and a virus attacked my brain. I had to have half of my brain removed. This job gives my life purpose. I don't have to sign on and claim benefits, I have independence. Westcombe has shown me I've got a role to play and thanks to them I have somewhere to go to work."