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Graduate honoured by The Duke of York for social enterprise

Posted on 15 August 2019

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A Leeds Trinity graduate whose social enterprise company provides employment for people with learning disabilities and autism, has been honoured by HRH The Duke of York.

24-year-old Jake Goodwin, who established Building Futures as a Community Interest Company last year, was honoured by Prince Andrew at The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Awards 2019. The awards are organised and presented annually at the University of Huddersfield, to students or graduates who have created a business or social enterprise which demonstrates commercial or social impact.

Jake was presented with the award in recognition of his company which aims to provide those with learning disabilities and autism a sustainable route into employment and offer the opportunity to gain recognised vocational qualifications. This is achieved through opportunities to work alongside qualified and experienced tradesmen on building, landscape and maintenance projects within Bradford and Leeds.

"In the last 12 months we've landscaped gardens, regenerated sports clubs, fitted bathrooms and decorated houses," said Jake. "It's all about learning from the experts, assisting labourers with painting, carpeting and gardening, and at the same time developing new skills.

"For some people, this is the first time they've ever had the opportunity to work."

Jake's passion for supporting individuals with learning disabilities started 10 years ago, when he and his Dad became involved with Bumble Bees; England's first mixed ability contact Rugby Union team based at Bradford and Bingley Rugby Club. Last year, as a player, Committee Member and Safeguarding Manager, Jake wanted to support his teammates in finding long-term employment through developing new skills. He established Building Futures with teammate and Director of Rugby, Dan Cookson, and local architect Andrew Stoddard as a non-Executive Director.

Last summer, the organisation completed their first project; re-building the changing rooms at Baildon Rugby Club. Four people were involved in the build which involved painting and installing new benches, and it took three weeks to complete. At the end of the project, they secured further funding to refit the bathrooms.

Now, Building Futures offers opportunities to 12 individuals on projects around Bradford and Leeds. Most are in the building industry, three are working with sports clubs and one is office-based, developing administration and social media skills in one of the company's three offices in the region.

On receiving the award from HRH The Duke of York, Jake said: "It's fantastic to be presented with this award and it was great to meet students from other universities who are also starting and developing their own businesses. The Duke of York was lovely, and it was a real honour to have met, and to have received this award, from him."

Professor Margaret A House OBE, Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said: "Everyone at Leeds Trinity is proud of Jake's achievements and I would like to congratulate him on receiving this award from The Duke of York. Launching your own business whilst studying at university is not easy, but we are committed to supporting the ambitions of our students and I am delighted we have been able to support Jake. Jake has worked extremely hard over the last year and I'm looking forward to following his progress as his business continues to grow."

Jake launched Building Futures in summer 2018 before starting his final year of his Education degree. Last month, just before graduating, he was awarded £500 funding from the University's Inspiring Futures Programme Enterprise Fund. He's also taken on a full-time job as Delivery Programme Manager for National Citizens Service which he'll continue over the summer before returning to Leeds Trinity University in September to study a Master's in Business Administration (MBA).

He will use the funding from Inspiring Futures to purchase training equipment for individuals to learn cement mixing and bricklaying, and to purchase different woods to teach skilled woodwork.

Phillip Williams, Business Start-Up Advisor at Leeds Trinity University, said: "I've worked with Jake over the last year and seen his business go from strength-to-strength. What started as an idea to help others has grown into a business and Jake should be very proud of everything he's achieved."

Over the next few years, Jake hopes to grow the number of service users finding long-term employment as a result of the skills developed through Building Futures. He wants to expand his team and employ more disabled workers.

Jake added: "Within two or three years I want Building Futures to be at the forefront of disability employment in Yorkshire."

Find out more about the University's Inspiring Futures Enterprise Fund and how it can support your business at www.leedstrinity.ac.uk/ifp