Dismay at end of support venture

Staff from the Sheffield Community Enterprise Development Unit on Mowbray Street which is to close down on Feb 29th 2012
Staff from the Sheffield Community Enterprise Development Unit on Mowbray Street which is to close down on Feb 29th 2012
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A VENTURE which has supported social enterprises - from circus training to road safety campaigns – in Sheffield for 17 years has closed.

Sheffield Community Enterprise Development Unit (SCEDU), based on Mowbray Street, the city centre, was one of the leaders in its field outside London.

However it has become a victim of the tough economic climate.

Sarah Newton, chief executive officer, said: “The contracts have just dried up.

“It’s just come to the point where we’ve been working off reserves for the last two months and it has run out, there is no money left.”

In 1995 the unit was set up to support existing social enterprises and help to establish new enterprises.

Over the years these have included everything from nurseries to cyclist training.

Staff have been inundated with comments from former clients who were ‘shocked’ and ‘sorry’ to hear about its closure.

Staff went in for the last time yesterday before 11 workers were made redundant.

However, the service is celebrating its ‘considerable achievements’, saying there is not a social enterprise in Sheffield untouched by the unit.

Sarah said: “This is a sad time for all concerned.

“I would like to thank the staff for their considerable and ongoing efforts and all our partners and customers for their support and encouragement.”

There is hope that a new social enterprise entity will be set up in Sheffield as a number of parties are interested.

Sarah said: “It is early days yet, but we’re hopeful a positive and sustainable alternative will emerge from this process.”

Workers are also volunteering to keep the unit site ‘ticking over’ until at least the end of March.