The Cookie Bar.
The social enterprise investing profits locally into schools and community projects.
On the 21st October, 2011, over 100 people attended the official opening of the Stepping Stones Cookie Bar, a COINS social enterprise. The enterprise is run for profit, with the profits going back to the schools and community projects supported by the COINS Foundation www.coinsfoundation.org (established to raise and distribute funds from the construction industry). In the case of this Hindhead enterprise, 50% of the profits go back to Stepping Stones School www.steppingstones.org.uk, a local school for students with mild disabilities also based in Hindhead, Surrey.
The social enterprise offers the school the opportunity of greater financial independence. Under Neil Clark, the head who came following 17 years as head at Treloars School, a specialist school for disability, the school has already come a very long way in terms of financial independence. Neil has largely been responsible for the successful building of student numbers at Stepping Stones – to the uplifting and thriving environment it is today.
The Cookie Bar social enterprise provides opportunities for the students from the school to experience hands on, all aspects of running a business during their school curriculum and post their time at Stepping Stones for example in Saturday jobs or indeed long term, as initial steps into employment. This initiative helps the students in their journeys to become social and economic contributors.
Online Cookie Bar ordering is a significant aspect of ensuring the financial success of the enterprise and further enhances this opportunity for the students. The web does not recognise physical disability, only intellectual capability. There will be other initiatives within the Cookie Bar environment such as iPads and Apples available for use and teaching e.g. ebay for grandparents, art exhibitions where a percentage of sales will go back to the school/projects and there will be studios in the garden for other craft type activities.
To help the “business” succeed we will aim to leverage our business contracts and use the web and social networking to tap into the extended networks of others.
With profits also going back to the COINS Foundation community projects, in the process we hope the student will also gain awareness and learn to care about others less fortunate than themselves.
Thank you to Lord Joel Joffe, Nelson Mandela’s defence lawyer who is a patron of the COINS Foundation for attending the opening and helping us with the cutting of the ribbon. Also to the extensive team who have worked hard to develop the concept and to bring this first Cookie Bar into operation.
We believe we can replicate this concept and build a network of Cookie Bars across the UK. The next one could be located in Chiswick, we are in intial conversations with Chiswick School.
Please visit our Cookie Bar, rather than the alternative corporate local coffee/cookie facilities so that your profits go back into the community and please pass on our details to your extended networks to help us build the corporate orders that will support the venture.
The above article first published on coinsfoundation.org.