The St Georges Crypt incorporates human well-being factors as their core standard to improve business. May it be with their clients or external partners.
The crypt was founded in 1930 in the height of the great depression, it was the longest economic downturn the western world had ever seen. A vicar named Revd Percy Donald Robins saw the large amounts of suffering the city faced with homelessness when he came to the city for the first time.
People were sick, hungry and desperate for food and shelter. It was then he discovered the St Georges Crypt underneath the St Georges Church, and made the ultimate decision to do something about the space. So, with some help of volunteers, he swept away the years of dust and grime that piled up in isolation and welcomed people in. He gave individuals hot coco, bread and butter to eat.
From that day forward the St Georges Crypt began, and 90 years on, it still thrives as a well-known social enterprise charity in Leeds. In fact, only in the past 12 years the Crypt have seen itself as a social enterprise business. Their core values as a business are without a doubt their charitable work with homeless and vulnerable people. But they realise relationship building is key with clients and expenders to provide more opportunities to develop vital skills and get more financial support.
Martin Patterson, the project director at St Georges Crypt, said: “the difference between the crypt and a main stream business is we do not compromise on standards, our outlook is more to do with attitude.” They want to reach partners that will do good for the community, like developments with the property sector and research projects from Universities across Leeds.
Universities not only promote research projects, but are a great way to spread education and awareness of homelessness. Currently they are working in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and the NHS to develop a concept on how housing affects health. This sought of partnership is vital for the crypt for growing their client base and name.
As well as partnerships, funding is vital in any part of a social business. The St Georges crypt has got much of its core funding form Leeds City Council for many years now. Mr Patterson, explained: “it is great we work with the council as it makes us feel worthy of the work we are doing is having a positive impact.” They also recently secured extra funding from the council for the work they do in helping people with drinking problems, they have a separate hostel for this and has proved very beneficial for vulnerable people.
But despite the gains, there have been some recent losses for the Crypt. They sadly didn’t manage to secure a contract for one of their hostels which help people recover from drink and drugs from the council. This sought of problem is very common throughout social enterprise businesses, especially with competition raising.
In fact, other places like Holdforth court and Bracken court in Leeds who also help homeless people have been ordered to close by the council. The funding needed was ceased when both didn’t win in securing a contract.
There was a time however when the Crypt itself received nothing at all from the council, so they had to make do with fundraising events. Luckily since the past 12 years they have been receiving core funding through the council which they are a vital partner.
But if this wasn’t the case, Mr Patterson, clarified: “this could be problematic as fundraising events are even more competitive as the demand rises for the increases in social enterprise charities.”
Yet, there is one fundraising event that is held every year which proves to be the most financially popular for the crypt, this is called the crypt factor. It is held in partnership with individuals in the property and banking industries, with them being judges in a so called X Factor style show. The event is set to raise around £70,000 for two big charitable social enterprise organisations. One of them is the Crypt and they are estimated to haul in around £35,000 alone.
But when it comes to financial aid and doing business, Mr Patterson, says: “it is also ways good for the crypt to reinvent itself to meet current needs and priorities.” Maybe some years ago taking the social enterprise root wasn’t the right way to go for the Crypt but it’s very clear now that development and employment are the things that produce reliable results. They have learned from business trends over the years, how to improve the rights for their clients and partners.