Enable Leisure and Culture, the start of a great adventure
When Paul McCue, an assistant director responsible for Wandsworth Council’s leisure and culture services, asked his staff whether they wanted to be part of a new staff mutual, he never expected such a resounding ‘yes’. Yet over 92% of those who responded voted to join him and senior managers on a “great adventure” that began on 1 October 2015 with the official launch in Battersea Park of Enable Leisure and Culture.
“We created Enable Leisure and Culture to help Wandsworth Council in developing new and innovative ways of delivering efficiencies and savings. The services we provide are important and highly-valued by Wandsworth’s residents, but they have to compete for funds against the obligation to provide statutory services like social services, education and housing. An initiative like Enable allows the Council to continue delivering all these services while meeting the financial challenges faced by local authorities” Paul McCue told guests at the launch.
Staff mutuals in the public sector are not new, with over 100 mutuals across England running everything from children’s services to libraries. Enable is a company limited by guarantee, applying for charitable status and is part of Wandsworth Council’s commitment to deliver first class leisure and culture services and facilities. As a Public Service Mutual (PSM) it is a form of social enterprise that will run arts, bereavement services, parks, sports facilities, events, the film office, public halls and Putney School of Art and Design in Wandsworth.
Local resident Clare Frankl-Bertram who will chair the new organisation said that the job of the trustees would be to safeguard the charitable objectives of Enable. “Our presence ensures a level of security about the service continuing as usual. As trustees our job is to assist the Enable management team and staff and be the arbiters of Enable’s charitable status.”
“We will be working with stakeholders including community groups, the Council, existing contractors – all the people currently involved in delivering culture and leisure services in partnership because public funding will not support all of the things the community and the council aspire to do. My hope is that the board will be very active, practical supporters and contributors to the development of Enable’s services for local people in Wandsworth.”