Charity to turn itself into social enterprise

A charity is turning itself into social enterprise as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Big Society initiative.

Key Enterprises, set up in 1983, provides vocational training for people suffering mental health problems or learning difficulties at its base on the North Tyne Industrial Estate in North Shields.

One of its main operations is repairing and selling old bicycles supplied by the police.

Giles Johnston, of Killingworth’s Smartspeed Consulting, has joined forces with the charity to help it develop its commercial awareness.

He said: “It will be interesting and challenging to be able to harness that creativity and enterprise while bearing in mind that the service’s main focus is not profit but people’s health.”

Mike Halsey, chief executive of the charity, added: “This is a steep learning curve for us, and it’s great to have Giles on board to help us become more business-like.

“The result is a fascinating hybrid of charity and private enterprise.”