1st September 2020
Hello, world! We have some big news.
We’ve reached the bold conclusion to close our doors on 1st January 2021.
This has been a super hard decision to make. We’re gutted that our unique business model of office-based repairs has been busted by coronavirus - and that our agile pivots haven’t done our mission nor balance sheet justice.
But it’s an exciting decision full of opportunity too. That’s because between now and January, we’ll be hard at work in the Cracked It Lab, devoting all of our resources to incubating several innovations to seed systemic change beyond our closure.
All of these initiatives are in pursuit of our mission to empower young people to live fulfilling lives via employment, whatever their histories. And we want to see these projects take on lives of their own beyond January.
If you’re interested in finding out more of the thinking behind this radical move, read on!
Over the last five years, we’ve been privileged to work with over 200 young people with convictions and youth at risk of offending on our programmes, with 7 in 10 Transitional Employment Programme graduates not re-offending within a year of completion.
We’ve recruited some of the largest organisations in the world to open up their doors to people with convictions wider than ever before; the US Embassy, Deutsche Bank, River Island – the list goes on.
We’ve done this at the same time as being recognised as one of ‘London’s best iPhone fixers’, having ‘disrupted the industry’, and being named the UK’s ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ for two years on the trot.
During the coronavirus lockdown, we’re so proud to have run a scheme refurbishing video phones and donating them to care homes so that vulnerable elderly people could keep connected with their families and medical professionals. And while not ultimately sustainable, our Deliveroo-style ‘Repair Rescue’ enabled people to access repairs while staying safely at home. Both contributed to us winning the 2020 Cambridge Social Innovation Prize.
Above all, we’re proud to have been proving that people with criminal convictions have a valuable role to play in the economy – and as hardworking citizens at the core of society.
As we emerge from a serious hit to our business and enter a ‘new normal’ that’s compromised our delicate margins, it’s clear to us that we must collaborate to build better, not scramble to build back. In our case, this means resisting the huge temptation to plug our new sustainability gaps with grant funding. Our aim must be to strive towards our mission, not to survive for survival’s sake.
Rich Tafel’s Stanford Social Innovation Review piece ‘Social Entrepreneurs Must Achieve Not Survive’ captures this conviction of ours perfectly – in particular, that ‘we need to keep our eyes on the mission and off the perpetuation of one entity.’
We’ve been inspired by trailblazers of this radical notion. These include entrepreneurs like Mike Sani (Bite the Ballot), Sarah Wilson (IQuitSugar.com) and Immy Kaur (Impact Hub Birmingham). All of these innovators have closed their successful organisations in response to changing markets and devoted their resources to pursuing their entity-transcending missions.
This kind of move isn’t right for every social enterprise – but it’s right for ours. That’s why we’re closing on 1st January 2021 and - until then - mobilising our showstopping team, high profile and powerful partnerships to kickstart even wider change for the young people we were set up to serve.
Enter the Cracked It Lab.
Right up to our closure on 1st January 2021, we’ll be incubating several innovations in the Cracked It Lab in pursuit of our resolute mission to support people to live fulfilling lives via employment. They reflect the systemic change we want to see in the post-COVID world.
We’ll be working to embed their operation in other entities or partnerships in the coming months so that they can take lives of their own beyond our closure.
Here’s what we’re working on:
Pop-ups Platform: a platform connecting social enterprises with workplace pop-up spaces, where this is mutually viable in the 'new normal'.
Transitional Employment Network: a practice-sharing alliance of transitional employment programmes.
Mentoring with Conviction: a mutual mentoring programme to break down barriers between HR professionals and people with convictions.
Knowledge Sharing: Sharing our model, learnings and secret sauce.