The company’s initial goal was to provide a free IT recycling service for businesses, schools, universities and local authorities, but in doing this it has helped to solve a growing environmental compliance issue and created jobs for the long-term unemployed.
Six years ago, Ucan Recycling was a one-man-band operating from a hot desk in Leeds, and since then has grown to a £1.2m turnover company with 7 permanent members of staff – all of whom were previously out of work. During that time, placements have also been offered to six apprentices and a total of 75 volunteers from the local community.
Director Rob Seal said: “We made a conscious decision to reach out to the unemployed and become a host for volunteers to gain work experience, learn new skills, develop their personal and professional confidence, and become more ‘job ready’. Some volunteers reluctantly come to us to simply ‘tick a box’ so that they can keep their benefits, but we can – and do – change their attitude to the world of work.
“Even if we can’t offer a permanent position at the end of the placement, we increase the chance of that individual going on to find paid employment. We even receive incoming enquiries from neighbouring businesses looking for help to fill their vacancies – we’ve almost become a free recruitment service.”
Ucan has recently achieved award recognition for its community impact to date. The team scooped the Job Creator of the Year accolade and the ultimate Winner of Winners award at the recent Bradford Means Business event.
Rob said: “We’re very proud of the business model we’ve created. The more IT we can collect for reuse and recycling, the more we’re supporting the UK’s resource agenda, the more we can reduce a compliance burden for businesses, and the more jobs we can create.
“The Yorkshire business environment isn’t without its challenges. But the hurdles we’ve overcome have kept us alert and encouraged us to push the business forward and help more people who have fallen on bad luck in some way.
“Ucan is proof that a defined social stance can reap multiple benefits for the organisation, the environment and the wider community. We’d love it if more people thought a little differently about the employment opportunities they offer.”
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