Neath Port Talbot’s Thrive Women’s Aid social enterprise goes from 4 to 44 employees, thanks to a kick start from contractor Bouygues UK

When the team at Thrive Women’s Aid in Neath Port Talbot first partnered with major building contractor Bouygues UK in 2016 to supply cleaners to their school building sites in Port Talbot, they had no idea it would lead to the establishment of a Thrive Group Wales, a social enterprise which now turns over circa £400,000.

Bouygues UK puts social value at the heart of its projects and so when it built Ysgol Bro Brombil and Ysgol Bae Baglan in Margam in 2016 it worked with Thrive Women’s Aid to help women who had experienced domestic abuse get back into a working environment with child-friendly hours, by offering them housekeeping jobs on the building sites.

Thrive Women’s Aid aims to help women thrive and create safer communities free from domestic abuse and sexual violence. It also supports women to get their independence back by helping them return to work, if they have been forced to leave.

The offer of four jobs at these two schools started off a ripple effect at Thrive and quickly more and more jobs were being created, so much so that they decided to establish a social enterprise to manage make it more sustainable. The project was supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government, and they haven’t looked back since.

Lucy Reynolds, Director of Thrive Women’s Aid, explained: “Five years ago, thanks to Bouygues UK we took on four women and in 2016/17 that social enterprise turned over around £48,000 – now in 2021 we employ 44 women, run a play centre and a sandwich bar, and our latest draft turnover is looking at being around £400,000 – all of which gets invested back into the business to help more women and families in need.”

Bouygues UK is renewing its relationship with Thrive Women’s Aid again on two new sites in south and west Wales. Staff from Thrive will again be looking after the housekeeping at Bouygues UK’s welfare buildings on the Kingsway project in Swansea, and the Pentre Awel project in Llanelli.

Lucy added: “We are thrilled to be working with Bouygues UK again at these local sites. We are now a sizeable employer in the area and that is all down to that initial investment and faith from Bouygues UK. They planted the seed that led to where we are today, and we will always be very grateful.”

Donna Griffiths, Business Development Manager at Bouygues UK in Wales, said: “When I heard about the success story of Thrive WA I was overwhelmed and so proud. Social value is pivotal to everything we do at Bouygues UK, but when you leave a project you don’t often get to hear about how it’s progressed afterwards – this is beyond all my expectations.

“The fact that Thrive Group Wales has gone on to employ 44 people and make a real difference to its community is testament to the fact that business can and does give back and it only takes one small gesture, like offering someone a job, can make such a massive difference.

“We look forward to welcoming the new Thrive Group Wales staff to our sites at Kingsway and Pentre Awel and we will continue to support them and Thrive in the area for many years to come.”