Knowsley Trust celebrates 25 years

Knowsley Development Trust Celebrates 25 Years

A Kirkby-based business that ploughs all its profits back into the local community will celebrate 25 years of successful operations tonight.

Knowsley Development Trust will mark the occasion with an event at The Venue in Huyton to be attended by 200 guests, including its directors, staff, former employees, tenants and representatives of partner organisations.

The event will also celebrate the Development Trust’s success in winning the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development for a second time earlier in the year.

The Development Trust was created in 1990 by a group of local residents from Kirkby’s Tower Hill estate who had been involved in an innovative housing co-operative project in the area.

Spurred on by this success they turned their attention to economic development matters, developing plans for a managed workspace scheme - North Mersey Business Centre - on the site of a former local council depot.

A quarter of a century on, this once-derelict 7.5-acre site on the fringes of Knowsley Industrial Park is now a well established and thriving business hub, home to 110 companies employing more than 750 people.

It is estimated that since the business centre was established its tenant businesses have collectively created more than 6,000 jobs.

And as well as providing employment opportunities for local residents, the Development Trust has generated healthy surpluses from renting out business space at the site, which it uses to fund a range of regeneration and community projects in the area,

These projects include Your Travel Borough Wide, now one of the North West’s most successful community transport operators with a fleet of more than 40 vehicles.

These vehicles handle around 500,000 passenger journeys a year and help Your Travel to provide affordable transport to almost 600 member organisations, including many local voluntary, community and faith groups.

North Mersey Business Centre profits also helped the Development Trust to create Knowsley Enterprise Academy, the first purpose-built facility of its type in the UK.

The Enterprise Academy has provided business-related activities and projects for more than 7,000 young people, many of them in the most hard-to-reach groups such as those not in education, employment or training.

One of its most successful initiatives is Neet TV which teaches young people a wide range of filmmaking skills.
The project – which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary – had produced more than 50 educational, corporate and community interest films.

Meanwhile, Knowsley Development Trust continues to provide support to many other local organisations - from cycling clubs to pensioners’ groups - either by direct donations or making its facilities available free of charge.

And it continues to develop plans for new projects such as the Ormside Centre, an education centre for Knowsley children and young people based in a disused railway station in Cumbria, which it unveiled earlier in the year.

Guests at the celebration event will hear from a number of speakers including former Minister for Merseyside Michael Heseltine who has sent a video message.

The former Deputy Prime Minister established Merseyside Task Force which played a key role in helping the organisation to obtain the initial funding to establish North Mersey Business Centre.

Development Trust chief executive Steve Dumbell said: “This event will be a fantastic way to mark our quarter century, and to thank the many people who have contributed to the success of our social enterprise over the years.

“However, while it’s great to look back, our emphasis now has to to be on the future, and achieving even greater things in the coming years.

“Our key objective will continue to be to generate surpluses that enable us to provide services that benefit the community we serve in as wide a range of ways as possible.

“In the light of Government cuts in public spending, this work is just as important now as it was when we set out in 1990,” he added.
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