Independent Newham Users Forum (INUF)

Mind, the national mental health charity, set up a branch in Stratford, East London in the Borough of Newham. They provided support and capacity building for various self -help mental health groups and individuals within the area. Around 2000 they decided to pull out of the area. Mind approached one of the user led groups, Independent Newham Users (INUF) charity board to take over their property. After some thoughtful and protracted consultation with their members; INUF agreed to their proposal which included purchasing the Grade Two listed property from Mind for a pound.
Through their volunteer support and funding they were able to turn around the derelict property for the benefit of the community and to fulfil their objectives of well -being, advocacy, training and involvement of their service users (people who had been affected by mental health). Today the building serves as a community hub rented by various organisations and generating earned income for INUF to fulfil its social objectives of mental health support for their clients and members.
This social enterprise vehicle known as Ithaca House has provided a platform for service users to gain valuable skills through volunteering, work experience and developing their social skills to reconnect back into society. It has also been a place for personal development for the service users who play a key role in managing the centre. They work in various positions such as in reception, cleaning, gardening and various self-help activities.
Due to the current economic downturn in the United Kingdom and cuts to funding, INUF lost most of its core funding. However, the income generated from its social entrepreneurial activity (renting office space and venue hire) has sustained the organisation.
One can safely state that if it had not been for INUF's management proactively initiating the bold entrepreneurial step of taking over this derelict building, the story may have been different as all the beneficiaries and community groups that access the centre would have lost a vital community asset.