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Cardinal Vincent: SEIDs gives ‘refreshing vision’ on work

Cardinal Vincent has officially launched SEIDs (social, enterprise, idea, design), the latest initiative from Caritas Westminster which provides opportunity and dignified employment for those who cannot access them in conventional ways.

Speaking at the SEIDs hub in Wembley, the Cardinal said that the heart of business should always be about people, not wealth.

The Cardinal said how ‘thrilled’ he was to be at the launch of such an ambitious initiative, one that has the potential to change the way we think about work and employment. This building and wider strategy should be ‘part of the presence of the Catholic Church’.

He echoed the words of Pope Francis, saying that things can be seen most clearly when we look at them from the periphery, somewhere far from the centre; it gives us a ‘refreshing vision’.

Addressing the audience of supporters, donors, faith groups and community leaders Cardinal Vincent explained how often the relationship between business and society can become exploitative, and focused on wealth. The launch of SEIDs offers a different perspective, one from the periphery mentioned by Pope Francis, that reveals some truths about work: it should be decent and dignified, focused on people and in the service of the common good.

The leader of Brent Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt also gave a short speech, expressing his delight that SEIDs has been made a reality, and is ready to begin making a difference in the Borough of Brent.

Both Cardinal Vincent and Councillor Butt praised the collaboration of the local authority and the diocese and indicated a desire that this should become an example of communities working together for the benefit of all.

Also at the launch was Deputy Mayor of Brent, Councillor Ernest Ezeajughi, who, as well as backing the project in his civic role, has supported it as a parishioner of the local Catholic church.

SEIDs consists of two separate initiatives. The first is the hub in Wembley which offers facilities and support for individuals who wish to develop their own ideas into a social enterprise, a business which trades for a social purpose. The second is the creation of social enterprises run by SEIDs to employ and train people who are at a disadvantage in the traditional job market.

Decent and dignified work means a sustainable living wage in London, a supportive work environment, encouragement to make the most of work opportunities, and a clear career progression from apprentice through to manager.

Started in 2017, SEIDs Property Services is the first of these social enterprises, offering painting and decorating, plumbing, and general repair and maintenance services. This business was chosen in particular because it meets an existing need.

Caritas Westminster encourages major social transformation through making small changes. Customers choosing to use SEIDs property services instead of another company are making a small decision with a big effect, by supporting the move to dignified and decent work for those normally locked out of a sustainable employment opportunity. In time SEIDs will be setting up additional businesses in a variety of different trades.

The aim of the hubs, likewise, is not to make a profit but to encourage and grow social enterprise businesses in communities in London and Hertfordshire.

The hub building was completely refurbished to meet the needs of the new initiative. It is fully accessible, with co-working areas, private meeting rooms and training rooms. It has been designed not only to be functional, but to encourage creativity and co-working.

The service invites anyone with a credible social enterprise idea to get involved. The name SEIDs, in addition to being a useful acronym which describes what the initiative does (social enterprise, ideas, innovation, design, development), evokes the idea of organic growth.

The Catholic faith is rich in metaphors of growing. SEIDs is an environment created for growth and development, where people are invited to plant their own seeds. This environment is rooted in Catholic social teaching which is the foundation of the concept of the dignity of work.

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