Bromley by Bow CEO awarded British Empire Medal
Rob Trimble, Chief Executive of pioneering east London charity the Bromley by Bow Centre, has been awarded the prestigious British Empire Medal for services to the economy. Alongside an extensive range of grassroots community projects, the Bromley by Bow Centre houses one of the most dynamic social business incubation projects in the country.
An innovative approach to social enterprise and healthcare cements Bromley by Bow Centre’s reputation as a ground-breaking integrated health and community centre. Rob’s award celebrates the Centre’s innovative approach to social entrepreneurship that has created over 70 new businesses, hundreds of jobs, and has earned the organisation international recognition for its ground-breaking health and community services.
Rob has been involved with the Centre since 1989, when a small community of people from diverse backgrounds came together to work on a handful of exciting projects. Fascinated by their optimism and entrepreneurial spirit, Rob volunteered at the Centre, returning as Chief Executive in 2002 after a career in the private sector.
A great believer in what people can do when given the right tools, under Rob’s direction the Centre has grown a reputation for taking strong community projects and turning them into successful social businesses. A novel concept at the time, today social enterprises contribute £24 billion to the economy while creating positive social change. As a result of this pioneering approach, the Bromley by Bow Centre has become an exemplar model for a “communities in business” approach and has attracted a number of high-profile visitors including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, actor Michael Sheen and numerous senior business leaders.
“In the early 1980’s, a run-down church in a poor area of London opened a small cafe, right opposite the local school. They started listening to the single mums who would come in for a cup of tea after dropping their kids off – and things began to happen. It became the Bromley by Bow Centre. Over the years, it’s grown and developed and turned into the most innovative, forward-looking health and community centre I’ve ever seen. It delivers services in a totally holistic and revolutionary way because it has placed people and their lived experiences firmly at the centre of every single choice and decision they make.”
Michael Sheen, Actor
“Rob Trimble is first and foremost a social entrepreneur and has successfully led, diversified and expanded the Bromley by Bow Centre for 15 years. It is by far one of the best examples I have seen of a centre which sits at the heart of a deprived community with open doors and a holistic model which covers health, the arts, vocational training, enterprise and much more. ”
Paul Drechsler, President of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry)
Today, their award-winning “Beyond Business” incubation programme is regarded as one of the most dynamic and purposeful examples of harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of local people. Funded by Investec, each year successful applicants receive up to £20,000 in funding as well as training and support to help get great business ideas off the ground. The programme has resulted in the creation of over 70 new businesses with a combined turnover of £5 million and hundreds of jobs. With east London entrepreneurs at their helm, the new businesses respond to the needs of the community, directly impacting on some of the most pressing local issues. Operating in areas with high levels of deprivation, many of the new businesses have a focus on supporting disadvantaged young people and finding innovative ways to improve their life chances through creating education and employment opportunities that in turn have a positive, long-term impact on mental wellbeing.
“Our work is based on the idea that health is mainly driven by social factors, not by medicine. We think there are three big things that make for a healthy life – having a purpose, a decent home and strong human relationships. So we gear our model to delivering services that help make those things happen for people”.
Rob Trimble, Chief Executive, Bromley by Bow Centre
Examples of businesses that have been supported by “Beyond Business” include: Settle, which Rob chairs, a social enterprise that equips young people moving out of care with the skills they need to live independently, helping them to move into their first home; Cracked It which trains and employs at-risk young people to repair cracked smartphones as an enterprising route away from crime and Fat Macy’s which offers catering training for Londoners living in temporary hostel accommodation culminating in supper clubs for the public, the income from which funds deposits for flats for the trainees.
“I urge you to take your colleagues down to the Bromley by Bow Centre and let them see what has emerged from nothing. It is one of the most impressive displays of social entrepreneurship anywhere in Europe.”
Lord Brian Mawhinney, House of Lords