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Council contractor recognised by prime minister

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A social enterprise contracted to Swindon BC has been rewarded by David Cameron.

Local Enterprise and Vocational Employment Schemes was presented with a Big Society Award by the prime minister.

The organisation is commissioned by the West Country local authority to provide supported employment opportunities for people recovering from mental health problems.

It works with up to 30 people at any one time on projects such as collecting recyclables from hard-to-reach locations and relaying pathways in parks.

Mr Cameron said: “LEAVES provides an invaluable service supporting people who have battled mental health problems to take an important step into paid work.

“This Big Society Award recognises the achievements and commitment of everyone at LEAVES. I hope it continues to grow and reach even more people.”

The enterprise’s chairman Bob Astbury described his pride in the enterprise’s members.

“This is not just for their resilience in fighting one of the most debilitating and yet least understood illnesses found in modern society,” he said.

“We also engage in meaningful work that makes its own contribution to society – from our subsidised gardening service for the elderly and infirm through to local infrastructure improvements, assisting in increasing the volume of recyclable waste and other sustainable outcomes in Swindon.”

Mr Astbury added that he hoped the award would inspire other social enterprises around the country.

“We extend an open invitation to similar organisations to come and see how we go about our work as we are confident that we can also learn from their experiences,” he said.

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