Place Category: Education & Training
The Museum of East Anglian Life (MEAL) is a 75 acre open air museum situated in the heart of Stowmarket, Suffolk. It is has been run as a charitable trust since 1984 and plays a major role in the community and in the economic life of Suffolk. It is run as a Social Enterprise, with the aim of creating a business with a triple bottom line financial, social and environmental.
MEAL is the principal tourist attraction in mid-Suffolk, acting as a venue for major events, with over 30,000 paying visitors. It houses a collection of historic buildings and over 40,000 artifacts. However, in addition to being a cultural centre and tourist attraction, the museum has a strong sense of social purpose with a well developed programme of education and volunteering. It benefits from over 30,000 volunteer hours pa, which further provides an active link with the local community. The volunteer programme is extended to socially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as learning disabled adults, offenders and the long term unemployed, providing valuable learning and rehabilitation opportunities.
MEAL runs an established Work Based Learning Programme and has recently introduced a suite of Leisure Learning courses.In addition, the Museum works closely with local schools, supporting the delivery of the national curriculum and providing work experience, as well as placements for students who have been excluded. The museum also runs, as a social enterprise, a retail operation specializing in the production and sale of hanging baskets, plants, fruit and vegetables and has a bustling on site Cafe.
Social Impact Declaration: Social-Impact-Declaration_Museum-of-East-Anglian-Life.pdf
Social Impact Statements:
Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders must submit Social Impact Statements that summarise their headline activities and achievements, helping show how they are striving to make a difference and stand up to scrutiny of purpose as a social enterprise.
Updated April 2017
1) Supporting people back into employment
We are committed to supporting long term unemployed get back into employment through our programme of adults skills training.
In 2016-17 we were contracted by New Anglia LEP to deliver our Work to Achieve programme. From our first two cohorts of 12 trainees we helped 9 people into employment. This followed on from our first successful Skills for the Future programme which saw over 40 trainees complete 3 month to 18 month traineeships, with over 70% gaining employment.
In 2017-18 we will be planning the next phase of Skills for the Future ready to begin in 2018. We were part of the only successful bid in the East of England, and it will see the Museum providing opportunities for hard-to-reach groups to undertake placements in marketing and visitor services, focusing on the income generation side of the museum’s work.
We will also be running a pilot project, ‘Better Lives’, which will see us deliver training opportunities in heritage skills for former offenders. Funded through Safer Suffolk, we will reach 24 people in four cohorts of six to give meaningful and focused training. The materials produced through this programme, e.g. blacksmith forge training, will be sold as part of the museum’s social enterprise work.
We help a diverse range of people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health issues through our programme of supported volunteering. In the last year, we have helped over 40 supported volunteers. In particular, a number of our volunteers work in our Walled Garden, which has been accepted into the National Gardens Scheme. This not only supports income generation by enhancing our visitor attraction, we also sell produce from the garden and recycle the profits back though the enterprise. Our 50th anniversary exhibition ‘Snapshot’ celebrates our volunteers and the ways in which they have given back to the community.
2) Protecting the environment
We manage our 75 acre site in way that supports the environment.
In particular, our wet meadows are managed under Higher Level Stewardship through Natural England, including grazing with rare breeds of cattle.
- The impact of the training programmes at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse and the Museum of East Anglian Life
- The Walled Garden - article/feature