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 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.
1) Supporting people back into employment
We are committed to supporting the long term unemployed get back into employment through our programme of adults skills training.
In 2015, we have been contracted by New Anglia LEP to deliver our Work to Achieve programme. Through this we aim to train 36 people, of whom we hope to help 18 back into employment. From our first two cohorts of 12 trainees we have helped 9 people into employment.
This follows on from our successful Skills for the Future programme which saw over 40 trainees complete 3 month to 18 month traineeships, with over 70% gaining employment.
2) Providing volunteering opportunities for people with disabilities
We help a diverse range of people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health issues through our programme of supported volunteering.
In 2014/15, we helped over 40 supported volunteers. In particular, a number of our volunteers work in our Walled Garden, which this year 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.
3) Supporting the environment
We manage our 75 acre site in way the 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