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Gloucestershire Business News

SoFab Sports able to expand operations thanks to £100,000 investment

A £100,000 investment will help Gloucestershire-based community interest enterprise SoFab Sports expand and help more young adults with physical and learning disabilities.

The investment comes from Resonance, a social impact investment fund that aims to dismantle poverty by investing in community groups in the South West.

SoFab Sports started as family-run football training sessions and has quickly expanded into a widely-recognised Gloucestershire social enterprise.

Their work boosts the skills confidence and self-esteem of young adults with physical and learning disabilities. So far, an estimated 400 young people have been helped by SoFab Sports.

Often playing sport for the first time, these sessions give young, disadvantaged people the chance to be part of a team.

The flexible and open-minded approach to the sessions is extremely effective, making them accessible to everyone.

But SoFab's work goes beyond the pitch in the form of its sportswear shop in Gloucester and its online eBay marketplace store.

Its retail outlets sell high quality, end-of-line sportswear for brands including Under Armour, Nike and Adidas.

Products are sold at heavily reduced prices and all profits are invested back into the business, which enables SoFab to achieve its social mission of inclusive sport and employment for all.

So far 32 first time jobs have been created, 20 of which have been taken up by individuals with physical or learning disabilities.

Additionally, 17 young people have moved successfully into mainstream employment.

Shop manager Scotty Johnson, who was born with severe cerebral palsy, has grown in confidence and has since moved out from care into fully independent living.

He is now a key peer role model for a 16-year-old volunteer. "People stare at me in the street because of the way I walk," Mr Johnson said,

"But Dale Rawlins (Operations Director) sees me as an ordinary person, and I don't get judged here, which is nice."

Enhancing the community's attitude towards social inclusion is also a big part of the mission.

Providing a unique and rewarding customer experience, the sports warehouse in Gloucester is the main focus of Resonance's investment.

This will help expand the online sportswear retailer through the creation of more job opportunities, as well as purchasing more stock and warehouse essentials.

SoFab Co-Founder and CEO Chris Rawlins said: "This investment will take our already sustainable business to a new level with an increased turnover within the top 10 per cent of social enterprises nationally.

More importantly, the profit generated will create jobs for those furthest from employment and having a deep and lasting impact for generations to come."

Katalin Juhasz, Investment Manager at Resonance explained: "This is the first investment from the wider South West region following the recent extension of the Fund.

The £100,000 investment will enable SoFab Sports' online retail outlet to remain key to its strategy and enable it to provide more sustainable and inclusive employment opportunities for young, local adults with physical and learning disabilities.

The investment will also offer SoFab opportunities to increase and diversify their sportswear and sports equipment lines."

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