How I beat the recession: Team Activ

Darren Padgett - Team Activ

Darren helped schools run sports events for seven years before government cuts devastated budgets, leaving him and six colleagues redundant.

Rather than letting a sad story end there, he realised the potential in the good work the team were doing. Before the cuts, they had reached higher numbers and generated better feedback at a lower cost than every target they had been set.

Out of the ashes of a public sector system, Team Activ was born as a social enterprise. It secured funding from schools thanks to the team's track record of achieving success, but money also came from local businesses who believed Team Activ held huge branding potential.

Every member of Darren's old team were employed through Team Activ and the project was improved and expanded by offering new sports and reaching out to corporate events as well as kid's sessions.

The business has been expanding ever since, now employing 16 people, providing access to an increasing list of sports and winning Chamber of Commerce and Telegraph social entrepreneur awards along the way.

"If someone wants to try a sport we aren't experts in, we get someone on a course for it," Darren said. "It's about making sure we are experts at providing sport for all."

Doing what the public sector can't

Team Activ are a perfect example of what a social enterprise can achieve when a country comes across austerity. First year turnover reached around £200,000, and that's increased in its second year.

The business employed hard workers who lost their jobs and now does much more than the school sports partnership ever could. That's thanks to the freedom Darren has as the founder of the company. He's now able to employ the best staff and outsource aspects of the business he's not an expert in, such as marketing.

Darren is always looking to expand Team Activ and is exploring a new social media business running alongside the current team.

"The idea had been in my head for seven years," he said. "But it would have been impossible in the confines of a national strategy. Now, I've been able to think of something which can grow from the success of Team Active."

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