The work of The Skill Mill is intimately connected with the UN Sustainability Development Goals.
The focused work supports young men and women out of the criminal justice system, through paid employment, undertaking meaningful physical work and improving the natural environment.
This aligns with the goals noted:
Goal 1 - End Poverty:
The Skill Mill works exclusively with young people who are disadvantaged in many ways. They are identified foremost by their behaviours which have brought them into the criminal justice system. These behaviours are overwhelmingly symptomatic of poverty. At The Skill Mill all the beneficiaries complete a poverty stoplight questionnaire which has been co-designed by Skill Mill and Poverty Stoplight Foundation in order that they can self-assess poverty indicators and develop an action plan to address the barriers. Furthermore the paid job, skill development and qualifications contribute significantly to lifting the young people out of poverty with ripple effects into their families and communities.
Goal 3 – Good Health:
Employment on the scheme provides a structured environment where the combination of drug and alcohol are not acceptable. As such the ongoing work provides an opportunity for reduced drug and alcohol intake leading to direct benefits for the individuals concerned with positive follow on impacts to their communities. The Skill Mill offers employment which is primarily outdoors and physically challenging. The combination of physical work in nature has demonstrable physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits.
Goal 4 – Quality Education:
Many of the individuals employed by The Skill Mill have not engaged with the education system. As such The Skill Mill provides a structured environment where basic qualifications are secured and with their experience provide a sound basis for ongoing employment.
Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation:
The Skill Mill actively improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping. Skill Mill works within the Water Framework Directive and is a partner in the Catchment Area for Tyne and Wear.
Goal 8 – Good jobs and Economic Growth:
The practice of regular routine work helps increase economic productivity and connects job creation with environmental improvement. As a social enterprise The Skill Mill is a highly innovative organisation which is using economic activity to deliver material benefits to society at large and the individuals who it serves. This has been recognised at Government level as a model to be adopted elsewhere. It reduces the number of youth not in employment or education.
Goal 9 - Innovation:
Through co-design and design thinking techniques between Skill Mill and its partners there has been progress in developing innovative approaches to solving the problem of youth crime. The approaches have been recognised in the UK with a number of innovation competitions recognising the practice including The Environment Agency and the Youth Justice Board (England and Wales). Skill Mill is a lead partner for the COST Association Action Multi-Disciplinary Innovation for Social Change.
Goal 10 – Reduce Inequality:
The Skill Mill empowers and promotes the social, economic and political inclusion of young people, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status with the excluded young offenders providing the individuals with means and confidence to positively engage with the society around them and engage with the wider labour market.
Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities:
The Skill Mill works with young people living in communities where economic decline and deprivation has been severe. The model has been recognised by Eurocitiesas an example of effective practice in Newcastle upon Tyne where the model began and now operating in many other cities in England. The work itself benefits communities by delivering services which improve the local environment, increase civic pride and care for public spaces and community assets.
Goal 12 – Sustainable Consumption and Production:
The Skill Mill has an environmental management policy which has a goal for zero waste. All green waste is disposed of safely in municipal amenities sites unless it can be reused in the form of dead hedges etc. The Skill Mill is now supplying face masks which use only 100% natural materials, and there is no waste in the production process. The Skill Mill has a paperless policy and meets this 90% of the time. All unavoidable paper use is with recycled materials. Skill Mill organises a separate project 'Edible' designed to reduce food waste and has piloted this activity with a supermarket chain.
Goal 13 – Climate Action:
The Skill Mill is first and foremost an environmental services organisation. It provides services which care for the maintenance of local urban green spaces and also rural land maintenance. Work is undertaken to reduce flood risk arising from increased risk through climate change. The Skill Mill organises the annual World Cleanup Day which is a global event mobilising citizens, community groups, corporations and government bodies to participate in a day of action to highlight the issue of waste and especially single use plastic. During 2019 over 200 events were organised across the UK and included over 20,000 people.
Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals:
One of the defining features of The Skill Mill is the scope and scale of the partnerships that have been developed in each location. The Skill Mill has received recognition for the unique triple-helix approach to solving multiple social and environmental impact. In 2019 The Skill Mill received the Children and Young People Now Partnership Working Award. The academic community, civil society organisations, corporations and citizens are all working together through The Skill Mill to support the development and co-design solutions to the social and environmental challenges.