Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on so many organisations. But Helen Brewster helped one community interest company to continue and even grow its award-winning work during the pandemic.

Coventry-based Hope For The Community CIC runs courses to help people manage their health and wellbeing, so they can flourish in their working and personal lives. As the only full-time member of staff, Deputy Chief Executive Gabriela Matouskova felt overwhelmed when coronavirus hit.

Knowing Helen’s work for social enterprises at Coventry University, she asked her for some support.

Helen applied her skills as a coach and mentor to help Gabriela work out how to manage the massive task of dealing with the impact of Covid-19. Before the pandemic, 95% of Hope For The Community’s courses were delivered face-to-face.The company had to dip into cash reserves to develop online alternatives. Helen initiated conversations about ensuring long-term viability through a more commercial approach, without undermining Hope For The Communi-ty’s s important social values.

Helen’s involvement brought both individual and business benefits.

• A new pricing strategy to reflect the delivery costs involved.

• Greater personal resilience for Gabriela, with a clearer sense of priorities and better management of her workload which resulted in:

• A greater focus on proactively seeking paid work, in addition to applying for grants. This has led to new sourc-es of income and created a sales pipeline.

• A successful switch from face-to-face to online courses and a big growth in activity. In all of 2019, 114 people attended Hope For The Community courses. In April-July 2020 during the pandemic, more than 850 enrolled for the online equivalents – an increase of around 650%.

“During the pandemic, all my work became very reactive. I was feeling overwhelmed and isolated. Helen made me refocus, enabling me to recognise what I’ve achieved and giving me practical ways to manage the workload. I feel so much more in control.

Helen is a great sounding board. She brings great clarity, asks the right questions and has an approach rooted in reality. At the same time, you’re aware she’s very much on your side. Her support has made a real difference.

Gabriela Matouskova

Chief Executive Officer, Hope For The Community CIC