July 14, 2016
Jobs created: 3.5FTE, 15 casual employees, 2 volunteer
Proportion of revenue that comes from trade: 100%
Stage of the enterprise: Fully sustainable
Geographical reach: Australia wide
ABOUT INSIDE THE BRICK
INSIDE the BRICK changing the lives of socially isolated kids
INSIDE the BRICK® offers a range of organised construction play activities for children across a range of ages and abilities from its studio in Fairfield, Victoria. Its founder, Rob Deakin, is a lifelong fan of LEGO® bricks, who ran play sessions for kids in his spare time. While the benefits of this sort of play for cognitive and social development are widely reported, Rob saw the life changing difference it made for children who have difficulty making friends and participating in more mainstream activities. INSIDE the BRICK’s purpose is to provide Australian children at risk of social isolation, particularly those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), with opportunities to play, socialise and develop friendships.
INSIDE the BRICK employs a manager, operations manager, expert builder, brick sorter and 15 casual staff. From their studio they offer themed children’s parties and casual and group play sessions which feature the use of the LEGO building system. The venue is also used to host and facilitate BRICK CLUB® where groups of builders (of the same age but varying abilities) meet weekly. This is the real vehicle for the social purpose and there is a strong emphasis on providing a club atmosphere for children with social issues to build confidence, connect with other children and create friendships.
The team also run large scale model exhibitions, workshops and events around Victoria that are an important part of marketing BRICK CLUB to a broader community.
These commercial operations generate 100% of revenue which is then used to provide a developed methodology and mentoring to groups who want to establish a club in their local communities around Australia.
Making a difference
From the studio INSIDE the BRICK runs seven club sessions per week, with 100 kids active across four levels.
Approximately 30% of club members have a formal ASD diagnosis but having kids from across the spectrum is an important part of the dynamic and helps them to develop social skills to use in other settings.
Local groups have established a further 5 clubs around Australia with almost 400 participants. At various stages of maturity they extend the benefits beyond families that can access the studio.
Networking through Social Traders
Rob Deakin completed Social Traders’ “The Crunch” program in 2012. The connections he made through the program have been important in building the small enterprise. “Social Traders acted as a hub for networking with mentors and other groups on the same journey. I realised how important it is to stay focussed and be resilient along the way!” said Rob. In the lead up to his pitch he learned a lot about how to approach potential funders. Through it he was introduced to Social Ventures Australia, who provided funding in the form of a $200K loan to establish the studio
Rob’s goal is to see more than 80 Brick Clubs, with 10,000 members, around Australia. This could take up to 10 years and he believes will require $3 million. “We want to make them a recognisable entity in the community. Imagine a Scouts or an Auskick – but for kids who find it difficult to be part of those sorts of groups. We believe EVERY Aussie kid deserves to have mates!”