Building Lives is Our Business

Denise Roberts speaks to Patrick and Claudine Reid, celebrating 20 years in business together


In Thornton Heath, Croydon, there is a building that represents hundreds of lives transformed through social enterprise. Like those lives, it once stood as only a shadow of great potential – derelict, silent and purposeless.


But in 2001 this changed. Under the visionary leadership of husband-and-wife team, Patrick and Claudine Reid MBE, the building was bought, renovated and named Parchmore Place. It became home to PJ’s Community Services, the couple’s highly successful business, launched in 1992 with a Princes Trust Grant, and recognised for its enterprising approach to community service.


Today, Parchmore Place is a hive of activity. They run workshops, hire out meeting spaces, and house an education academy. Their services are to young people who are not in education, employment or training; youngsters at risk of exclusion; people seeking business or personal development, and vulnerable adults requiring community care. It has won them the trust of local government, and an annual social care contract worth £500,000.


It has also won Claudine an MBE. And this year, celebrating 20 years in business, she and Patrick still take pleasure from providing a ‘solutions-focused’ service that helps people overcome their challenges, transform their lives and change their future.


“Inspired by the changing community needs that surround us, we recognised that we were able to be part of the solution,” said Claudine, reflecting on their raison d’être. “We stay because we can see the results of empowerment, and of communities being able to help themselves and foster solutions using the vehicles of care, education and economic empowerment.”


Asked about some of the golden moments over the years, Claudine shared two: one concerning a 98-year-old woman and another, a young man. Doctors had given the lady just three months to live but, ten years later, “due to the quality and standard of care given” by PJ’s, she was still alive. Having left a PJ’s youth project two years previously, the young man turned up one day just to say “Thank you for not giving up on me”.


They’ve had their challenges too, of course. “One of our greatest was when a major multi-national organisation wanted to buy the company,” Claudine said. “We were very naïve; we shared crucial trade information without taking appropriate legal advice. The deal fell through; the organisation used our ideas, and there was little we could do about it.”


Twenty years into the business, Claudine said their success as a husband-and-wife team is based on both their similarities and differences: “We share the same vision and want to see the fruition of this”, she explained. “We don’t compete with each other, but rather we complete each other.”


Their strategy for growth is two-fold: leadership and learning. “As leaders, we are involved in a number of initiatives at different levels locally,” they explain. “We support schools and universities, feeding into policy and key decisions that impact the community, city and country. As learners, we improve our practice by learning from our mistakes, and by sharing this knowledge and experience to empower others.”


The Reids are both active members of Grace Tabernacle in Thornton Heath, and say their faith is important to them. Claudine explained, “We are able to demonstrate our faith through practical application of the Word of God in our action through our business, using the vehicle of care, education and empowerment.”


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