Ian Drayton - Director

After winning a scholarship to a public school and graduating in law, Ian turned his back on a conventional career path. His goal was to start at the bottom of the company and rise through the ranks, to understand management while appreciating what it’s like below. It gave him an insight into business, and people, and shaped his outlook. So, he started work at the bottom, at Blackburn Meadows sewage treatment works.

As plant operator for Yorkshire Water, Ian spent the 1980s on the shop floor negotiating with management as a Trade Union Convenor. An active trade unionist, he helped organise a national strike in 1982 and successfully broke the government’s pay deal. It was a formative time.

He was also involved in setting up Firth Park Advice Centre and sat on the Board of Arches Housing where he developed a clearer understanding of finance and change management.

He went on to become Health and Safety Manager at Yorkshire Water, and dealt with unexploded bombs and fatal accidents. After Ian left Yorkshire Water in 2000, he got involved in the Third Sector, working for Sheffield Community Enterprise Development Unit supporting and developing social enterprises.

Outside the day job, he got hands-on in community regeneration after moving to the Longley Estate in Sheffield in the early nineties. Involved in its tenants’ association as Treasurer, they worked to secure an ERDF investment. This spring-boarded into a group of community activists setting up North East Sheffield Trust, which helped the local authority secure £20m regeneration funding. Southey & Owlerton Regeneration (SOAR), a community regeneration charity, was then set up.

Ian has been Partnership Manager at SOAR – a job title he sees as a badge of honour – since 2005. He always felt there was a better way than ‘command and control’. His belief is the boss should always be at the centre, not the top, for a motivated, fulfilled staff and better client cantered services.

He turned SOAR around from 100% grant reliance to 0% as a social enterprise in five years. Key achievements include securing £8m to develop SOAR Works enterprise centre and Library Learning Centre and £2m for SOAR and related local organisations.

He has held numerous Trustee, Director and Chair roles in key Sheffield organisations working in housing, charity and enterprise. He became Director of Key Fund in 2010.

Ian is valued on the Key Fund Board for his honest and strong moral base. Working on the frontline, he lives and breathes the work; it’s in his blood. Driven by what he sees as morally unacceptable when it comes to inequality, he is passionate about the role of enterprise to empower people out of disadvantage and make a difference to their communities.

An advocate of local social business, he fears inefficient, faceless oligarchies running public sector services. He believes the work of the Key Fund to support client-centred enterprises, employing local people, working in the communities they live.

Contact Ian on info@thekeyfund.co.uk