The Soap Co. win PwC Award

CLARITY-The Soap Co. wins PwC Building Public Trust Award


The Soap Co. logoCLARITY-The Soap Co. was named winner of the Environmental Impact Category in the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club Awards, which were announced at the annual PwC Building Public Trust Awards lunch on 30th November.

These awards recognise PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club members who are implementing innovative and impactful solutions to society’s challenges. The winner is selected by a panel of judges and awarded a trophy and a £5,000 prize.

As part of its submission, CLARITY-The Soap Co. detailed how it recently become proud holders of The Planet Mark™, an internationally-recognised and trusted sustainability certification programme in partnership with the Eden Project. It has also committed to reducing its carbon footprint annually by 5% and to improving accountability in how and from where materials are sourced. Ingredients, bottles and labels wherever possible come from UK suppliers and they are either recycled, compostable or recyclable. CLARITY-The Soap Co. manufactures its products by using 100% green energy – a clear statement of its commitment to the environment.

In addition, the organisation has just formulated a new eco range for both of its brands. The CLARITYECO+ range – with an eco-foaming, biodegradable hand wash made with 100% eco certified ingredients – and The Soap Co.’s new Eco & Bee Friendly collection.

Anja Batista Sonksen, one of CLARITY-The Soap Co.’s Trustees, and Camilla Marcus Dew, Head of Commercial at CLARITY–The Soap Co., received the award from ITN’s Mary Nightingale.

Camilla commented: “It is so gratifying be recognised by the PwC judges as a leading eco-friendly social enterprise that is establishing best practice in how to manufacture great products without ever compromising on our environmental ethos.

“This demonstrates we are on the right track in both delivering and communicating our vision for the future. We pride ourselves on having a no compromise approach; our vision is to make environmentally friendly and socially responsible products mainstream. We have worked hard to better articulate how our social enterprise ethos is integrated into our business practices and to sharpen our proposal both from a marketing and sales perspective.

“We are currently making real headway with our new CLARITYECO+ range and we have already gained the attention of a number of supermarkets. In addition, we have launched our brand new The Soap Co. luxury Eco & Bee Friendly collection that is doing well in what is a hugely competitive market.”

CLARITY–The Soap Co. was also ‘highly commended’ for the second year running in the prestigious, One to Watch award category at the 2017 Social Enterprise UK Awards in November. The award is given ‘for a social enterprise that can clearly articulate their future vision and how they are going to achieve it.’ CLARITY – The Soap Co. was also shortlisted in the Consumer Facing Social Enterprise category, ‘for a social enterprise that produced or delivers a retail product or service to the general public.’

Dave Edwards' lights display in Birmingham

Dazzling Christmas display to raise money for charity

There’s a magical winter wonderland at hospice supporter Dave Edwards’ house as he’s switched on 25,000 Christmas lights to raise money for two charities over the festive period.

Dave and his family have lit up their home and garden in Cheltenham Drive, Bromford, in the hope of collecting £1,000 for Birmingham’s John Taylor Hospice and the Alzheimer’s Society in Birmingham and Solihull.

Dave Edwards turns on 25000 Christmas lights for charity

Dave Edwards turns on 25,000 Christmas lights for charity

The 26-year-old business owner has held his own illuminations for more than a decade and his sparkling displays have raised thousands of pounds for charities. This is the third time Dave has chosen John Taylor Hospice to be a beneficiary of the extravaganza which features penguins, snowmen, reindeer, polar bears and, of course, Father Christmas.

It takes months of planning and weeks of installation to launch the spectacle which also includes a programmed light show in time to popular festive hits. The lights show is open until 1st January and all Dave asks in return is a donation to the chosen charities.

“I started working on it at the beginning of October but I don’t mind – it’s worth it because so many people enjoy it,” said Dave. “It all stems from a love of lights as a child. We used to go around and see people’s lights as a family and then we got one set, then two sets – and now we have 25,000 lights!”

Dave held his first illuminated extravaganza when he was just a teenager and each year he adds a little extra. And he’s keen for his hard work to raise money for local charities.

“This year’s I’ve chosen John Taylor Hospice and the Alzheimer’s Society, both for personal reasons because friends and family have been supported by them,” he said.

“We’d love as many people as possible to come and the lights will be on every day until 1 January. If we’re here, we will also open the garden so people can come in but, if not, you can still see them over the fence. The lights and music show is until 8pm and then the lights stay on until 10pm. I’m hoping to raise £1,000 this year so we’d ask everyone, if they can, to donate.”

John Taylor Hospice Community Fundraising Manager Kerry McGrath urged local people to support Dave’s efforts. “Dave does an amazing job putting the lights show together and raising so much money for worthy causes including his local hospice John Taylor,” she said. “We are really grateful to him for choosing to support John Taylor Hospice again – his hard work is helping us make all the difference for local families.”

Dave is one of many people across the city supporting John Taylor’s Gift a Christmas campaign which is aiming to raise £15,000 – enough to pay for all of the hospice’s services on Christmas Day.

As well as visiting Dave’s lights, people can support Gift a Christmas in a host of ways including buying hospice Christmas cards, holding a Christmas Jumper Day, organising a festive coffee morning or making donations in lieu of cards.

For more on the campaign, visit the John Taylor Hospice website.

View a video of Dave’s spectacular lights switch-on below:

BS3 Community Development Chessel Centre

New public art unveiled to mark completion of Bristol community centre

BS3 Community Development logoA new piece of public art has been unveiled in Bristol to mark completion of a new community centre and nursery, the Chessel Centre, run by social enterprise BS3 Community Development.

Work started on the Chessel Centre, the latest venture by the local charity, formerly known as the Southville Community Development Association (SCDA), late last year and comprises a 54-place nursery, a meeting room for use by local community groups/activities such as after-school clubs for children and social clubs for older people, as well as large outdoor play spaces for the nursery.

Earlier this year a call went out to local artists to produce a piece of work inspired by the local community, working with local primary school children to come up with the creative design. Local artist, character designer and graduate of Bristol School of Animation, Nila Murali was selected to fulfil the brief. Nila has worked with three local primary schools with pupils creating artworks to inspire the final design.

Dr Simon Hankins, Chief Executive Officer at BS3 Community Development commented: “The Chessel Centre has been an ambitious but much needed project for the area, especially to help meet the demand for quality childcare provision in the area. It’s important to us that this is a place where members of the local community can learn, grow, have fun and get together with friends and family.

“Most importantly, we want this to be a place where people can feel proud about being part of the BS3 community and having this art project, created by the community, above the entranceway is a big part of that.”

Nila Murali, commissioned artist, commented: “Bristol has such a terrific reputation for creativity and it was a pleasure to be a part of this project.

“The Chessel Centre is a place for families and particularly young children, so I thought that having young children come up with the concepts and creative ideas really tied in nicely. That element of community spirit was the main reason why I wanted to be part of this project.”

Following the grand unveiling, an exhibition containing all of the artwork created by the local schoolchildren will open in the new community hall at the Chessel Centre in due course. The facilities at the Chessel Centre will open over the coming months, with the new 54 place nursery now open, and the community room opening in the New Year.

For more information please visit

For more information on artist Nila Murali visit

Esther Wright and Jean Jarvis MBE

Phone Box Millionaire is guest speaker at Fuse CIC first national conference

Stephen Fear, better known as ‘The Phone Box Millionaire’, is set to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs at the first national conference to be organised by Fuse CIC, a Shropshire based social enterprise development company.

Fuse CIC conference

Fear, who started his business empire from a phone box on a council estate in Bristol and is now a multi-millionaire, will keynote the Fuse conference, alongside some of the sectors’ leading thinkers. They will share their thoughts, insights and expertise on how social housing providers and social enterprises can come together to address some of the challenges they and their tenants face.

Jean Jarvis MBE, Managing Director of Shropshire-based Fuse, said she is delighted to be hosting a national conference. “Social enterprise is a huge passion of mine. At FUSE we have done a lot of work with the Wrekin Housing Trust and I want other housing organisations and social enterprises from across the UK to realise what a positive difference this partnership can make to people’s lives – hence the theme, social housing and social enterprise… a match made in heaven.

“It’s really exciting for us to host our first conference and we’re delighted to have Stephen at the event. His story, as someone who started from humble beginnings and went on to become a successful entrepreneur, is exactly the positive message of opportunity we at Fuse want to share with those we support.”

Esther Wright, Chair of Fuse said: “Planning is well underway and it’s shaping up to be a very interesting and informative programme.”

Other confirmed speakers at the conference include Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive Social Enterprise UK; Sinead Butters, Chief Executive ASPIRE Housing; and Wayne Gethings Managing Director of Wrekin Housing Trust.

The conference, on 8th March 2018, will be hosted at the Northfield Village in Stafford. “Northfield is a unique development that provides a holistic approach to accommodation, community and care,” Esther added.

“Fuse manages the community hub at Northfield and we are really proud to be part of this innovative partnership scheme.”

Conference organisers expect up to 80 delegates from a wide range of housing, health and social enterprise sectors at the event. It will include workshops on measuring social value and the use of Virtual Reality for social good – as well as the opportunity to look around and see at first hand the services and facilities at the Northfield Village.

Full event details are available on the Fuse website or for more information email [email protected].

Chocolate Films logo

Chocolate Films release Kew animation Love Bug

Chocolate Films Love Bug animationThis summer Chocolate Films Workshops were in residence at the Royal Botanics Gardens Kew, to produce an animation about pollination and pollinators called Love Bug. The film broke the record for the most individual contributions to an animation film, with 2,753 participants all taking part in most aspects of making the Love Bug film, whether that was to cut, model, stick animation props to be filmed.

The film hit the big screen from 1st December at the Richmond ODEON Studios on Red Lion Street (TW9 6RE), and will be shown before the following feature films: Frozen, The Nut Job 2, Despicable 3 and The Man who Invented Christmas.

Take your friends and family, it is a beautiful film made by the general public (all 2,753 of them) and produced by Chocolate Films.

You can view the trailer below:



Create #ElflessActs this Christmas

Every year 1 in 4 parents go into debt at Christmas trying to buy the perfect presents. Crazily, only 1% of the materials that go into making the stuff we buy are actually still in use 6 months on – that’s a lot of waste stress, resources and money.

This year, Global Action Plan is running an innovative Christmas campaign called Elfless Acts. It’s all about giving your time to friends and loved ones instead of stuff they don’t want or need.

Join the fun at to design amazing gifts in minutes that create memories not receipts. Use it for your team’s Secret Santa, family gifts and more, there are loads of great ideas.

Let’s create more fun and less stuff this Christmas – and focus on what really matters. Check out the hashtag #elflessacts and get giving!

Elfless Acts

Volunteers Wendy Simpson and Terry Morton

From one charitable donation to another

It’s not something you hear every day – a charity in South Shropshire has handed over a cheque for more than £1,500 to another charity.

South-Shropshire-Furniture-Scheme-1The Furniture Scheme, which supports local people in crisis or in need, has honoured its commitment to give Severn Hospice 10% of the first year earnings made at its charity bookshop in the Square, Craven Arms. The former Severn Hospice shop was taken over by The Furniture Scheme in April 2016 and most volunteers stayed on.

Jean Jarvis MBE, Chief Executive of The Furniture Scheme, said they wanted to keep the goodwill of the people. “This was a well supported shop and we were so impressed by the dedication and commitment of the local volunteers,” she said.

“The Furniture Scheme has great respect for Severn Hospice and the fantastic work it does and are glad both charities have been able to benefit from the successful year of trading under new ownership. We would like to thank the local people for their continued generous support and our volunteers for the hard work they do.”

The Charity Book Shop is open six days a week and has 28 volunteers. Ms Jarvis said the book shop fits well with The Furniture Scheme ethos of reuse and recycling and complements their bookshop in Ludlow.

As part of a Christmas celebration to thank volunteers across the charity a video has been made showcasing all the hard work everyone does in all different departments of The Furniture Scheme. The segment featuring book shop volunteers has been released early to mark the cheque presentation to Severn Hospice. You can see it below.

John Carberry from Severn Hospice said they were delighted to receive the donation. “When we closed the book shop in Craven Arms we know a lot of people were disappointed, so when we heard The Furniture Scheme wanted to help support us as well it was a great surprise.

“Bookworms in the town have been quietly helping us all year and we are so pleased with the money raised. We are very grateful for the donation and delighted to also see the people who volunteered in our shop still helping out with just the same enthusiasm.”

If you have any good quality books you would like to donate to the shop you can drop them off at the Charity Book Shop or Craven Arms Sport and Community Centre which is also managed by The Furniture Scheme.

For more information about the Furniture Scheme visit the website, call 01584 874922 or email [email protected].

Rachel Wang celebrating with Actor, Michael Sheen at the Social Enterprise Awards 2017

Chocolate Films’ Rachel Wang wins UK Social Enterprise Award

Rachel Wang, the Founder and Director of South London social enterprise Chocolate Films, has won the Women in Social Enterprise Award at the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2017, which were held on 23rd November at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London.

The national awards, organised by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) recognise excellence and outstanding achievements by social enterprises, businesses set up to for a social purpose that reinvest or donate the majority of their profits to meet their mission. There are now nearly 80,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £24 billion to the economy each year.

Rachel’s company Chocolate Films was founded with a unique business model for the video production industry. It employs a large full-time team of talented filmmakers who split their time between making films for high profile clients and running creative workshops for children and young people.

Chocolate Films logoChocolate Films has grown organically since it was founded in 2001 and now has offices in London and Glasgow. In 2017, Chocolate Films worked with over 5000 people on workshop projects and shot films in London, LA and Singapore for clients as diverse as Big Issue, Jeep, National Autistic Society, National Gallery, The Royal Society, St Mungo’s and Divine Chocolate.

Chocolate Films is committed to community cohesion and is the production company behind documentary project 1000 Londoners.

“I am thrilled to have won the ‘Women in Social Enterprise’ Award and so proud of my team at Chocolate Films,” says Rachel . “I am passionate about reaching out to diverse community groups and deprived backgrounds. Over the past year we have focused on running empowering projects for young women. We devised an all-female filmmaking project with Peabody Estates and celebrated strong and unique women in London in a special season of 1000 Londoners. The UK Social Enterprise Award is such an amazing recognition of our work.”

The annual celebration of British social enterprises was hosted by comedian Aisling Bea who was joined onstage by SEUK patrons, actor Michael Sheen and director/comedian Chris Addison.

Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK said: “The UK Social Enterprise Awards are a real testament to the dynamism and diversity of the UK social enterprise sector. This year’s winners have included a social enterprise employing IT consultants who bring together the unique talents of people living with autism, coffee carts transforming the lives of those without a home, a film company opening up the creative industries to young people and even a social enterprise dental service working in some of the UK’s most challenging neighbourhoods. 

“Social enterprises are continuing to prove that they’re a force to be reckoned with, they’re creating solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face and showing how business can and should be done.”

Social enterprise supply chain

Rachel Wang and the other winners were presented with bespoke trophies made by the social enterprise, Designs in Mind, which employs people with mental health issues. Social enterprises also supplied all the goods and services on the night, including the catering, rigging, drinks, flower displays and goody bags.

Sponsors of the Awards are the British Council, Big Society Capital, Cordant Group GLL, Good Finance, Here, Landmarc, Natwest, Nominet Trust, PwC, Power to Change, the Co-op, Santander, Wates, Social Investment Scotland and Unity Trust Bank.

1000 Londoners

1000 Londoners Youth Takeover

London’s largest documentary web series 1000 Londoners is handing the reins to young people in the capital for the next 5 months, during which it will release short films made by young filmmakers, aged 11 to 19 as part of this year’s 1000 Londoners ‘Youth Takeover’. All the films have been created by first time young filmmakers that have been trained on Chocolate Films workshops.

Watch the first film, Victoria – Londoner #243:

In the summer, Chocolate Films Workshops returned to Wimbledon Bookfest to train and mentor young people in how to make strong documentaries and discover interesting stories. Participants used cameras and editing software to make these films themselves, supported by filmmaking professionals. The enthusiasm of creative young people as well as passionate facilitators resulted in 10 gripping films, showing Londoners’ lives across 10 different decades.

Heathrow Community Fund also enabled Chocolate Films to run a rich filmmaking programme at West Thames College in Hounslow. Over the course of an academic year, 40 students supported by 6 filmmakers made films about themselves. Working together as peers and being the makers as well as the subjects of the films was a challenge, but the outcome are great stories reflecting young urban life to the limit.

In Islington, 4 films were made at Summerversity , the borough’s free activities and opportunities for young people during the summer holidays. Chocolate Films inspired young people to create fascinating documentaries about healthy living and the people they know in the borough. At Uxbridge College students supported by their Media Teacher created 4 1000 Londoners films as part of their GCSE Media course.


About 1000 Londoners

Chocolate Films’ current flagship project 1000 Londoners is the most in-depth and expansive documentary series ever produced about the city. Each week at, viewers are able to watch a three-minute film about a new Londoner. The range of stories is as diverse as the city itself. The series includes stories such as Leni whose flat burned down in London’s 2011 riots, David who captains the Woolwich Ferry, political mural artist Brian Barnes OBE, transgender magician Victoria and Samson an ex-gang member now born again Christian. 1000 Londoners is produced by South London based film production company and social enterprise, Chocolate Films. The filmmakers from Chocolate Films both produce the films and provide opportunities to young people and community groups to make their own short documentaries, which will contribute to the 1000 films.

Art4Space mosaic class

Mosaic and tile-making classes

Art4Space is continuing their popular mosaic and tile making classes in Stockwell, London on Tuesday evenings in January. You decide what you want to create… for example – mosaic mirrors, panels, frames or table tops, it is up to you!

The classes are run by artists with over 18-years experience who have a real passion for their art forms. The artists will inspire you to explore your creativity in a relaxed learning environment. These classes cover the basics as well as more advanced techniques – dive in at whatever level suits you!

You will be introduced to the fundamentals of mosaic and tile-making which will allow you to progress onto further projects, e.g a mosaic art piece, plant pot, mirror frame, table top etc. Create handmade ceramic tiles using your own design.

“I enjoyed my course so much! Eli and Julie are great tutors with lots of experience!” – Previous participant

This class runs every Tuesday as a drop-in class, and Art4Space also run a 5 week course for £120 or a 10 week course for £230. All materials included in the cost. Refreshments provided (Including a glass of vino if desired!). We also do vouchers, which makes the perfect gift for Christmas.

All classes will run from 6.30pm – 9pm on Tuesdays.


Art4Space Community Art Centre, Unit 1, 31 Jeffreys Road, London, SW4 6QU

5 mins from Stockwell tube, free parking.


  • 10 week course – £230
  • 5 week course – £120
  • Drop in (per class) – £25

To book a place email Julie Norburn, or call 07816 386270.

3. John Taylor Hospice launches its Gift a Christmas campaign

Hospice launches Gift a Christmas campaign to help pay for Christmas Day

John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham is asking local communities to get behind its festive appeal to raise £15,000 – enough to fund running costs at the hospice on Christmas Day.

Patients, staff and volunteers celebrating Christmas at John Taylor Hospice

Patients, staff and volunteers celebrating Christmas at John Taylor Hospice

The hospice has been at the heart of communities for over 100 years, caring for generations of families. Today more than 600 people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones will receive the care they need from John Taylor teams.

Showing his support for the Gift a Christmas campaign is Peter Knight from Birmingham. For Peter, having John Taylor’s Hospice at Home Team on hand made all the difference when he was caring for his wife Ann, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2012. Despite intensive rounds of chemotherapy the cancer spread and in September 2013 the family was told her condition was palliative. The couple were heartbroken but determined to be together, with Ann remaining in their Tile Cross home through the duration of her life.

“Everybody loved Ann,” says Peter. “She was kind and considerate and never spoke a bad word about anybody. She was very gentle but also very strong.”

That strength was what made Ann determined to make the best of her last few months. “I was doing everything for her but by this time I realised I needed help,” says 66-year-old Peter. “So the district nurses referred Ann to John Taylor Hospice.

“They came every day and did whatever she wanted them to do. They might give her a bed bath or a flannel, they might wash her hair. Sometimes they might just sit and talk to her. It was whatever she was up for that day. And when I say every day I mean every day – even Christmas Day. The Hospice at Home Team did so much for Ann and she really looked forward to them coming to visit. They became friends.”

With the support of the district nurses and the Hospice at Home team, Ann’s wish to die peacefully at home was fulfilled in February 2014. Peter, a retired company director, was so keen to support other families that he is now a volunteer photographer with the hospice and supports staff at events such as Light up a Life.

“I don’t know how we would have managed without them and now I feel I need to pass on to others the help that we had,” adds Peter. “I would encourage people to show their support for the Gift a Christmas campaign as I know just how compassionate and caring the hospice staff are and what a difference they make for the families they care for.”

The hospice is now inviting everyone, not just those touched by hospice care, to join the Gift a Christmas campaign and help make a huge difference for local families.

“Every moment matters here at John Taylor Hospice and our patients are at the heart of everything we do,” explains Darren Dudley, Community Fundraising Manager at the hospice.

“We do everything we can to make sure the festive season is an extra special time packed full of fun, entertainment and laughter. If patients are unable to spend Christmas at home then we bring it here to the hospice and help families to create precious memories they can cherish. Patients and their loved ones are welcomed as if they are part of our family and our home is their home.

“Our services are free to those who need them but it costs £15,000 every day to provide this care. We’d be really grateful for your support as together we can help ensure we’re there for families when they need us most – now and in the future.”

To find out how you can support the John Taylor Hospice Gift a Christmas campaign visit 

Big Issue Invest supports local co-working space with a social purpose

Big Issue Invest logoThe Big Issue’s social investment arm, Big Issue Invest, has teamed up with Connection Crew to launch Canvas in Brixton – a co-working space with a social purpose.

The space offers creative and social ventures a spacious and aspiring base to grow from for a fair price. Any profit generated goes toward helping people out of homelessness and into training and employment.

Connection Crew, the organisation behind Canvas, is a social enterprise providing manpower to the events industry; 25% of its workforce is from a homeless background. Canvas, which benefited from a £45K investment, is based on the whole first floor of its HQ and training centre on Lyham Road, by HMP Brixton.

Director of Connection Crew, Charlie Dorman, commented: “When we moved here in February we thought we’d let our additional space to one commercial tenant. No fuss. Any profit would be used to maintain our training facilities.”

“But then we realised we could make a more inspiring contribution to the local economy by accommodating a range of ambitious, creative and socially responsible businesses instead.”

“It’s more fitting with the culture of diversity and collaboration that thrives here in Brixton. With the support of Big Issue Invest we’re in a position to help build on that.”

Alan Tudhope, Regional Investment Manager at Big Issue Invest said: “A lot of great organisations struggle to access small and medium-sized loans, so we want to provide support for those exciting social enterprises and charities.”

“We are so pleased that we have been able to provide support to Connection Crew in order for them to continue to keep doing the incredible work they do.”

Big Issue Invest launched Impact Loans England, a £5 million lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000 in 2016. The programme is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, with finance being provided by its partners Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

Canvas will open early next year and is currently open for viewings, visit for further information.

John Taylor Hospice Light up a Life service

Let memories of your loved ones shine brightly at Light up a Life

Staff and volunteers at John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham are inviting families and friends to join them at Light up a Life, an annual remembrance event to remember loved ones who have died and to make a dedication in their memory.

Light up a Life will be held on Sunday 10th December at 6pm at Hollyfields Centre in Erdington. The short service will feature music, readings and a quiet moment for reflection – all dedicated to people who are very special to us. A tree full of lights is illuminated during the service and there is the opportunity to make a dedication in the hospice’s Book of Remembrance.

This year, the hospice has introduced dedication stars as a new way to write a personal message to someone special. Each dedication pack contains two stars with space to write a message – one star is to keep and one can be returned to John Taylor to decorate Christmas trees inside the hospice during December.

John Taylor Hospice Light up a Life

Helen, Betty and Joanne Morris visiting the Tower of London poppy installation in 2014

Joining this year’s Light up a Life in memory of their mother Betty Morris are sisters Joanne and Helen Morris. When Betty was diagnosed with womb and lung cancer in May 2016, her wish was to be cared for at John Taylor Hospice. Joanne and Helen say they will be ‘forever grateful’ for the care and support their mother received from the hospice – both in her own home and at the hospice in Erdington, Birmingham.

“Mommy was very caring and was always thinking of others,” said Helen, 54. “The three of us lived very happily together in our home in Great Barr. When the ambulance arrived to take Mommy to the hospice she waved goodbye to her home of 58 years.

“This was our first experience of a hospice and from the moment she arrived she was welcomed by all staff. All of the care Mommy received at John Taylor was exceptional and this made such a terrible situation quite bearable. We know she was looked after so well and there was never any doubt in our minds which was very reassuring for us all.”

Joanne, 58, added: “We found all the staff to be quite remarkable and it is because of these wonderful people we have lots of happy memories. We always speak so highly of John Taylor and mention hospices to people to make them aware of what fantastic places they are. We will never forget all that was done for Mommy and feel we will be forever grateful.”

Hospices around the UK host Light up a Life events during the festive period and they are open to anyone – not just people whose loved ones were cared for by a hospice. As well as being a special time to remember loved ones, Light up a Life donations help to support the work of hospices by raising vital funds.

“Hundreds of families joined us for last year’s Light up a Life and it is always a very special and moving service,” said John Taylor’s Community Fundraising Manager Darren Dudley. “We feel privileged to stand side-by-side with families, friends, hospice staff and volunteers to honour the lives of people we love and miss and will always hold dear.”

There is no need to register for the event but dedications for the Book of Remembrance will need to be with the hospice by 1 December. For more information please email [email protected] or visit

IC24’s Clinical Lead Debbie Pullinger (left) and Nurse Prescriber Sarah Birch (right)

Care provider helps with flu vaccinations for Eastbourne’s homeless population

Clinical staff from care provider Integrated Care 24 (IC24) administered vaccinations to homeless people in Eastbourne this week as part of a flu prevention initiative.

IC24 Clinical Lead Debbie Pullinger administering flu vaccination

IC24 Clinical Lead Debbie Pullinger administering the flu vaccination

On the evening of 17th October, clinical staff visited the Salvation Army centre in Langney Road to provide flu jabs to some of the homeless population within Eastbourne. The session was held after Public Health England (PHE) invited IC24 to support a flu vaccination initiative amongst the homeless population in the area. The vaccinations were given at the Salvation Army centre, whilst a hot meal evening was being held.

Clinical staff from IC24’s walk in centre, based at Eastbourne Station, offered to support the initiative and a total of 19 people had the vaccination. IC24 will be working closely with the local Salvation Army to identify other ways in which further support can be provided.

Integrated Care 24 is a not for profit social enterprise, accredited with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark, delivering unscheduled primary care services. In Sussex, IC24 run services including the GP led health centres in Eastbourne and Hastings, and the out of hours GP service across East Sussex.

Debbie Pullinger, Clinical Lead at Eastbourne walk in centre for Integrated Care 24 said: “We are aware that homeless people will not always have the best access to healthcare. They are at high risk of developing flu due to the amount of time spent exposed to the elements, and providing this service will hopefully help reduce the risk of them falling ill during the winter months. There’s a concerted effort nationally to prevent a flu epidemic this winter and reduce the number of admissions to hospital; when we were approached by Public Health England and asked if we would help deliver this programme in Eastbourne we were only too happy to support.”

Dr Max Kammerling, Screening and Immunisations Lead for the PHE in Sussex and Surrey, said: “It is vital at this time of year that we all do as much as we can to help the people most at risk take better care of their health in winter, and avoid becoming so ill that they have to go to a GP or be admitted to hospital. This includes people with chronic diseases, or other health conditions which cause a weakened immune system, and we urge them to get their flu vaccination as they are at much greater risk of the serious complications of flu. People living on the streets or in temporary accommodation are particularly vulnerable when the weather turns cold, and the consequences can be potentially life threatening. Offering flu vaccinations before the flu virus circulates and providing health assessments can make a real difference to protecting them in this difficult time – and we fully support initiatives such as these and encourage all those who are able to do the same.”

Jean Jarvis with The Furniture Scheme calendar

Shropshire charity launches its first calendar

A Shropshire charity has launched a new fine art calendar – featuring a donated wooden chair. The Furniture Scheme, based in Ludlow, commissioned local photographer Nigel Bishop, who has spent months capturing images of the chair in unexpected locations across south Shropshire.

South Shropshire Furniture SchemeThe charity, which recieved donations of unwanted furniture, is well known for repairing, restoring and upcycling it and sells it to raise much needed funds to help local people.

The 2018 calendar is a new way of fundraising and will be on sale this month at all Furniture Scheme outlets, Castle Bookshop in Ludlow and online at

Chief Executive of the charity, Jean Jarvis MBE, said: “The photographs really are quite stunning. It features some of south Shropshire’s most beautiful locations.

“We thought producing a calendar would be a good way to highlight the work we do, to remind people throughout the year and pay tribute to our wonderful volunteers.”

The Furniture Scheme has been supporting people in need in South Shropshire for more than 22 years. The charity was initially formed to address growing concerns about the amount of waste going to landfill. It recycles or repairs donated furniture and household goods before passing them on to those in need or selling them to fund work placements for the unemployed. Furniture is restored at the carpentry workshop in Friars Walk before being sold at the Warehouse in Weeping Cross Lane or Renaissance on Tower Street.

The charity also runs Rockspring Community Centre in Ludlow and the Charity Bookshop and CasCA in Craven Arms.

Jean added: “This is the first time we have created a calendar and we look forward to seeing what people have to say. We hope people will buy these as gifts for Christmas and if all goes well it could become an annual publication.”

For more information about the Furniture Scheme visit the website, call 01584 874922 or email [email protected].

intergenerational friendship between older care home residents and nursery children

Intergenerational friendship between the elderly and nursery children

Every Friday a group of excited pre-school children from Bristol don their hi-vis waistcoats ready to take their walking bus down to see their friends at the Amerind Grove residential home for older people.

Last month, children from the Southville Centre nursery featured on the Channel 4 programme The Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. Emma Morris, Lead Practitioner at the nursery, who also appeared on the programme, said that whilst the emphasis of the production team was on the beneficial outcomes for the older adults, she saw clear benefits for the children too. “After the filming finished I was keen to continue this ground-breaking community development and introduce more of our children to local older adults”.

The Southville Centre, managed by the Southville Community Development Association (SCDA), contacted Bupa Amerind Grove Care Home on Raleigh Road to discuss the idea. As a result of the really positive reaction from the staff at Amerind Grove, 12 children from the nursery now visit the care home every week. Aimee Francis, Early Years Practitioner who leads on the project along with Emma, says that the children’s social skills have definitely improved and they are becoming more confident in their interactions and more comfortable with a wider variety of sensory experiences.

The visiting project is a great example of SCDA’s ethos, as they are passionate about increasing the opportunities for interaction between all members of their community. Based on the latest research about building social confidence and self esteem in both young and older people, games and activities are co-ordinated by the Southville Centre and Amerind Grove staff.

Tim Clark, Head of Family Services at SCDA said: “At the Southville Centre we have always worked hard to ensure we provide support to local groups and the community in wide and diverse ways through running our older people’s clubs as well as our nursery provision.  This project demonstrates the incredible benefits of integrating different generations and the children and older adults alike really look forward to the weekly visits.”

SCDA currently operates the award-winning Southville Centre on Beauley Road in Southville and is developing a second site on Chessel Street in Bedminster, which is due to open this November.

Rob Gorman running Birmingham International Marathon

Runners clock up the miles to help their hospice

It was a big weekend for Birmingham as over 20,000 competitors took to the streets in two running events – the Great Birmingham Run and the city’s first-ever International Marathon. Both events finished at the city’s Aston University Campus near to Millennium Point and took runners past landmarks such as Selfridges, Edgbaston Stadium, Cannon Hill Park and Cadbury World.

While some runners were aiming to set a new personal best, many were clocking up the miles for a cause close to their hearts. Among the thousands of charity runners were John Taylor Hospice supporters who, through sponsorship, were racing their way towards vital funds needed to provide hospice care.

Brendan Keenan after the Birmingham International Marathon

Brendan Keenan after the race with his wife Danielle, daughter Robyn (2) and niece Millie (10)

Brendan Keenan from Great Barr completed his first marathon in four hours and 33 minutes with his close friend Anthony Barge. Brendan, who was being supported from the sidelines by his wife Danielle, two-year-old daughter Robyn and 10-year-old niece Millie, said: “It was brilliant and the crowds are so supportive, they really help you to keep going.

“I was running in memory of my dad Christopher Keenan, who spent his last few weeks at John Taylor Hospice before losing his battle with cancer. Thank you to all my friends, family and colleagues who donated to help an amazing place and to support patients and their families in fighting an unforgiving illness.”

Also among the competitors was Rob Gorman who has previously completed half marathons in support of the Birmingham-based hospice. When the decision was announced to hold a marathon in his home city, Rob jumped at the chance to take on an even bigger fundraising challenge. “I have always wanted to do a marathon so when they said there would be one in Birmingham I wanted to do it for the hospice,” said Rob, 47, who lives in Knowle.

“What has been really good is that my running is also inspiring my sons to run as well. I’ve been doing the Park Runs in Cannon Hill Park and my ten-year-old son Dilan and six-year-old son Jaidan have been coming with me. That’s become an important part of the running for me as it is father and son time. I’m really pleased it’s inspiring them to run as well.”

John Taylor Hospice provides support for people living with a terminal illness, both at the hospice in Erdington and in people’s own homes, and has cared for generations of local families.

Hospice Head of Fundraising Katie Mitchell explains why fundraisers are an essential part of the John Taylor support network: “We believe in a compassionate and dignified death for all and every day we ensure that people get the very best care at the end of their life. Without the support of our inspirational fundraisers – like our marathon and half marathon runners – we could not be there to help patients, family members and carers at a time when they really need us.

“Our sincere thanks go to every one of our #TeamJTH runners. We know the amount of training, hard work and determination it takes to make it to the finish line and we’re extremely proud of you all. Your support will help us to continue making a difference for local families – now and in the future.”

To find out more about the work of the hospice and how you can get involved visit

Steve Hawkins, CEO of Pluss

Pluss Work and Health Programme Announcement

The Pluss Organisation CIC is delighted to have been awarded the Work and Health Programme contract for Southern England by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This result will allow Pluss to support an even greater number of people with health conditions and disabilities into sustainable work.

Pluss has a proud heritage of supporting people with health and disability needs and has developed a new model called ‘Opportunities Unlimited’ that will deliver a truly personalised service for job seekers. The key principle to their solution is that with the right support, most people can find work and build a career. They want to ensure that no-one is left behind.

Pluss expects that at least 85% of participants on the programme will have a health condition or disability. They have therefore developed a locally integrated supply chain of specialist providers who will deliver innovative services to jobseekers across the entire Southern region.

The Southern Contract Package Area (CPA) covers the following Jobcentre Plus districts:

  • Devon, Cornwall and Somerset
  • Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Wiltshire and Dorset
  • Avon, Severn and Thames (excluding Milton Keynes and Aylesbury)
  • Berkshire, Surrey, Brighton and West Sussex

The needs of customers will be diverse and our delivery is designed to reach isolated coastal towns, dispersed rural communities and urban hubs.

Pluss will also continue to raise the profile of the DWP’s Disability Confident campaign to help employers fill vacancies through a diverse workforce.

Steve Hawkins, Chief Executive at Pluss, said “Pluss is proud that our health and disability expertise and performance has been recognised by the Department for Work and Pensions. We are delighted to have secured this contract which enables us to work with individuals, stakeholders and employers across the Southern region. We believe people of all abilities should be inspired to achieve a career and this has underpinned our vision for over 45 years.”

Pluss will begin delivery of the Work and Health Programme in January 2018. The contract will help over 35,000 people across the Southern CPA into sustainable employment over the next seven years.

New ethical easy access account for charities and businesses

Good Money WeekTo mark Good Money Week (8th to 14th October) Charity Bank, the savings and loans bank with a mission to use money for good, is challenging charities and businesses to consider what their current bank is doing with their money and whether this is aligned with their organisation’s values.

Research commissioned by Charity Bank earlier this year into the attitudes of the public towards various aspects of banking found that 74% of the British public don’t know how their bank is using or investing their savings, whilst 71% would like their bank to make it clearer where their money is invested. In Charity Bank’s experience, there is a growing number of charities and socially-responsible businesses that are concerned about the social and environmental impact of where their savings are invested.

Launched this week, Charity Bank’s Ethical Easy Access Account offers a competitive rate of interest (of 0.50% gross/AER) to organisations looking for same-day access to their deposits. Money saved with Charity Bank is used to provide loans to support the work of charities and social enterprises across the UK. Eligible deposits up to £85,000 are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the UK’s deposit guarantee scheme.

Justin Hort, Head of Deposit Strategy at Charity Bank, comments: “Moving savings can feel like a big task. However, it’s good practice to regularly review your savings accounts. Whilst the rate of interest often drives savings decisions we also encourage those managing charity or business finances to consider what their current bank is doing with their money.

“Our new Ethical Easy Access Account enables organisations to apply swiftly online, as well as receive personal support from members of our savings team if they wish. Because we are using our savers’ money to fund loans to charities and social enterprises, organisations can ensure their reserves are working for good whilst obtaining a competitive rate of interest.”

Annette Uttley from Voluntary Action Rotherham, a long-standing savings customer, said: “Our aim is to support groups and charities within the Rotherham borough and it’s important to us that every aspect of our work remains in line with our charitable mission. Charity Bank’s reputation and ethos encouraged us to open a deposit account with them in 2010, and its continued positive impact and fantastic customer support have kept us with them ever since.”

Workers at Sandford HydroAt Charity Bank, savers are provided with details of where their money is lent. Sandford Hydro is just one of the places that Charity Bank is helping have an impact. Upon completion, Sandford Hydro will be the largest hydro-electric plant on the Thames, generating approximately 1.6 GWh of clean electricity each year — enough to power around 500 households. Sandford Hydro is the brainchild of local community members, who saw an opportunity to do something good for the environment and to show what can be achieved when a community comes together in this way.

Adriano Figueiredo, Operations Director at Low Carbon Hub, comments: “We approached several banks for funding to help secure the future of Sandford Hydro, but what became clear very quickly was that Charity Bank really cared about our project and wanted to be a part of making it happen. Most commercial banks were singularly focused on the financial side of it, whereas Charity Bank was also interested in the social and environmental impact that our project would create. There was a clear alignment of objectives and we’ve had nothing but support and invaluable help.”

Since 2002, Charity Bank has provided over £195 million of loan finance to support organisations working to enrich and improve society. These loans have facilitated social impact across the UK covering a wide range of sectors. Charity Bank is one of the world’s most ethical companies, according to research carried out by The Good Shopping Guide. It is owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations; its staff do not receive discretionary bonuses. Charity Bank is also the only bank in the UK with the Social Enterprise Mark, recognising its social purpose and social sector ownership.

For more information on Charity Bank’s new Ethical Easy Access Account visit or call 01732 441944.

A group of John Taylor Hospice supporters prepare to take on the nine-mile challenge

Hundreds turn out for John Taylor Hospice Family Walk and Fun Day

Brightly coloured balloons lined the streets of Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield recently as families walked together in memory of loved ones and in support of John Taylor Hospice.

Nearly 150 people gathered at the Hollyfields Centre in Erdington to join the Birmingham hospice’s annual Family Walk and Fun Day. The ever-popular fundraising walk, now in its sixth year, raises money to provide care and support for people living with a terminal illness and their families.

This year, walkers had the choice of a pushchair and dog-friendly 4.5-mile walk or a more challenging 9-mile route. The event also offered entertainment for all ages with a Fun Day packed full of activities including bouncy castles, inflatable slides, raffles and stalls.

Louie O’Neill, 7, cuts the ribbon to signal the start of the charity walk

Louie O’Neill, 7, cuts the ribbon to signal the start of the charity walk

Setting the walkers off on their way was seven-year-old Louie O’Neill from Kingstanding. The young fundraiser – who has raised £1,000 for the hospice this year – was invited to cut the ribbon to signal the start of the charity walk.  Twickenham Primary School pupil Louie started raising money for John Taylor Hospice when he learned that his grandad has terminal cancer. Super supporter Louie has been busy challenging friends and family members to quizzes, holding a charity car wash, collecting money in supermarkets and organising a fundraising stall. He doesn’t plan to stop there and has big plans for the future – including hopes to host his own carnival.

Louie’s mum Charlotte O’Neill said: “There are seven of us here today – along with our dog Maui – to do the walk and watch Louie cut the ribbon. He’s so excited to have been asked to open the event as he feels like a celebrity! He’s been really looking forward to it and we’re so very proud of him.”

The Smart family were walking the 4.5 route in memory of Peter Smart.

The Smart family were walking the 4.5 route in memory of Peter Smart.

Joining the walk for the fifth year were the Smart family from Great Barr. Christopher Smart and his wife Selina walked the 4.5-mile route, with their two sons and their niece by their side, in memory of Christopher’s father Peter Smart.

“My dad had lung cancer and was only at the hospice for a very short time – two to three days,” said Christopher. “The hospice did an outstanding job and it became like a home from home for us. We come to the walk every year to say thank you to the hospice staff for what they did for us. ”

Selina added: “Sometimes when we went to visit Peter we’d have 11 family members in the room at once and the nurses didn’t mind at all. Nothing was too much trouble for them, they were incredible and did an amazing job of looking after us all.”  

Katie Mitchell, Head of Fundraising at the Hio, said: “Thank you so much to everyone who joined us. We certainly didn’t let the dreary weather dampen our spirits and we had a wonderful day. “The Family Walk is a special day for lots of people with many local families joining us year after year to celebrate the lives of their loved ones and to support the work of our hospice. We’re proud to have watched this event grow over the years and we’re extremely grateful to everyone for joining us.

“Many families tell us they come to the Family Walk and Fun Day to show support for the hospice and say thank you for the care their loved ones have received. We want people to know that being there at events really does make a big difference. That incredible support help us to raise vital funds and ensures we’re there for families – just like yours – when they need our care and support.”

For find out more about John Taylor Hospice and see what events are coming up visit

John Taylor Hospice Family Walk and Fun Day

Families set to step out together in support of hospice care

John Taylor Hospice is inviting local communities in Birmingham to join its annual Family Walk and Fun Day on Sunday 1st October.

It’s the sixth year that the Erdington-based hospice has held the sponsored walk and fun-filled family event to raise funds for people living with a terminal illness and their families. The ever-popular event – that last year attracted hundreds of people – will be held at Hollyfields Centre in Woodacre Road, Erdington. This year walkers have a choice of a pushchair-friendly 4.5-mile route or, for those who like more of a challenge, there is a longer nine-mile circuit.

It costs £5 to sign up for the Family Walk with doors opening at 9.30am for registration and walkers stepping out together at 10.30am.

Jane Hall, from Great Barr, will be showing support for the hospice that cared for her father by walking with her family for the second year in a row. Jane, who together with her family raised £425 in sponsorship last year, said: “As a family we took part in the walk in memory of my father, Joseph Jones. We wanted to support John Taylor Hospice as they cared for Dad and helped us all through a very difficult time.

“The staff go above and beyond, nothing was ever too much trouble for them and right until the end they treated my dad with upmost respect. It was the least we could do to say thank you and we’ll also be taking part in the walk again this year.”

You don’t have to take part in the walk to join in the fun at Hollyfields Centre on 1st October, as the hospice is also hosting a Family Fun Day between 11am-4pm. There will be plenty of activities on offer such as bouncy castles, inflatable slides, football games and a go-kart track. Admission to the Family Fun Day is free with wristbands on sale for some of the activities.

Darren Dudley, John Taylor’s Community Fundraising Manager, said: “Our Family Walk and Fun Day is a popular annual date for supporters of all ages. It’s a great day out with the chance to take part in a choice of walks, attractions including raffles, a tombola, giant inflatables and games.

“The event is a great way of supporting John Taylor Hospice to support local families. Every day more than 600 people receive the care they need from our teams both at the hospice in Erdington and in their own homes. Last year’s event raised thousands of pounds and we’re hoping that this year will be our biggest event yet.”

For more information or to register see the hospice website at or call the Fundraising Team on 0121 465 2000.

Charity Bank staff celebrate being named among Best for the World in global business honours

Charity Bank named among Best for the World in global business honours

Charity Bank logoCharity Bank, an ethical bank with a mission to use money for good, has been named among companies that are Best for the World in 2017, selected from more than 2,200 Certified B Corporations.

B Corporations are companies that meet the highest standards of verified overall social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Charity Bank is recognised as being in the top 10 per cent for two categories: Best for Customers for creating the most positive impact on its customers, and Best for the Long Term for creating an innovative governance structure to protect its mission for the long term. B Corporations scoring in the top 10 per cent set a gold standard for businesses wanting to make a positive difference to the world around them.

Charity Bank made the list thanks to its exceptional practices, social sector ownership and social purpose. When you save with Charity Bank, your money is lent to charities and social enterprises working to create lasting social change in communities across the UK. Charity Bank is entirely owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations and its staff do not receive discretionary bonuses.

Charity Bank is a Social Enterprise Mark holder and became the first bank in Europe and sixth organisation in the UK to become a Certified B Corporation in January 2015. Today, there is a growing community of 150 Certified UK B Corporations committed to redefining success in business.

Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, said: “Companies like Charity Bank are proving that business can be a force for good for all stakeholders. We’re proud to share their achievement in a meaningful way. Best for the World is the only list of businesses making the greatest positive impact that uses comprehensive, comparable, third-party-validated data about a company’s social and environmental performance.”    

Patrick Crawford, Chief Executive of Charity Bank, said: “We are proud to be recognised as an organisation that seeks to maximise its social impact. These honours evidence how we put our social purpose and customer interests at the heart of our governance and decision- making. We stand with other organisations using business as a tool to build a better world.”

These honours are based on an independent, comprehensive assessment carried out by B Lab, the non-profit governing body of the standards. The full assessment measures a company’s impact on its workers, community, customers and environment. B Lab simultaneously released separate lists recognising Certified B Corporations as Best for the World (overall impact), Best for Customers, Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for the Long Term, Best for Workers and Best for the World: Changemakers.

Andy Howes Sophie Brooker Andrew Lee Liam Doyle from Willmott Dixon

DIY-SOS style shake up at Shropshire community centre

A £5,000 mini DIY SOS style event has seen changing rooms transformed at a Shropshire community centre.

Twenty workers have donated their time and resources to upgrade the facilities at Craven Arms Sports and Community Centre (CASCA) in Newington Way. Representatives for Willmott Dixon have spent a week there fitting new flooring, shower fittings, tiling and light fittings on behalf of the charity The Furniture Scheme, which runs the building.

South Shropshire Furniture SchemeJean Jarvis MBE, chief executive of The Furniture Scheme, said everyone there is delighted with the work. “It has been an absolutely manic week, with so many people here all the time, I just can’t believe it,” she said.

“We are so thankful to all these people willing to offer their time, resources and, in essence, money, to help upgrade the facilities on offer to people in Craven Arms. It has been a huge effort to ensure all work meets the required legislation for a public building but thanks to the brilliant work of so many volunteers a huge difference has been made.”

“This will help us offer up-to-date facilities to the public and I am sure it will improve their experience when they visit CASCA.”

Andrew Lee, of Willmott Dixon, spent many months arranging the project, sourcing materials and contractors to do the work. He said: “This has been a great project to work on and we are all very pleased to be upgrading the facilities here. At Willmott Dixon we are dedicated to our local area and when the opportunity came up to work with the Furniture Scheme and offer our expertise and skills we didn’t think twice.”

“It has taken a lot of planning and the project has changed somewhat over the months we have been preparing but being on site now and seeing all these people at work and the difference it will make to the local community makes it all worthwhile.”

The new changing rooms will be officially unveiled at the CASCA summer fete on 16th September. This will also be a way to thank local man Craig Nicholson for completing a gruelling five marathons in five days to raise money to pay for summer holiday kids clubs, which have been enjoyed by children over the past couple of months.

For more information about the Furniture Scheme visit the website, call 01588 672847 or email [email protected].

Carol Bernard with John Taylor Day Hospice Nurse Specialist Julie Bennett

John Taylor Hospice ‘Wills Month’ offers reduced will witing

John Taylor Hospice has joined forces with local solicitors to offer people a discounted will writing service during September. Every person who makes a will during the month-long promotion will also know they are helping the hospice care for local families.

From 1st -30th September solicitors who are supporting the scheme are offering people the opportunity to make a single will for £60 and a double will for £110, with half the fee being donated to John Taylor Hospice.

“Making a will is the only way to ensure your wishes are followed after you are gone,” said hospice Patient and Family Support Worker Angie Donovan. “Knowing your will is made gives you peace of mind that everything will happen according to your wishes after your death.”

“You may not consider yourself to be wealthy but, when you add everything up, you may find that you have more than you realise and it’s important that you are the one deciding who your beneficiaries will be. Writing a will means you can choose the family, friends and charities you’d like to remember in your will.”

Legacies form an important part of John Taylor’s fundraising with more than one quarter of the money donated to John Taylor Hospice this year received from people who have made a gift in their will. This money is vital in ensuring John Taylor’s teams can be there for people when they are needed most. Founded in 1910, the hospice has been caring for local people for four generations. For the people who leave us a gift in their will, their legacy is helping make every moment matter for generations to come.

Carol Bernard and JTH Day Hospice Nurse Specialist Julie Bennett

Carol Bernard and JTH Day Hospice Nurse Specialist Julie Bennett

Carol Bernard has been receiving support from John Taylor Hospice since early 2016. She said: “I’d do anything to help John Taylor Hospice. I love going there so much, I only miss my time at the day hospice if it’s an emergency! The staff are amazing and they brighten your day if you’re feeling low. I’ve made incredible friends and I really would be lost without the support of the hospice staff, volunteers and fellow patients.”

Carol, aged 71 of Newtown, Birmingham, added: “I’ve made my will as I didn’t want my son to have to worry about anything. By making a will, nothing is left to chance and it takes pressure away from your loved ones who are safe in the knowledge that your wishes are being fulfilled.”

Solicitors participating in John Taylor’s Wills Month include Baches, Sutton and Co and Robert Shaw and Co – for the full list see the website.

“We’re really grateful for the support of our friends at Sutton and Co, Baches and Robert Shaw and Co again this year,” said hospice Head of Fundraising Katie Mitchell. “By helping people to make a will, we’re offering the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes are followed after your death. The money we receive from gifts in wills is so important to John Taylor Hospice and we’re hoping that, if the time is right for them, people will consider leaving a gift in their will to the hospice.”

Mosaic and tile-making classes

Art4SpaceArt4Space has launched a new programme of mosaic and tile-making classes, to run in Stockwell, London on Tuesday evenings from 12th September.

The classes are run by artists with over 15 years mosaic and ceramic experience who have a real passion for their art forms. The artists will inspire you to explore your creativity in a relaxed learning environment. These classes covers the basics as well as more advanced techniques – dive in at whatever level suits you! You will be introduced to the fundamentals of mosaics and ceramic which will allow you to progress onto further projects, e.g a mosaic art piece, plant pot, mirror frame, table top etc

  • We have a studio packed full of amazing materials for you to use and create your own art piece
  • All materials included in the cost.
  • Refreshments provided (that includes a glass of vino if desired!)
  • 10 week and 5 week courses available.
  • 20% discount at the Art4Space mosaic shop when you book a 10 week course.

All classes will run from 6.30pm – 9pm, starting on Tuesday 12th September.


Art4Space Community Art Centre, Unit 1, 31 Jeffreys Road, London, SW4 6QU

5 mins from Stockwell tube, free parking.


  • 10 week course – £230
  • 5 week course – £120
  • Drop in (per class) – £25

To book a place email Julie Norburn, or call 07816 386270.

Stefan Laird, Carpentry Workshop Supervisor, and Simon Magill, Warehouse Manager, South Shropshire Furniture Scheme

Shropshire charity wheelie excited to offer bikes

A charity in south Shropshire best known for furniture is getting on it’s bike. Literally.

The Warehouse on Weeping Cross Lane, Ludlow, run by the Furniture Scheme, will start selling refurbished bikes this week, after being donated a large amount of cycling equipment and teaming up with industry experts.

Operations manager James Cooper said: “We are delighted to be able to offer bikes for sale as well as the furniture and other goods here. People who need transport could pick up a very high-spec bike for not a lot of money thanks to the donations and help we’ve received.”

“We’ve built up quite a collection and will have both adult and children’s bikes for sale.”

Stefan Laird, Carpentry Workshop Supervisor, South Shropshire Furniture Scheme

Stefan Laird, Carpentry Workshop Supervisor

The charity has been donated parts by their partners Reviive and Ludlow’s Epic cycles. Anyone looking to buy a bike can get 10% as part of an introductory offer, which runs until August 31st.

Members of the local community have been trained in how to construct or repair a bike from parts, under the charity’s commitment to helping local people gain self esteem.

“We have seen many people learn new skills in furniture restoration as part of the work that goes on in the warehouse, now it is time to offer something new for others who may be interested,” James added.

“We have been looking to launch the bike sales for quite a while now and we are delighted that we’ve reached the stage where we can now have them on offer.”

“Cycling is such a positive activity as it keeps people fit but also helps people access employment opportunities if they are without a car. We want those who can’t afford to buy new to be able to access good quality, refurbished bikes at affordable prices. Any profits will help fund the charitable work of the Furniture Scheme.”

The Furniture Scheme has been supporting people in need in South Shropshire for more than 22 years. The charity was initially formed to address growing concerns about the amount of waste going to landfill. It recycles or repairs donated furniture and household goods before passing them on to those in need or selling them to raise much needed funds at one of their shops.

As well as the Warehouse, the Furniture Scheme runs Renaissance on Tower Street, Ludlow, and the  Charity Bookshop and CasCA in Craven Arms.

For more information about the Furniture Scheme visit the website, call 01584 874922 or email [email protected].

#EnhanceSE programme

Enhance Social Enterprise programme of free workshops

As part of the Enhance Social Enterprise (#EnhanceSE) programme, Cosmic is delighted to be delivering two series of free workshops, focussing on Leadership in Social Enterprises, and Getting to Grips with Digital.

#EnhanceSE  is an European Regional Development Fund project, delivering support to social enterprises and social entrepreneurs across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, through to December 2019.  Cosmic is an Enhance SE partner, providing up to 12 hours of free support across three areas of business development; digital, leadership and growth, through a mix of workshops and mentoring.

See below for the Autumn Schedule of workshops:

You can view a fuller explanation of each of the workshop series, content, likely audiences and booking process in the below documents:

Bookings can be made online via Eventbrite.

The Furniture Scheme completes work on new nursery after £10,000 grant

Work to improve nursery completed after £10,000 grant

Work to create a new play area for children and groups in south Shropshire has now been completed thanks to a £10,000 grant.

The Furniture Scheme, based in Ludlow, has installed the open space at CASCA (Community Arts Sports Craven Arms) Nursery – and they are now looking for more volunteers to help with the extra work. The improvements to the site in Newington Way have been made after funding from Awards for All and everyone is delighted with the results.

Jean Jarvis, Chief Executive of The Furniture Scheme, said: “This money has been a huge boost, it has not only benefitted the children at the nursery but all community groups who can book to use it. It’s flat to ensure those less able can access it and the new flooring means it can be used throughout the year regardless of the weather.

“Since it opened we’ve seen lots of people come to use it, many for the first time.”

The work was carried out by Clean Cut Services grounds maintenance, a social enterprise which is part of FUSE Enterprise CIC – a development company which sets up its own social enterprises working to help, support and encourage growth. Veolia also supported the project by offering a skip free of charge.

But Ms Jarvis said the success of the charity and the continuing expansion of services on offer means the charity is in need of more volunteers.

She added: “The Furniture Scheme was launched over 20 years ago as a way to ensure some of the most excluded members of the community could benefit from recycled household items – we now offer computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden, among other things, to help build confidence.

“Many of our volunteers come to us with low self esteem and leave a different person, ready to take on new challenges. It is great because people get confidence and leave us to get a job – but it means we need more volunteers.

“We need people for roles like reception and helping us to set up rooms, there are many different things to do here and we will try to suit what volunteers are interested in. Also we will always, where we can, put people into training and learn new skills.

“It is a good opportunity to be part of our organisation – our family.”

Anyone who would like more information about The Furniture Scheme or CASCA should call 01588 672847 or email [email protected] or visit

Birmingham Mum Supports Campaign to Extend Hospice Care

A Birmingham mum whose life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease is supporting a national campaign to extend hospice care to more families.

Fran Tierney, who receives support from John Taylor Hospice in Erdington, is backing the Open Up Hospice Care campaign, which was launched this month by Hospice UK with John Taylor as a partner after it emerged that nationally one in four families who could benefit from hospice care are not able to access that support.

Fran’s life changed on 12th May 2011 when she was told she had motor neurone disease (MND). A progressive condition which leads to the muscles gradually weakening, MND has had a massive impact not just on Fran but on all those who love her.

“I was having back pains and had tests at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. I was in complete shock when the consultant gave me the diagnosis as I’d never heard of MND before,” says Fran, aged 49, of Erdington.

“Before John Taylor Hospice became involved I was very scared and felt lost in a bewildering new way of life. I knew nothing about my condition and was too frightened to look on the internet for answers.”

But a few months after her diagnosis, Fran was put in touch with the team at Birmingham’s John Taylor Hospice. From that moment onwards, the hospice and its staff have been her point of access – helping her in every way they can.

“Anything and everything I have needed, from equipment to help me stay safe in my home and medical advice to spiritual and well-being comfort, have been offered by the staff at the hospice,” says Fran who is married to Martin and has three grown-up sons Louis, Daniel and George.

“On a practical level this has been invaluable – knowing I can text or email one team in one location and ask for help or advice without having to contact lots of different services, explaining who I am and what my condition is over and over again, which can be upsetting and annoying.

“The specialist nurse from the hospice has been a constant support for me and my family. She has explained everything for me and I know that I can ask her anything without feeling embarrassed.”

As Fran’s ability to speak lessened, the hospice’s occupational therapy team researched ways to help her continue communicating.

“My occupational therapist arranged for a new communication aid to be delivered for me. This was the latest version of software and camera incorporated in a tablet. She organised the different services (speech and language therapist, software development team and the access to communication and technology team) to come to my home and set me up on what has been an unbelievable piece of equipment. It has not only given me a voice but privacy and dignity, you just can’t put a price on that. Thank you doesn’t seem enough.”

Fran is also a regular member of John Taylor’s day hospice where she has made firm friends among staff, volunteers and other patients.

“The hospice organises a variety of different groups and organisations to come into the day hospice from theatre groups, musicians and choirs and artists,” she says. “Patients are welcome to participate if they want to. Some days I just want to read my Kindle and I’m able to do this without any fuss being made.

“And the hospice has opened up lots of opportunities for me. I was privileged enough to take part in a film exhibition in which participants were enabled to make their own films about their illness and what it has meant for them.”

Fran is close to all of her family including her three sisters and brother. Knowing John Taylor’s staff are on hand not just for her but also for her family has helped.

“The hospice have given my family piece of mind. They know that when I am at the day hospice I am happy and safe and when I have had a choking episode I have received the best care possible. The staff make time to get to know me and my family, so it is definitely not a one size fits all, it is truly personal.”

And Fran is keen for other families to benefit from hospice care.

“I honestly don’t know how I would have managed without the constant care, support and advice I have received from the hospice. Everything I have needed and more has been supplied or obtained by the staff at the hospice. They even gave me tickets to go and see Aston Villa Football Club play at home – and we won!

“People have said that the hospice is like a family but for me, you can’t always choose your family but you can choose your friends and that is how I feel about the staff in the hospice. They have seen me at my lowest and most scared and like real friends they have protected my family from this.”

John Taylor Hospice CEO Penny Venables said stories like Fran’s reveal how specialist palliative and end of life care can make all the difference.

“Fran and the many other patients families we support tell us how our expert care helps them with nursing care and pain management, practical help and emotional support.

“But we know there are other families nationally and in Birmingham who could benefit from hospice care who are not currently accessing that help. At John Taylor our vision is a compassionate and dignified death for all and that is why we are partnering Hospice UK for Open Up Hospice Care.”

For more on John Taylor Hospice and the Open Up Hospice Care campaign see and

Hundreds raised for south Shropshire charity at garden event

Hundreds of pounds has been raised for a south Shropshire charity and potential new regular donors found, thanks to an annual garden event.

The small garden event in Ludlow earlier this month collected £600 for The Furniture Scheme and organisers said it helped raise the profile of the charity too – with people interested in joining the Friends scheme.

James Cooper, operations manager for the Furniture Scheme based at Rockspring Community Centre, Sandford Road, said he was very pleased with the event.

A garden open to the public for the annual garden event at South Shropshire Furniture Scheme

A garden open to the public for the annual garden event at South Shropshire Furniture Scheme

“We had 18 people open their gardens to the public and, after expenses, raised £600 for the charity to help people in need in our community. There were a few people who expressed an interest in our Friends of the Furniture Scheme too, they took leaflets and the bonus will be if we’ve gained some new Friends through the event. This will help us in our efforts to secure the charity for the future as well.”

Organisers said more than 200 people visited on what turned out to be a lovely sunny day. Last year 12 gardens opened to the public but this year this event was extended with stalls, a display of local artists’ work at Rockspring and local sculptors’ work displayed in some of the gardens. There was also a variety of stalls along the route and a party atmosphere with a jazz band and vintage cocktails.

James said the event was a good advert for the charity too. “A lot of people asked what it was The Furniture Scheme did and we were able to talk to a lot of new faces and explain our aims.

“We have a small staff team and hundreds of volunteers who help us offer training and work placements to those seeking to increase their skills and experience. We receive fantastic support. People help us in all sorts of ways through donating furniture, equipment, books; buying in our shops; volunteering and fundraising.”

“In recognition of this we launched the Friends of the Furniture Scheme in December, where people are able to give us an annual donation, and we always use events like the small garden one to appeal for more people to become Friends, because more support would help us meet the increasing needs of our community.”

The Furniture Scheme has been supporting people in need in South Shropshire for more than 22 years. The charity was initially formed to address growing concerns about the amount of waste going to landfill. It recycles or repairs donated furniture and household goods before passing them on to those in need or selling them to raise much needed funds at one of their shops.

The Furniture Scheme runs the Warehouse on Weeping Cross Lane and Renaissance on Tower Street in Ludlow. They also work at the Charity Bookshop and CasCA in Craven Arms. For more information on becoming a Friend of the Furniture Scheme contact James Cooper on 01584 874922 or by email.

Charity Bank’s loan book exceeds £100 million

Social Enterprise Mark holder Charity Bank, the ethical bank that uses savings to make loans to charities and social enterprises, today announced that its book of drawn loans has exceeded £100 million for the first time. The bank also shared details of its five most recent loans that helped it to reach this milestone.

Since 2002, Charity Bank has provided over £185 million of loan finance to support more than 850 organisations working to enrich and improve society. These loans have facilitated social impact across the UK covering a wide range of sectors, including arts, community, education, environment, faith, health, housing, regeneration, social care and sports.

Patrick Crawford, Chief Executive of Charity Bank, said: “At the start of 2015 we had a loan book of £52.2 million; two and half years later our loan book has almost doubled. Our growth provides further evidence of how more charities and social enterprises are using loan finance to help them deliver their missions.”

“We continue to be inspired by the charities and social enterprises we have the privilege to work with every day as they help the disadvantaged, enrich lives and improve communities. These organisations are the real heroes and it is our role and privilege to be here to support what they do.” 

The five loans that most recently helped Charity Bank grow its loan book to £100 million:

Elderpark Housing Association

Operating in the Govan area of Glasgow that has experienced significant challenges since the decline of its shipbuilding industry, Elderpark Housing Association is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the quality of social housing available for local people. Currently providing 1,265 rental units, a loan from Charity Bank will enable Elderpark to refurbish 29 more units.

Glossopdale Furniture Project

Since 1997, Glossopdale Furniture Project has been providing good-quality household items at affordable prices to local people on low incomes. All furniture is donated with some being restored or built out of reclaimed material on site, so the project also contributes to recycling and reducing waste locally. A Charity Bank loan will assist with the purchase of a new shop in Glossop.

Hudswell Community Charity

With property and rental prices increasing in the Yorkshire Dales village of Hudswell, many local people with low income can no longer afford to live there. Hudswell Community Charity currently manages three houses in the village. With the help of a Charity Bank loan, the charity is building three more affordable homes, which will be rented to those most in need in the community.

YMCA Black Country Group

From accommodation and childcare provision to employment and health services, the YMCA Black Country Group provides a whole range of opportunities and support networks to help young people from across the Black Country build strong foundations for a better life. A loan from Charity Bank allowed the charity to consolidate its loans on terms that were better suited to its plans for the future.

Stretham & Wilburton Community Land Trust

The two East Cambridge parishes of Stretham and Wilburton came together in 2012 both to address the affordable housing crisis in the area that was resulting in local people and workers having to move away, and to give local people a voice in the development of their community. A Charity Bank loan has enabled the purchase of eight housing units, which will offer housing for 16 persons at below market rent.

Charity Bank’s Loan Portfolio Report for 2017/18 provides many more examples of social sector organisations using loan finance to help them deliver their missions.

Abseilers drop 17 storeys to support hospice care

More than 20 people recently went over the edge in a 170ft abseil to raise money for Social Enterprise Mark holder John Taylor Hospice.

John Taylor Hospice supporters abseiled down the Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham

John Taylor Hospice supporters abseiled down the Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham

Descending 17 floors from the roof of the Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham, the abseilers have raised thousands of pounds to support local families. It was the first abseil organised by the hospice, which has cared for people with a terminal illness and their families for more than 100 years.

For many of the participants the event was the fulfilment of a lifetime ambition – but all agreed they were happy to put their feet back on solid ground.

Carl Oldacres, of Walsall, was taking part in memory of his dad Raymond who was cared for at John Taylor Hospice five years ago. “They did such a good job at the hospice, they couldn’t have done any more for my dad and this is a way of saying thank you,” said 41-year-old Carl, who was cheered on by friends and family. “When my dad was at John Taylor Hospice they organised an 80th birthday party for him. It was his last wish to have that 80th birthday party and they did it all for him, they paid for it and everything. That is something you don’t forget.”

Abseiling in memory of her gran Enid Seeley was 27-year-old Kiran Seeley of Erdington. Enid was supported at home by the hospice teams after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. “The abseil was brilliant,” Kiran said. “When I went over the edge I looked down and my legs just went to jelly but I just kept going and then you get over that.”

Teams from fashion store Fat Face in Birmingham’s Grand Central and electrical parts retailer eSpares also took part in the event. Both companies are long-term supporters of John Taylor.

Dan Mavr, a 24-year-old production data assistant at Small Heath based eSpares, said: “I wanted to abseil today to help John Taylor Hospice – and for the thrill of it. It was really good.”

Staff members from John Taylor Hospice also joined the team including Head of Fundraising Katie Mitchell, PR and Media Officer Louise Allen and Community Fundraising Manager Darren Dudley.

Katie said: “A huge well done to all of our abseilers and thank you to the Park Regis Hotel for being such fantastic hosts. It was a great day and it was lovely to meet so many people for whom John Taylor Hospice is a special place which has made a massive difference by caring for their loved ones.”

“There are lots of other ways for people to support the hospice’s valuable work. There’s still time to join our Great Birmingham Run team, there are places at our Masquerade Ball and all our other events are on our website.”

University of Northampton given Gold rating for teaching excellence

New Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder The University of Northampton has recently achieved a second Gold – it was given the Gold Award in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest rating possible, which places it among the elite of the UK’s higher education institutions.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has been introduced as the only official table which recognises high-quality teaching that better meets the needs of employers, business, industry and the professions, in addition to guiding students on the best places to study.

The official judgement by the Government’s review states: “Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Northampton delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.”

The Government looked at official data and details of what the University provides to its students, and found the following to be “outstanding”:

  • Levels of employment or further study for our graduates;
  • Assessment and feedback;
  • A personalised student experience;
  • Academic support;
  • Our approach to involving students in research, scholarship and professional practice – particularly research in the community and sector-leading work focused on social enterprise.

University of Northampton Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Petford, pictured, said:

“This rating by the Government is confirmation that the University of Northampton is one of the finest teaching institutions in the UK, offering our students an experience that many promise but few can deliver. Our staff and the students who have studied with us – both in the UK and overseas – can take pride today in this outstanding achievement. We may be one of the youngest universities in the UK – but are officially one of the best.”

“It is particularly pleasing to be recognised as a sector leader in social enterprise, something we have been building on strategically since 2010.  Our promise now is to build on this recognition of teaching excellence and continue to deliver our mission to transform lives and inspire change.”

The Government asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to implement the 2017 TEF exercise. Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “Students invest significant amounts of time and money in their higher education. They rightly expect a high-quality learning experience and outcomes that reflect their potential. The UK already has a high bar for quality and standards, which all universities and colleges must meet. But the TEF judges excellence above and beyond this, clearly showing the highest levels across the sector.”

“The TEF measures the things that students themselves say they care about: high-quality, engaged teaching and a supportive, stimulating learning environment which equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their potential, and then to progress to a good job or further study.”

The TEF results and the evidence used in the assessment can be found at  The TEF awards will also be published on Unistats and the UCAS website, alongside other information, to help inform prospective students’ choices.

You can find out more about The University of Northampton’s Gold Award on its dedicated webpage.

Charity fundraiser jumps at the chance to help Birmingham hospice

When Kiran Seeley steps over the edge of Birmingham’s Park Regis Hotel to join Social Enterprise Mark holder John Taylor Hospice’s first abseil, she’ll be remembering her very special grandmother.

“She was always happy – just an absolute joy to be around,” says Kiran when asked to describe her grandmother Enid. “She was so supportive, loved to hear what I was up to and took a great interest in her grandchildren. I remember when I was younger and she’d come to our house to visit. When I’d go to bed that night I’d find £10 stuffed under my pillow. I’d call her up to thank her and she would say ‘don’t tell your mom and dad’! I have so many special memories of her.”

When grandmother-of-two Enid Seeley was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, Kiran and her family were devastated. “She was told that the cancer was too close to her brain so they couldn’t operate,” explains 27-year-old Kiran.

“Chemotherapy and radiotherapy weren’t an option so as a family we pulled together, helping her to still do the things she loved and making sure she was as comfortable as she could be.”

In the spring of 2010, Enid moved from her home in Fillongley, Warwickshire, to live with her son and daughter-in-law, Kiran’s parents, in Erdington.

Kiran and her grandmother Enid Seeley_John Taylor Hospice

Kiran sitting on her grandmother’s lap. This is one of Kiran’s favourite photos of her and her grandmother together

“I was at university in Liverpool at the time but I came home early that summer to spend time with Granny and help Mom and Dad the best I could,” said Kiran. “She started to become frailer and that’s when John Taylor’s Hospice at Home Team came to support us. From my grandmother’s perspective she loved their company. She’d tell the nurses about her life and the little things they did meant so much – like switching on her favourite radio station Classic FM. From our family’s perspective, their support was a big relief.”

“My grandmother passed away peacefully at home in August of that year. It was a bit of a blur for me at the time but now I look back I appreciate just how gentle and compassionate the hospice staff were and my grandmother needed that.”

A committed fundraiser, each year Kiran pledges to raise money for a good cause. She was en route to her job as a buyer for Marston’s Brewery in Wolverhampton when she spotted her next charitable challenge – John Taylor Hospice’s abseil.

She explains: “The last two years I’ve been baking to raise money and whilst this is both fun and tasty it is a hobby I am very much comfortable doing. This year I wanted to set myself a true challenge. I was on the train to work when I spotted an advert for John Taylor’s sponsored abseil and I thought ‘that’s it!’. The hospice provided specialist and considerate palliative care for my grandmother so now’s the time for me to do something for them.”

Head of fundraising Katie Mitchell, who is also part of the abseil team, said: “Kiran and all of our abseilers are doing something wonderful to support John Taylor Hospice. Throughout the past year, hundreds of people like Kiran have helped us provide essential care for local families by fundraising for us. Whether it’s by taking on a challenge, hosting an event or attending one of our events, we’d like to say a huge thank you to each and every one of our supporters. Together we’re making a massive difference for hundreds of patients and their families.”

To book your abseil place for 8 July visit the John Taylor Hospice website at or phone the Fundraising Team on 0121 465 2000.

To show your support for Kiran visit her JustGiving page at

Social enterprise launches new eco-foaming hand wash

New Honey Blossom Eco Foaming Hand Wash from Social Enterprise Mark holder CLARITY, is launched into large organisations and the government to support the employment of blind, disabled and otherwise disadvantaged people.

Developed in co-operation with the Cabinet Office and Interserve, the product, and the fact that CLARITY now holds The Planet MarkTM, emphasises their endeavour to improve environmental credentials.

The hand wash, made with 100% eco certified ingredients, is vegan, biodegradable and allergen, gluten and GMO free.  In addition, it is free from SLS, sulphates and parabens making it efficient and environmentally friendly for CLARITY’s customers. Care has gone into the selection of each and every ingredient.

The foaming hand wash uses just 20% of the dosage compared to the liquid alternative so will last five times as long.  Studies1 have found that foaming technology reduces the amount of water used by almost 10% whilst increasing the likelihood that individuals will wash their hands; promoting good hand hygiene.

The hand wash has been developed as a Buy Social Corporate Challenge product, an initiative from Social Enterprise UK, which Interserve is a partner of and the Cabinet Office supports. It aims to get businesses to spend £1 billion with social enterprises, such as CLARITY, by 2020. This hand wash makes it easy to switch your soap for social good.

Large corporations and Buy Social Corporate Challenge partners are planning to support the initiative by purchasing the hand wash, whilst several government departments are also set to switch to the new CLARITY range.

The hand wash is the first in CLARITY’s new environmentally friendly range – CLARITYeco. All the products in this range are being created with the environment at the forefront of the design process and will use natural, cruelty and paraben/SLS free ingredients.

Camilla Marcus-Dew, Head of Commercial at CLARITY said: “We are delighted to launch our new eco foaming hand wash with the support of our Buy Social Corporate Challenge partners. The result is an environmentally friendly product which will be loved by all employees, customers and visitors. It has secured employment for our staff, creating social value in many communities across the UK. We look forward to rolling it out to other Government departments and corporations.”

Richard Beattie, Director of Procurement at Interserve said: “At Interserve, we take our sustainability responsibilities very seriously – both from an environmental and social capital perspective. So, we are really pleased to be working with the CLARITY team to bring the first Buy Social Corporate Challenge product to market. This new product strengthens CLARITY’s offering by combining social impact and eco-friendly credentials – it’s a great product which I’m sure our clients will love.”

Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK said: “This is a fantastic example of what’s possible when the public, private and social enterprise sectors collaborate to bring a commercial solution to market that will change the lives of disabled people. The Cabinet Office were a founding strategic partner of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, so it’s great to see them “walking the walk” through buying from social enterprises themselves. We’d like to now see other government departments, as well as more businesses, follow in their footsteps.”


Recognising social enterprise excellence in Higher Education

Three UK Higher Education Institutions have become the latest organisations to be awarded the prestigious Social Enterprise Gold Mark, in recognition of their social enterprise excellence.

Plymouth College of Art, The University of Northampton and the University of Winchester join a growing network of gold standard social enterprises, which have proven their commitment to creating lasting positive impact on people and planet, through their trading operations.

Following a rigorous assessment process, the Social Enterprise Gold Mark awards were presented at our annual conference in Winchester on Monday 5th June. The awards were presented by James Evans, who is a member of the independent Certification Panel, which upholds the rigour of the assessment process and oversees the process of applications and assessments. The panel has the final decision on all applications for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark offers enhanced accreditation to social enterprises wishing to demonstrate their excellence, assessing three essential areas of business operations:

  • Governance – stakeholder representation in strategy and operation
  • Business ethics – complaints handling, diversity, equality, pay, workplace issues and social auditing
  • Social impact and financial transparency – how income and profits are used to create added social and environmental impact

The accreditation focuses on measuring what makes a social enterprise excellent, and how they can continue to improve their impact. Successful applicants receive an individually tailored action plan for continuous improvement, in line with guidelines of best practice.

Hannah Harris, Director of Development, and Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal and Chief Executive of Plymouth College of Art, with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark award

Hannah Harris, Director of Development, and Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal and Chief Executive of Plymouth College of Art, with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark award (Photo credit: Dom Moore)

Professor Andrew Brewerton, Plymouth College of Art’s Principal and Chief Executive said: “Creative learning is transformational: in terms of individual lives, the life of our community and its prosperity within the UK’s world-leading creative economy. The work of our staff and students at Plymouth College of Art and at The Red House, home to Plymouth School of Creative Arts, is deeply embedded in our community, and we feel honoured and delighted that this commitment over many years has been recognised with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. This is in truth an acknowledgement of our community as a whole, and everybody across our networks of social engagement in Plymouth as a Social Enterprise City.”

Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton receiving the Social Enterprise Gold Mark from James Evans

Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton receiving the Social Enterprise Gold Mark from James Evans

Wray Irwin, Head of University Centre for Employability and Engagement at The University of Northampton, said: “Northampton leads the charge when it comes to learning that makes an impact on society. Our whole way of working reflects this; making a difference is in our DNA. Receiving professional recognition for this is great news, but the Social Enterprise Gold Mark in particular is testament to the dedication at Northampton, from students and staff alike to ‘do good things’ in the world beyond university. It goes without saying that the award really belongs to all of them. We all look forward to continuing on this path in the months and years ahead.”

Professor Joy Carter of University of Winchester receiving Social Enterprise Gold Mark from Lucy Findlay

Professor Joy Carter of University of Winchester receiving Social Enterprise Gold Mark from Lucy Findlay

Professor Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor at The University of Winchester, said: “As a values-driven university, all we do is closely aligned to the Social Enterprise Gold Mark priorities. From divesting our fossil fuel linked investments, our pioneering work with care leavers and others who are underrepresented in higher education, through to our world-leading research in peace and reconciliation, we are a university driven by a passion to make a difference. Big ideas, growing flourishing people and communities, being the difference for a better world. So we are delighted to have the Social Enterprise Gold Mark to help us both communicate our unique focus and priorities, as well as to be continuously challenged.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, added: “We are delighted to welcome these organisations to our expanding network of ‘gold standard’ social enterprises. We have seen an increasing interest from the Higher Education sector over the last 12 months, which is an encouraging development, as it symbolises a commitment to creating social change, for which such institutions have a huge potential scope to achieve.”

Please click here for more information about the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

Ealing Community Transport named Making a Mark competition winners

Ealing Community Transport, part of national charity ECT, was named as the winner of the 2017 Social Enterprise Mark CIC ‘Making a Mark’ competition at a celebration at our recent conference in Winchester. They were presented with a special award, created for us by Designs in Mind*, a social enterprise studio of designer makers who have been referred through mental health services.

Becky Casement of ECT accepting the Making a Mark competition award from James Evans

Becky Casement of ECT accepting the Making a Mark competition award from James Evans

This is the second year of the Making a Mark competition; a celebration of the vast and diverse social benefits created by Social Enterprise Mark holders, which highlights interesting examples of how accredited social enterprises are creating considerable social impact within their local communities and in wider society.

We invited James Evans of the Certification Panel to present the award, which was accepted by Becky Casement from Ealing Community Transport. James commended all the finalists on their achievements and congratulated them on making the shortlist, before presenting certificates to all the finalists who were in attendance at the conference.

Anna Whitty MBE, Chief Executive of ECT Charity, said: “We are thrilled to have been named as the winners of this year’s Making a Mark competition for our continued work to measure our social impact. We are committed to providing high quality, safe, friendly, accessible and affordable transport in local communities, so it’s really important that we can measure how well we are achieving these aims and what difference it makes.”

“In the last year alone ECT Charity has enabled more than 98,000 passenger trips for individuals and more than 60,000 group trips for over 400 community groups. We have also been able to calculate our social impact using our recently developed methodology. It allows us to demonstrate that in the past year ECT’s charitable activities have had a social value of £1.3 million; in the London Borough of Ealing alone, community transport could save up to £4.1 million annually by reducing isolation and loneliness. We are incredibly proud of these achievements and would like to thank Social Enterprise Mark CIC for their recognition of our work in this award.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, said, “We are delighted to announce the long standing Social Enterprise Mark holder Ealing Community Transport as the 2017 ‘Making a Mark’ competition winners. They won because of their ability to demonstrate their social impact across a wide range of groups, including helping overcome social isolation. They clearly demonstrate social impact created for individuals using the transport, as well as contributing to the sustainability of local community groups. Well done to Anna and the whole ECT team.”

Selected from the diverse international network of accredited social enterprises, Ealing Community Transport was shortlisted alongside 6 other organisations, including The Big Issue Group and Epic CIC, which was named as the runner up. The competition shortlist was subject to a public vote and a separate vote by the independent Certification Panel, both of which accounted for 50% of the final result.

Maxine Willetts of Epic CIC accepting runner up certificate Making a Mark competition

Maxine Willetts of Epic CIC accepting runner up certificate for the Making a Mark competition

Nigel Kershaw of Big Issue Group with James Evans and Big Issue vendor Kevin Collick

Nigel Kershaw of Big Issue Group with James Evans and Big Issue vendor Kevin Collick

We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the competition finalists:

  • Connection Crew
  • Ealing Community Transport
  • Emmaus Cambridge
  • Epic CIC
  • South Shropshire Furniture Scheme
  • The Big Issue Group
  • Warrington Health Plus CIC


*Designs in Mind design and make products, working in textiles, wood, wire and glass. Through their work they aim to challenge mental health stigma and the predominant culture of low expectation which surrounds their designer makers, all of whom are adults referred through mental health services.

The Making a Mark award was created by a team of designer makers, including Amy, who explains her journey at Designs in Mind in this blog post. As a result of working on this award, Amy is now volunteering for Designs in Mind in public screen printing workshops.

Please click here to find out more about Designs in Mind.

Big Society Capital invests a further £2.5 million in Charity Bank

Charity Bank announces strong start to the year as Big Society Capital invests a further £2.5 million

Big Society Capital has invested £2.5 million in the share capital of Social Enterprise Mark holder Charity Bank and has committed in principle to invest a further £2.5 millionon or before 1st December 2017. This will complete Big Society Capital’s pledge in March 2014 to invest up to £14.5 million in ordinary shares of Charity Bank.

Charity Bank, the ethical bank that uses savings to make loans to charities and social enterprises, has lent over £180 million since 2002. Charity Bank is run for the sector and owned by the sector, as all of its shareholders are charitable trusts, foundations and social purpose organisations. This further investment from Big Society Capital will allow it to make more loans to social sector organisations in the coming years.

This investment is made as Charity Bank experiences continued growth. Charity Bank has had a strong start to the year with £28 million of new loan approvals in the first five months of 2017. This continues the momentum since Big Society Capital’s initial investment in 2014, with the loan book growing by over 25% per year in the two years to 31st December 2016.

George Blunden, Chairman of Charity Bank, says: “These further injections of capital from Big Society Capital will enable us to meet the growing demand for loans from charities and social enterprises.”

“Share capital is vital to our mission. It underpins the bank and enables us to leverage our savers’ money. An investment in Charity Bank creates a multiple effect – for every £1 of share capital invested we can lend £8 to help create lasting social change in our communities.”

“When Big Society Capital pledged its original investment, we said that we hoped it would be the first of a small number of significant new investors over the next five to ten years. The Mercers Charitable Foundation invested a further £1 million in 2015 and the Barrow Cadbury Trust invested £250,000 in 2016.”

“We are inviting other charitable trusts, foundations and social purpose organisations to invest in our share capital and join with us in using the tools of finance to create a better society for all.”

Anna Shiel, Head of Origination of Big Society Capital says: Big Society Capital’s investment in Charity Bank plays an important role in making capital available to small and medium sized charities. Over 850 loans have now been made to organisations totalling more than £180m. These loans have helped support people all around the UK, with 97% of organisations saying it has contributed to achieving their mission and 68% saying the loan helped them to expand their services. Upon the completion of our investment, we look forward to seeing more people and communities supported by their work.”

Patrick Crawford, Chief Executive of Charity Bank, says: “The stable quality and growing size of our loan book demonstrate that loans can be an important and effective tool for social sector organisations seeking to make a bigger difference to the world around them.”

“In the face of a shifting political, social and economic outlook, one thing is certain: the social sector will continue to play a vital role in addressing the needs of communities across the UK. At Charity Bank, we have the resource and capacity to play our part. We are here to help charities and social enterprises adapt, take advantage of new opportunities and create a better world.”

A team from Linklaters led by Aisling Zarraga and Rebecca Rigby acted on a pro-bono basis for Charity Bank, supporting its General Counsel in advising the Board on Big Society Capital’s investment. Linklaters has contributed over 1,000 hours of specialist legal advice to Charity Bank over the past four years.

Dominic Ellison BCHAs new Head of Commercial and Social Enterprise

New Head of Commercial and Social Enterprise plans to turnover a New Leaf at BCHA

BCHA, the Bournemouth-based specialist housing and support provider, has announced the appointment of Dominic Ellison as the Head of Commercial and Social Enterprise at group member and Social Enterprise Mark holder The New Leaf Company, based at The Factory on Alder Hills in Poole, Dorset.

Dominic’s role combines developing The Factory to become a co-working hub and centre of social enterprise excellence, as well as overseeing New Leaf Repairs and BCHA’s Employability and Skills programmes

Before moving to the South Coast in April, Dominic has been leading social enterprises for over 13 years and for much of that providing development support to co-operatives and social enterprises in London and across the world. He started his social enterprise career managing a café, bar and restaurant across a busy publicly-funded Theatre and Arts centre in London, having previously enjoyed success in this part of the hospitality industry in the private sector.

Commenting on his appointment, Dominic said, “I am really thrilled at joining New Leaf and the wider BCHA team to create an exciting new centre, servicing the needs of a thriving social enterprise movement in the local area.”

In his last role as CEO of Hackney Co-operative Developments, Dominic developed a high-profile social enterprise development programme to support the growth social economy in Hackney, as well supporting wider economic growth in East London through the provision and development of a large portfolio of commercial workspace. He is also a Trustee/Director of Locality UK.

Martin Hancock, CEO at BCHA, added, “We are delighted to have a true social entrepreneur and co-operative development expert join our leadership team and bring his experience of successful business development and innovation down to the South West.”

For more information on New Leaf visit

L to R - Cardine Hall, Sarah Cooke, Ginene Bufton, Michelle Hirst, Stefan Laird, Ruth Barnes, Katarina Neilsson, Jo Lawley

New planters at Shropshire GP surgery made by patients with mental health challenges

Mental health patients of a GP surgery in South Shropshire have helped make new community planters to improve the building. The planters were made by people with depression, anxiety and other issues and have been put outside the surgery in Station Road, Ludlow.

The craftsmen and women were referred by MIND or GPs to the carpentry workshop, run by Social Enterprise Mark holder The Furniture Scheme in Lower Galdeford.

Dr Caron Morton, PR partner at the practice said the whole project has been a huge success. She said: “We wanted to do something different, we wanted to see if it could be made by local people, preferably by our patients. People can drive or walk past and say ‘I helped to make that.”

“It is about community and GP practices supporting local people, it has been great to work with The Furniture Scheme and I hope it starts other businesses thinking about what they can do to get involved in the community.”

The planters contain herbs such as lavender, hot and spicy oregano, thyme, marjoram, strawberry mint, french tarragon, sage and rosemary. Dr Morton said this was to help people learn more about what goes into their food and encourage young people to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The doctors will be providing scissors for young people to take a cutting and use at home and plan to install a bench, working towards a sensory garden. The planters are so large they had to be dismantled at the workshop and then rebuilt outside the surgery.

Stefan Laird, Carpentry Workshop Supervisor, helped to guide the patients through the build and said it was a good project. He said: “One person needed to be shown where to go and wouldn’t go into the workshop on their own at first. But after four weeks they got a job. It has been great to share my skills with a new set of people once again.”

The Furniture Scheme was launched over 20 years ago as a way to ensure some of the most excluded members of the community could benefit from recycled household items. It now runs Rockspring Community Centre in Sandford Road, Ludlow, and the Craven Arms Community Centre in Newington Way, Craven Arms. Activities include computer courses, carpentry workshops, volunteering in the garden, a holiday scheme for young people, weekly community lunches and a choir.

The planters project was funded by Bupa, and Jean Jarvis MBE, Chief Executive of The Furniture Scheme, said working with people with mental health challenges is a large part of what they do. “People get referred to us through doctors and agencies but can self refer too. You could just walk in to one of our centres and we will do what we can to help.

“Our members are taught skills and through this they gain confidence and self esteem and can lead fuller lives. This is just one of a number of community projects we have done, in the past we have created planters for Ludlow in Bloom, provided new furniture for local pubs as well as restore their furniture already there and we have done work with Ludlow College for five years, upcycling furniture with design students.”

Visit or call 01584 874922 for more information about the charity.

Nursing recruitment day at John Taylor Hospice

Social Enterprise Mark holder John Taylor Hospice is holding an open day on Friday 9th June for Registered General Nurses interested in joining the team.

The open day is a chance for nurses to learn more about current job vacancies at John Taylor, take a tour of the hospice and speak to existing clinical staff. There will also be an opportunity to interview on the day.

“We have exciting opportunities available for nurses,” explains Modern Matron Gale Clarke. “If you’d like to come to our open event to find out more there’s no need to make an appointment – just pop in and see us between 10:30am and 8:30pm on 9 June. We’re a friendly, welcoming and supportive team and we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have.”

Today more than 600 people and their families will receive the care they need from John Taylor Hospice. That may be 24-hour care at the hospice in Erdington, support at their home, in the day hospice, counselling and well-being and a range of specialist services including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy and complementary therapies.

“We’ve cared for generations of families when they’ve needed us most, providing high quality and compassionate care,” added Gale. “Our patients are at the heart of everything we do. If this sounds like a team you’d like to be a part of then please drop by to speak to us.”

For more information visit, view the short film below, or email [email protected]

Have we forgotten to ask how we can BE and DO better?

By Caroline Bartle, Managing Director of 3 Spirit UK

I started to write this blog at the start of the year. Normally this is a time most people take stock and ask how can we BE and DO better?  However, within our social care sector, this reappraisal is not new, but rather ongoing, and insidious.  We are constantly being asked, how we can DO better. For many services this has resulted in cutting back, and prioritising profitability.

However, what is the impact of this?  Is there a hidden cost of dwindling social care funding, creating highly competitive, low cost, low value services? Has this disproportionate focus on the turning a profit  taken us away from more ethical aspects of our work, as we forget to ask how can we BE better? Surely the test of how we can ‘BE’ better as a social care service lies within the ‘social impact’ that we have, not in the profit that we accrue.

About twenty years ago after a relatively short career in social work I became a proprietor of a social care business at the age of 27, and when I look back over the last two decades I see the factor which drove me to business was the freedom to BE the person that I wanted to be. Because of this, I get immense pleasure from my work, and my collaborations. I spend time working with the individuals that I chose, and I have the opportunities to learn about, and develop what I determine as critical, interesting and applicable. I am motivated, engaged and free to be innovative. My values are at the heart of my business, sometimes at the expense of profit.  Over the years my values have evolved. As a young entrepreneur, I was always interested in creating and sharing, however now I am more concerned about how these collaborations impact on our communities, collectively and positively.

Despite being a ‘for profit’ organisation, we shared our resources, widely and openly (with no material gain), and attempted to reach out to individuals and organisations through our work. Whilst we have had many supporters, we have also been met with some alarming responses: individuals proactively unfollowed us, and actively excluded us. It was disappointing and deeply demotivating. There appears to be a lack of trust in our sector: driven possibly by competitive, anti-collective forces.   Consider though what the possibilities might be for our sector if we are able to foster trust, and build alliances beyond the competitive limitations of market forces. What if we all shared common goals, the communities that we serve? What if there was a less of a ‘me’ mentality and more of an ‘us’?

The growth of a market was stimulated, in part with the introduction of the Community Care Act, and has relied on competitive forces, creating best value. However, how effectively does this model work now, in this current climate?

In 2012 the government introduced the Public Services (Social Value) Act in an attempt to get commissioners to consider the social impact of their buying power. However, this only applies to high value contracts. So what of all the other services, or individuals, purchasing services in their community? Whilst these services are regulated by the CQC, many are driven by profit, and may not always be making their decisions in the interests of ALL of their stakeholders.  If we are to really make a ‘shared society’ work, should we not ‘expect’ that social enterprises are afforded preferential treatment at a local buyer level? In 2015 there was a review of the implementation of the Social Value Act, suggesting that the Act be extended to contracts below the public spend threshold. It is my view this could be extended further than suggested.

In the healthcare market we have already seen many services become social enterprises. Health has long had an expectation that it should service all stakeholders, as since the introduction of the NHS, it has been free at the point of delivery.

However, that is not the case for social care: the expectation remains that many providers maintain a ‘for profit’ status. Many business minded individuals identify opportunities in a growth market, particularly in the community, where there is a growing need to support individuals with more complex levels of care. The question is – how sustainable is this in the current market? Does the social enterprise model work better in this climate, and if so – should commissioners consider this as part of their market shaping strategy as part of a long term goal for smaller, as well as large organisations? Could this be applied across all types of services, particularly training services like us, whom should be embodying an example, as advocates of ‘best practice’.

So, what are your driving values as a proprietor? To make a profit or make a difference? Whilst on the face of it, it may be a little more complex than that, determining the overriding priorities will help to properly focus priorities on outcomes. As an education provider in social care, we aim to buck the trend, and embody this change.

Social enterprise  is a more comfortable fit for us: synergy with stakeholder expectations and our activities. Through raising awareness, we aim to provide better insights into the experience and needs of the individuals we support in the social care sector.  From a business perspective, it seems to make sense, as it is through trading that we may have a bigger impact in society.

Molly shaves her head for a cause close to home

A Birmingham teenager has shaved off her hair to raise money for Social Enterprise Mark holder John Taylor Hospice, which cared for her great-grandfather.

Fifteen-year-old Molly Harrison from Erdington has raised over £800 for John Taylor Hospice as a thank you for the care and support provided for her family. Molly was only four years old when her great-grandfather George Harrison was cared for in the hospice’s In-Patient Unit in 2006.

“The hospice took such good care of him and I wanted to do this for them to show how much it means to me and my family,” explains Molly who is a student at Erdington Academy. “I feel really proud to have raised £808 – I didn’t think I’d make that much! I’d like to say thank you to everyone who sponsored me.”

Her bold fundraising challenge took place in front of an audience at Kingstanding Ex-Servicemen’s Club – somewhere George was a familiar face. Cheered on by family and friends Molly’s dad Mark shaved off her long brunette locks to raise vital funds for their local hospice.

Molly’s mum Sally Harrison said she clearly remembers the day that her daughter decided to do something special to raise money for the hospice.

“When she was about nine her school, Firs Primary, held a cake sale in aid of John Taylor Hospice,” recalls mum-of-four Sally.

“A member of hospice staff went to collect the cheque and spoke to the children about fundraising to help their local community. Molly came out of school that day and asked me if the hospice was where we went to visit grandad. When I said yes she told me she wanted to do something to help them.”

The hospice provides specialist palliative and end of life care for people living with a terminal illness and their families and relies heavily upon public donations.

Sally added: “Hospice staff just couldn’t do enough for me and my family. We could visit at any time and were even able to stay overnight and bring grandad his favourite takeaway food! It felt like a home from home and we’re so thankful that they supported us to make the most of our precious time together. We’re full of pride for Molly and think it’s amazing that she has done this to help families just like ours.”

Molly will be donating her hair to children’s cancer charity Little Princess Trust who provide real hair wigs, free of charge, to children across the UK and Ireland that have lost their own hair through cancer treatment.

John Taylor’s Head of Fundraising Katie Mitchell said: “Molly is simply an amazing fundraiser! We are full of admiration for her and so grateful to everyone that backed her fundraising efforts. Our supporters go to great lengths to raise money for us and we can’t thank them enough for their kindness and generosity.”

See below for a video of Molly’s headshave:

Find out how you can get involved in fundraising for John Taylor Hospice by visiting

Visionary device scoops £20k award

An innovative device, which will improve the quality of life of thousands of people with double vision, has received £20,000 after winning a top award.

Social Enterprise Mark holder The Beacon Centre and University of Wolverhampton joined forces to offer the 2017 Beacon Visionary+ Challenge Award. The winner of the award has been announced as the Lens Slip Occluder, which was developed by Burton-on-Trent company DHC Informatics Ltd.

The revolutionary Lens Slip Occluder has been developed primarily to treat and alleviate diplopia (double vision) but it can also be effective in the treatment of visual disturbance caused by such conditions as multiple sclerosis, stroke, head injury, cataracts and glaucoma. It is an optical device worn over a pair of glasses to improve vision when reading books, magazines or newspapers, watching television or using a computer.

The award consists of £10,000 social investment from Beacon and £10,000 worth of consultancy support from the University of Wolverhampton. The winner was chosen from a shortlist by a panel of leading tech entrepreneurs and sight loss experts, chaired by Dr Stephen Fear, the ‘phonebox millionaire’.

DHC Informatics’ Director Rebecca Harrison said: “Diplopia is one of the most common vision disorder in the UK today.  There are over 100,000 MS sufferers and over 150,000 people suffer a stroke each year, more than half of whom will experience problems with diplopia or blurred vision.

“Occlusion is one of the first line treatments recommended by the RNIB, NHS and MS Society.”

DHC Informatics was supported through development of the new product concept by the Innovative Product Support Service (iPSS), which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is available to small companies across the West Midlands Region.

Professor Andrew Pollard, iPSS Project Director at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We were delighted to see the design work carried out by the iPSS team lead on to such great recognition for DHC, and it demonstrates once again that there is always room for innovation.”

In making the award, Arwyn Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Beacon, said:  “We were particularly impressed with the presentation from DHC and the fact that their new product can quickly get to market and benefit people with double vision disorders. Beacon is delighted that the competition prize will be used to help the business move forward and develop new products. Our investment has inspired an innovative sensory solution that delivers on the aims of the charity.”

Rebecca Harrison of DHC Informatics added: “The design help we received from iPSS was fantastic and we are delighted that we will now be able to carry out further research and development at the University of Wolverhampton having won the Beacon prize.”

Royal Voluntary Service offers healthier choices for food shopping in hospitals

Social Enterprise Mark holder Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) is leading the way in providing healthier choices within hospital retail, with the newly launched Shop & Co; a modern convenience store providing healthier eating options in Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride.

This is the next step in the transformation of RVS retail outlets to provide a modern shopping experience incorporating Healthier Choices. Significant changes have been made this year to the range and promotions across all outlets. All of its Scottish stores have now achieved the Healthcare Retail Standard (making RVS the first multiple outlet retailer to achieve this) and all of sites in England and Wales have met the NHS England CQUIN requirements.

The first Shop & Co was officially opened on 20th March by Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Donald Cameron. He said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been asked to open the new Shop & Co at Hairmyres hospital.  People go to hospital to recover from illness and injury, and the ability to access healthier food complements the recovery process.  I wholeheartedly welcome the approach being taken by Royal Voluntary Service to increase its range of low fat, low calorie and gluten free options, as well as its focus on offering more fruit to promote the ‘1 of your 5 a day’ campaign and ultimately doing a significant amount in making our hospitals healthier places for patients, staff and visitors.”

Busy shift patterns don’t always make it easy for NHS staff in Scottish hospitals to eat, drink and shop healthily.  Research by Royal Voluntary Service found that one in seven (14%) Scottish NHS doctors and nurses admitted they have a poor diet and three quarters (74%) wanted to see healthier options introduced into their hospital workplace. The charity is committed to changing the face of hospital retail by improving and increasing the range of healthy food and drink choices available, and has earned Government praise for its efforts.  It was the first hospital retailer to achieve the Healthcare Retail Standard (HRS), part of the Scottish Government’s health promotion framework for healthcare buildings, and will achieve the standard across its entire Scottish retail estate ahead of mandatory introduction at the end of March.

Last October, Royal Voluntary Service Revitalise was launched, the first health-focused dietary-specific hospital shop at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.  Shop & Co at Hairmyres Hospital will feature a Royal Voluntary Service Revitalise concession, selling healthier products that meet strict nutritional criteria as well as those that meet particular dietary needs. The concession will offer a range of gluten-free products, alongside healthy snacks and lunch offers.  Clear signage and labeling will enable customers to make healthier choices and to find food and drinks that meet their dietary requirements.

Since launching Healthier Choices ranges in Scotland, RVS has noticed significant changes in customer behaviour as shown on the graphic below:

Shop & Co is run by local staff and volunteers from Royal Voluntary Service, the older people’s charity.  The hospital shop’s team of friendly, trained volunteers, many of them aged over 70, also signpost services available to older people in the local community.

Royal Voluntary Service Chief Executive David McCullough said: “For far too long hospitals have not been the most healthy places to buy food and drink, which can’t be right when we consider many of the diseases they treat.  We know that NHS staff working in hospitals in Scotland find it difficult to make the healthy choices they want, which is why we decided it was important that we take an early lead on NHS workforce health reform.  The opening of Shop & Co at Hairmyres is the next step in the transformation of our retail outlets to provide a modern shopping experience incorporating Healthier Choices.  These are exciting and important developments in hospital retail and are already making a difference.  The changes we are making in range and environment make us the NHS retailer of choice.  We look forward to working with many more commissioners and hospital partners to ensure that the retail experience within their hospital settings is a healthy – and tasty – one.”

For more information about Shop & Co, visit


New Digital Marketing apprenticeship scheme with top Devon employers

Social Enterprise Mark holder Cosmic is an advocate when it comes to apprenticeships. They took on their very first apprentice, Ben, in 1998 and he is still a valued member of the team. Since that time, apprenticeships have changed and Cosmic has evolved their offering to suit the needs of those looking for this type of work.

In 2013, Cosmic secured funding to run their very own digital apprenticeship programme, which saw them employ six young people and gave the opportunity to provide them with a wealth of digital knowledge. The apprenticeship enabled these young people to work on a variety of areas within the business. This includes website design and development, technical support, digital marketing and training; as well as the opportunity to gain placements with a number of partners, including Mole Valley Farmers, Yarlington Housing and Eloquent Technologies.

Since then, Cosmic has been working with the Exeter and Heart of Devon employment and skills board to look at different ways in which we can offer apprenticeships. We are all aware that there is currently a skills shortage within the digital sector. Many organisations recognise the need for digital within their businesses, but do not have the expertise to support these roles or do not need these roles on a full-time basis. With this in mind, Cosmic has designed an apprenticeship model which allows other organisations to benefit from Cosmic’s digital skills and offers a more flexible approach. They have called it the ‘Carousel Apprenticeship’.

In 2016, Cosmic held talks with several members of the Exeter and Heart of Devon employment and skills board around this approach and it was agreed to move forwards with two other employers: The Deer Park Hotel and River Cottage.

So how does it work? Cosmic have employed a digital marketing apprentice; Gemma Spencer, who began the new programme in February 2017. Gemma attends college for 1 day a week and works at Cosmic for 1 day a week. During that time, she focuses on learning a range of digital marketing skills. She then works 1 day at the Deer Park Hotel and 2 days at River Cottage, allowing her to apply her learning to different organisations. The businesses benefit from a skilled digital apprentice and Gemma benefits from a wide range of learning through a number of organisations.

Already, Gemma is embracing the new way of working and has grasped the opportunity with both hands. She says, “I am looking forward to this new type of apprenticeship.  Being able to work with different companies such as Cosmic, The Deer Park and River Cottage is a fantastic opportunity, giving me the chance to build strong relationships and gain as much experience as possible. One of the things I am looking forward to the most is being able to experience different working platforms, and interacting with so many different people. This will teach me to keep an open mind and have multiple perspectives for each company and their brand. Every day in the week will be something new with different surroundings and I’m more than excited for the opportunity”.

Cosmic joint CEO Julie Hawker said, “Cosmic has for many years made a major commitment to its own apprenticeship programme, and has offered new opportunities and employment to local young people. This new initiative to share our passion and commitment, as well as employment of apprentices with other local employers, is a fantastic development and one which we look forward to replicating many times in the years ahead.”

Managing Director of the Deer Park, Mark Godfrey advised “Deer Park are committed to the apprenticeship scheme and are proud of what we have achieved with our partners; River Cottage, Bicton College and Exeter College. We have had 6 apprentices working with us in the last 4 years and it’s great to see them all develop and move up the employment ladder with good qualifications.

We have been lucky enough to have apprentices from Bicton in our garden department growing produce for our River Cottage apprentices to cook for our 2 Rosette restaurant served by our Front of House apprentice from Exeter College. Now that’s a great example of plot to plate and growing your own!

And now working with Cosmic and River Cottage we have the great opportunity to have a Digital Marketing Apprentice working with us one day a week under a newly developed Carousel scheme, a fantastic opportunity for Gemma.”

All partners are delighted to be running this new programme and cannot wait to report on the programme at the end of 18th month scheme. Cosmic is extremely proud of the apprenticeships they have offered over the last 19 years. They will continue to look for new innovative ways in which to reduce the skills gap and enable other organisations to embrace technology through apprenticeships.

The most rewarding ISA in the world?

The British public wants banks to lend to organisations and projects that benefit society, but most people do not know what happens to their savings while they are deposited with their bank.

This is one of the findings of a new piece of research conducted by Social Enterprise Mark holder Charity Bank, the ethical bank with a mission to use money for good, as it launches its campaign and film to persuade the public to transfer their Cash ISA to an ethical provider.

Charity Bank commissioned Opinium to research the attitudes of the general public towards various aspects of banking. This research found that:

  • 74% of the British public don’t know how the money they save in their bank is being used or invested;
  • 71% would like their bank to make it clearer where their money is invested;
  • 56% would like to be an offered an ethical option when choosing a savings account; and
  • 61% would consider opening a savings account that paid a fair rate of interest and lent money to charities and other good causes.

Patrick Crawford, Charity Bank’s Chief Executive, said, “People don’t know what banks do with their money but the findings tell us that there is an appetite to find out and that people would like their savings to be used for good causes.

“Wherever it’s invested, money takes a journey. This might be around the globe, around the big banks or on the stock markets. Sometimes it does good along the way; sometimes it doesn’t.

“When you open a Cash ISA with Charity Bank, we give you a fair rate of interest, whilst making sure your money takes a shorter journey. It spends less time travelling and is invested directly in charities and projects that benefit people across the UK.

“At Charity Bank we are transparent about the organisations to which we lend, sharing stories of change and social impact data from the charities and social enterprises that we support. This is why we think our ISA might just be the most rewarding Cash ISA in the world.”

Details of Charity Bank’s Ethical 33-Day Notice Cash ISA:

  • 0.90% Gross/AER;
  • Up to £15,240 a year (2016/17 tax year allowance) can be saved;
  • Open to transfers-in from current ISA managers;
  • Minimum opening balance of £250;
  • 33-day notice period; and
  • Available to UK residents aged 16 and over.

For full details visit the campaign page.

Rachel Wang Nominated for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards

Rachel Wang FRSA, a black business leader and social entrepreneur from Wandsworth, has been nominated for the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award at The National Diversity Awards 2017.

The Breathtaking Liverpool Anglican Cathedral will play host to this year’s awards, to be held on 8th September. Britain’s most inspirational and selfless people will come together to honour the rich tapestry of our nation, recognising individuals and groups from grass-roots communities. The prestigious black tie event recognises nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.

Rachel Wang is an award-winning Black British filmmaker with fifteen years experience producing digital content for museums and galleries. Rachel is the founder of Social Enterprise Mark holder Chocolate Films, a video production company based in Battersea, where she oversees the production of factual content for a wide range of clients including The National Gallery, TATE, Museum of London, IoD, National Autism Society, Facebook and Arup.

Rachel set up Chocolate Films as a not-for-profit social enterprise that runs an extensive outreach programme alongside its film production services. Chocolate Films Workshops offers opportunities and training in media to over 2000 disadvantaged young people every year. Rachel is also the Creative Director of the largest documentary series ever made about a city –, a community cohesion project that celebrates the diversity of the capital.

The National Diversity Awards receives over 20,000 nominations and votes annually. Founder & CEO Paul Sesay said, “Unlocking Britain’s diverse talent and rewarding unsung champions remains at the heart of these awards. As we enter our 6th year, I know there are still so many game changers who remain unnoticed and unheard. We aim to provide a platform for those who have the passion and determination to spread the positive message of inclusivity. I look forward to learning about this year’s nominees and witnessing their spectacular journeys.”

Nominations are now open and close 9th June 2017 – so don’t miss out on your chance to get involved! Shortlisted nominees will be announced shortly after this date. To nominate Rachel Wang please visit, or for a nomination form please email [email protected].

Cockpit Arts logo

Cockpit Arts – ‘Cockpit Effect’ Report

Makers’ engagement with Cockpit Arts’ Business Incubation equals greater success

Social Enterprise Mark holder Cockpit Arts has recently published its Cockpit Effect Report on the growth and development of craft businesses based at their two business incubation centres in London.

Having celebrated their 30th Anniversary year in 2016 and reflected on the evolution of the business, they are now fully focused on the future. The celebration of Craft and Makers, alongside addressing of the question, ‘Why does an organisation like Cockpit Arts exist and what is its purpose?’ will still continue, since this is the question they continually ask themselves in order to respond effectively to makers changing needs. However, at the same time they will also examine the effect of what they do.

Key findings

The annual Cockpit Effect Report is based on Partnership Reviews conducted with makers at Cockpit Arts during the 12 months to October 2016. These reviews captured data for the two preceding years, allowing a comparison to previous Cockpit Effect reports and to any external reports.

  • The Cockpit Effect Report 2017 highlights that the greatest possible impact – financial, social and cultural – is generated by makers who engage the most in Cockpit Arts’ Business Incubation services.
  • Financial performance: Looking at the group as a whole, the results are very positive. Average turnover rose by 14% from 2013/14 to 2014/15 and at £58,099 for 2014/15 is nearly double that reported in 2010. This is also significantly higher than the average craft business related income of £19,827 reported by the Craft Council in 2012. Average profit for 2014/15 was £14,004, 47% higher than 2010.
  • Cultural Achievements: The non-financial cultural based data collected for the whole group was also encouraging, with many makers reporting gaining major stockists (24%); being featured in a major publication (26%); securing grant or funding support (18%) and being selected for a major selling event (35%).
  • Social Impact: The Partnership Reviews ask makers about major changes within their businesses: The two most cited changes are improved profile (45%) and improved web/social presence (51%).
  • Employment: As a group, makers’ contribution to employment continues to be significant. Just under 10% of makers directly employ on a PAYE basis (the same level reported in our previous Cockpit Effect) whilst 61 (54%) either employ freelancers or outsource part or all of their production. Commitment to entry level employment is high, with 27% taking on interns and 8% offering places to apprentices. This demonstrates the effectiveness of the support provided by Cockpit Arts’ Creative Employment Programme.
  • Engagement: Where engagement with the Business Incubation team is greater, the results are better, as evidenced by the makers featured as Maker Stories. Read more below.
  • Awards & Bursaries: Makers joining as part of an Award or Bursary programme need a rigorous framework to ensure the best possible outcomes within the duration of their short term award. Those who do engage fully with the business incubation offer show the best results.

The Cockpit Effect 2017 findings will be taken into account as Cockpit Arts evolve their incubation offer for the future and consider options for further expansion. In the meantime, they are committed to communicating makers’ successes more widely: they believe that individual successes they may be, but collectively they have the power to affect the Craft sector as a whole by influencing and inspiring others.

The full report can be viewed on the Cockpit Arts website.

Hospice asks communities to care for a cuppa this April

Social Enterprise Mark holder John Taylor Hospice is asking people to pop the kettle on and host their own fundraising event in support of local families. During Coffee Morning Month in April the hospice is asking supporters to get together for a cuppa and a piece of cake to raise funds for people living with a terminal illness and their families.

Sian Averill, Community Fundraising Manager at John Taylor Hospice, said: “Inviting friends and family to join you for a cuppa, cake and a chat is an enjoyable way to raise money for a great cause. You could even choose a theme to make it more fun – just like we did with our vintage tea party here at the hospice.”

“We’re really excited about Coffee Morning Month as it’s a new addition to our fundraising calendar. Every cake baked and every coffee sold by our supporters will help to ensure we’re here for local families when they need us.”

Diane O’Connor and her family have raised hundreds of pounds for John Taylor Hospice by hosting two coffee morning fundraisers. “The hospice cared for my dad Stanley Sproson in 2015,” explains Diane from Sutton Coldfield.

“As a family we try and raise as much money as we can for the hospice helping them to be there for other families when they need them – just like they’ve been there for ours.”

Diane and her family haven’t stopped there in their efforts to raise funds for the hospice. They’ve also tackled the gruelling Wolf Run and annual Great Midlands Fun Run – raising nearly £4,000 to help other local families.

“The hospice staff really were marvellous and so supportive,” added Diane. “The care our family received was second to none. We’re happy to do something to show our appreciation for everything they have done for us.”

John Taylor Hospice has been at the heart of communities for over 100 years and has provided care for generations of families. At any one time, staff are caring for 600 people in Birmingham and across the West Midlands, both at the hospice and in their own homes.

“We need to raise £570,000 from public donations this year,” added Sian. “We hope that many people join us to help make this new fundraising initiative a real success and support us to reach our target. Our loyal supporters like Diane and her family are incredibly important to us and we’re so grateful for their kindness and generosity.”  

For hints and tips on how to get started please request a fundraising pack by calling 0121 465 2000, emailing [email protected] or visiting the hospice website at

Connection Crew’s new premises marks commitment to supporting people out of homelessness

Social Enterprise Mark holder Connection Crew is moving its London base to Brixton, consolidating its operations to accommodate commercial growth and an expanding social agenda.

The crewing company that has won industry awards for its professionalism is also a social enterprise. It works with people who’ve had a history of homelessness, providing them with training and job opportunities. Until recently, Connection Crew’s operation had been split, with separate office and warehouse spaces in different parts of South London.

The investment marks a new era for the crewing company which celebrated its 10th birthday last year. Director, Charlie Dorman is excited to announce the move:

“As we enter our second decade in business we need a space that’s fit for purpose for the next ten years – our new home is. While much of our work is remote, having a solid base is beneficial for everyone we work with; funnily enough, it comes down to better logistics. With room to grow our office team, for a dedicated training centre with storage in one space, we can continue to provide award winning services to the event industry as we grow. And the more we grow, the more people we can support out of homelessness.”

Connection Crew is an award winning crewing company working in the UK and internationally. Its crew supports the event industry to set-up events smoothly, safely and successfully. 25 percent of its crew have a history of homelessness and in the last 11 years it has employed 157 ex-homeless people to complete 81,801 hours of work. Every ex-homeless recruit in the last 11 years that has left Connection Crew has gone on to other employment or education – no one has returned to homelessness.

West Midlands hospices spread the love this Valentine’s Day

Hospices from across the West Midlands joined forces on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness about hospice care and show their supporters just how much they appreciate them.

Traditionally 14th February is a day when many of us show our loved ones how much we care. Rather than saying it with flowers or chocolates, hospices from across the region added their own twist to a Valentine’s Day gift. Supported by dedicated volunteers, Social Enterprise Mark holder John Taylor Hospice teamed up with St Giles Hospice, Acorns Children’s Hospice and Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice to spread the love in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.

Sean McKeown, aged 28, from Birmingham shows his support for John Taylor Hospice

Sean McKeown, aged 28, from Birmingham shows his support for John Taylor Hospice

Together they handed out iconic Love Heart sweets to local communities with a special message – Love Your Local Hospice. As well as thanking supporters by sweetening their day, the organisations taking part hoped the event would raise awareness of hospice care amongst adults and children who have a life-limiting illness.

Each year, hospices across the West Midlands care for over 26,000 adult patients and over 1,500 children. They also provide care, support and practical help for their families.

Louise Allen represented John Taylor Hospice in Boldmere on 14 February.  “We really enjoyed the event on Valentine’s Day and thank everyone who stopped to talk to us,” said Louise, who is the PR and Media Officer at the Birmingham-based hospice.”

“It costs £15,000 to run all of our services every day. We can’t do it alone and supporters who donate, fundraise for us and gift their time as volunteers help us make every moment matter for hundreds of local people.”

Along with the Love Hearts, the hospices asked people to take to social media to #TweetYourSweet in support of the Love Your Local Hospice campaign – highlighting the importance hospices play caring for individuals and their loved ones within local communities.

For more information about how you can support the campaign or to find your local hospice visit

SCDA launch local social bond offer for new community centre and nursery

Social Enterprise Mark holder Southville Community Development Association (SCDA) and Triodos Bank have launched a bond offer to help raise £280,000 towards the cost of the Chessel Centre, a new £1.19m community hub and nursery in Bedminster, Bristol.

The centre, which will open in the autumn, will comprise a 54-place nursery, a meeting room for use by local community groups/activities such as after-school clubs for children and social clubs for older people, as well as large outdoor play spaces for the nursery.

Working in partnership with the corporate finance team at Triodos Bank, the SCDA bond is expected to pay 4% gross fixed annual interest for six years. The minimum investment is £500 and investors in the project may be eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief.* Payment of interest and repayment of capital are not guaranteed and are dependent on the continued success of the SCDA’s business model and the new nursery.

The SCDA’s core activity is the provision of high quality childcare and education for children under five, with around 180 local children using its nursery services at the Southville Centre. The OFSTED outstanding rated nursery has been such a success that it is currently at full capacity, with a waiting list of 250 children and families often waiting up to two years for a place. As an ethical organisation the charity also holds the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Standard from the Green Business Tourism Scheme.

The opening of this second nursery will not only enable more families to have access to high quality local childcare and provide additional community facilities for the area but, by generating greater surplus, will enable the SCDA to increase its charitable activities and investment into the Bedminster community. Situated on the site of the former Boys Brigade building at the corner of Chessel and Garnet Streets, the new 476 sq m Chessel Centre will also support the local economy by providing new jobs and using local contractors for the building works.

The £1.19m total cost of transforming the site is being met through a combination of £196,000 from the charity’s reserves, capital grants and repayable finance. In addition to the funds raised through the £280,000 public bond offer, the SCDA has been awarded grants from Bristol City Council (£74,000) and the Power to Change Community Business Fund (£300,000). Furthermore, the bond is expected to qualify for a further £280,000 of matched funding from Big Society Capital managed by Ethex.

Simon Hankins, CEO of SCDA, said: “Our values as an organisation have always focused on what’s best for our local community. The exciting thing about this bond is that Triodos found a way to allow our community members to invest in something that will directly benefit them in return, in respect to both our shared community and our financial wellbeing. I like to think of it as a form of crowdfunding for BS3.”

Dan Hird, head of Triodos Bank Corporate Finance, comments: “It’s not often that investors get the chance to support a well-known charity on their own doorstep and actually see the positive change their investment can have. We’re confident that local investors will want to support the SCDA as they address the growing local childcare need and improve the lives of area residents.”

For more information please visit the SCDA website.


* The SCDA has received advance assurance from HMRC that the bond offer should be eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR). SITR encourages individuals to support charities and social enterprises and in turn helps those charities and social enterprises to access new sources of finance. Individuals making an investment in the bonds can, depending on their circumstances, benefit from income tax relief at 30% of the amount invested. The availability of SITR can increase the total return over the full term of the bond to an estimated 10.3% gross per year for a higher rate (40%) taxpayer. The ability to benefit from SITR depends on an investor’s personal circumstances, current tax legislation and the company’s compliance with the rules.

Investment decisions must only be made on the basis of the offer document and not on any information provided in this news release. Investing in the SCDA bonds is not the same as depositing your money in a bank account as your capital is at risk and you may not get back the full amount that you invested. An investment in the SCDA bonds is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Big Issue Invest Launches ‘Impact Loans England’ Programme

Social Enterprise Mark holder Big Issue Invest has today launched Impact Loans England, a new £5 million lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000.

The programme is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, with finance being provided by its partners Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

Impact Loans England GRAPHIC

The Impact Loans England programme is now available to organisations across England with the £5 million to lend over the next three years. The funding is available to organisations keen to do more of the good work they do – whether it’s buying equipment, hiring new talent, or progressing with business development plans.

Daniel Wilson-Dodd, Head of Lending at Big Issue Invest says, “A lot of great organisations struggle to access small and medium-sized loans, so we wanted to provide support for those exciting social enterprises and charities.”

One of the first organisations to take advantage of the new finance scheme is Impact Hub Birmingham. It offers office and events space for like-minded social enterprise and arts organisations, hosting one-off workshops and ongoing collaborative projects. The hub’s city centre building opened in May last year, after a crowdfunding campaign raised an initial £65,000 for an impressive refurbishment of a Victorian warehouse.

“We were interested in building a better Birmingham, and thought that having a place to bring together lots of organisations with good ideas was a good way of achieving that,” says Andy Reeve, co-founder of Impact Hub Birmingham.

The team behind the Hub has encouraged a range of groups to work together on specific policy challenges and themes, like better childcare. “We’re providing the opportunity for people to work together on a consistent basis,” Reeve explains. “The financial support from Big Issue Invest will allow us to expand what we do.”

The Impact Loans England programme is a continuation of what Big Issue Invest has been doing over the past few years in other schemes aimed at helping social enterprises grow, often by accessing finance for the very first time. Big Issue Invest anticipates the popularity of this programme and is planning to deliver a deal a week for the first six months after launch.

Applications for Impact Loans England are now open. For more information please visit or email [email protected]. You can also download the brochure.

A Twitter Q&A with @BigIssueInvest will be held in February, using the tag #ADealAWeek.

Global champion of standards for social enterprise

Further expansion of our international network

As a global champion of social enterprise standards and the body responsible for the only internationally available social enterprise accreditation, we are delighted to have recently expanded our international network of accredited social enterprises, representing a five-fold increase within 2 years.

nappNetwork of Asia and Pacific Producers Limited (NAPP), part of the the global Fairtrade organisation, working to secure a better deal for farmers and workers in Asia and Pacific, has recently been awarded the fifth international Social Enterprise Mark. NAPP joins the global Fairtrade certification body FLOCERT, along with AUARA (Spain), C3 (UAE), and Northdoc (Ireland) in the growing network of organisations outside the UK accredited with the Social Enterprise Mark, proving a commitment to trading for the benefit of people and planet.

We have a proven international assessment process that can be applied anywhere in the world. We also offer an international consultancy service to advise global counterparts looking to set up similar accreditation schemes for social enterprise within their own countries.

By offering an alternative approach to trade, Fairtrade supports producers in securing better markets, contributing to greater sustainable development in the Asia Pacific region. NAPP certifies farmers and workers across this region, all of whom share ownership of the Fairtrade system and have an equal voice in decision making. As a Producer Network, NAPP ensures their voice is heard in the system.

“Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers is delighted to be accredited with the Social Enterprise Mark” says Ayan A. Banerjee, CEO of NAPP.

“We look forward to the collaboration and are confident that it will further our mission of providing fairer terms of trade to our producers in the Asia and Pacific region. Fairtrade strengthens the position of farmers and workers in the value chain, and by being part of the international social enterprise network, we can help better serve our producer network.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, said “We are delighted to welcome NAPP as our newest international Social Enterprise Mark holder. It is exciting to now be working with two organisations within the internationally recognised Fairtrade movement. NAPP are fulfilling an important role, working to secure a better deal for farmers and workers in Asia and the Pacific.”

“With the UK recognised as a pioneer in the social enterprise business model, we are proud to act as a global champion of credible standards for social enterprise, and are encouraged to see our network continuing to expand across international borders. We are the world pioneers of social enterprise accreditation; ours was the first Mark of this kind for social enterprises, and in welcoming NAPP as a Social Enterprise Mark Holder, we look forward to exploring how we may be able to further recognise and promote social enterprise best practice in this region and beyond.”

Please click here to find out more about our work as a global champion of social enterprise.

Channel 4 to advertise all jobs on specialist site promoting disabled talent

channel-4Channel 4 has announced that it will advertise all of its future vacancies on Evenbreak; a specialist job site run by and for disabled people.

Channel 4 hopes the initiative will attract even more applications from disabled people in a bid to further diversify its workforce and help disabled people break into the media industry.

The broadcaster’s commitment in promoting diversity is firmly established and well documented thanks to its unrivalled commitment during 2016, its Year of Disability. This included acclaimed coverage of the Rio Paralympics, and ground-breaking initiatives such as its £1m Superhumans Wanted campaign, which offered £1 million worth of commercial airtime to an advertiser prominently featuring disability in its adverts, and channel 4’s Rio Production Trainee scheme which saw more than  20 disabled trainees and mid-level staff work on its Rio Paralympic content.

Social Enterprise Mark holder Evenbreak is the only specialist job board in the UK run by disabled people for disabled people. Channel 4 will be the first major broadcasting organisation to routinely post all of its vacancies on Evenbreak, demonstrating once again its commitment to diversity and offering opportunities to disabled people.

Graeme Whippy, Disability Workplace Specialist at Channel 4, said: “Channel 4 took significant steps during the Year of Disability to increase the representation of disabled people on-screen, off-screen in production and in our own back yard. As we move into 2017 it’s critical that we maintain the momentum we built during the Year of Disability and build on its successes – hence the importance of our partnership with Evenbreak to facilitate a pipeline of disabled talent.”

Nichola Ivory-Chapman, Head of Talent Acquisition at Channel 4, said: “Diversity is in Channel 4’s DNA  and we know that recruiting talent from diverse backgrounds encourages our workforce to be vibrant, creative and think differently. It can be a challenge though to reach out to job seekers from under-represented groups which is why we wanted to partner with Evenbreak to help us attract applications from disabled people.”

Jane Hatton, Founder and Director of Evenbreak, said: “Channel 4 has demonstrated a genuine commitment to inclusion and accessibility, and Evenbreak is delighted to be involved in their programme to positively attract disabled candidates.”

Real Ideas Organisation wins national social enterprise award

cial Enterprise Mark holder RIO – the Real Ideas Organisation – a social enterprise based in the south west has won the Inspiring Youth Enterprise award at the UK Social Enterprise Awards.

These annual awards recognise excellence and outstanding achievements by social enterprises – businesses that reinvest their profits for good, benefitting people and planet. There are now more than 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £24 billion to the economy each year.

Real-Ideas-Organisation-Trading-LtdReal Ideas Organisation (RIO) is a pioneering social enterprise supporting people to build better futures. RIO believes social enterprise has the power to create a fairer world. By influencing policy, delivering programmes and supporting and developing people and places, the business is committed to growing social enterprises to unlock potential and create opportunities. RIO also developed the SEQ, the world’s first social enterprise qualification.

Lindsey Hall, Chief Executive of RIO – the Real Ideas Organisation said: “We are thrilled to have won the Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award at the UK Social Enterprise Awards – giving us national recognition for the work we do with young people and communities.”

“We have been championing social enterprise and the power it has to empower people and transform places for almost a decade. Next year we will celebrate 10 years as RIO and to win such a prestigious national award shows how far we have come as an organisation; it is a wonderful early birthday present.”

The awards ceremony was attended by leading UK social enterprises, representatives from large corporates and the Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson MP.

Social enterprise supply chain

RIO and the other winners were presented with bespoke trophies made by the social enterprise, Designs in Mind, which employs people with mental health problems. Social enterprises also supplied all the goods and services on the night, including the catering, rigging, drinks, flower displays and goody bags.

The awards are organised by Social Enterprise UK, the national trade body for social enterprise.

Peter Holbrook CBE, Social Enterprise UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“Year on year the UK Social Enterprise Awards get bigger and better. This year the competition was particularly fierce, so a big congratulations to RIO for taking home a trophy.”

In a year that’s been dominated by political uncertainty, divisions and inequalities, hearing the stories behind the winners and all the finalists has been a breath of fresh air. Social enterprises show that another way of doing business is possible, one that puts people and the planet first. Because they’re free of shareholders they’re able to reinvest their profits for good.”

SCDA get go ahead for new community centre and nursery

Work will start next week on a new community centre in Bedminster, Bristol, which will house a 54 place nursery, offices for the management charity and a new community centre.

southville-centreThe site on Chessel Street was purchased by Social Enterprise Mark holder Southville Community Development Association (SCDA), the team behind the successful Southville Centre, 18 months ago after several years of searching for a suitable location to open additional nursery provision in the area. The SCDA currently has a waiting list of around 250 children with many families having to wait up to two years for a place.

Following a long period of consultation, planning permission was granted by Bristol City Council earlier this month to demolish the present building and construct a new structure to provide the much-needed facilities. Bristol-based Helm Construction has been appointed by SCDA to carry out the works. Demolition works will commence on Monday 21st November and the new building, which will be named the Chessel Centre is due to be open in autumn 2017.

The building on the corner of Chessel Street and Garnet Street was the site of the former Boy’s Brigade and known locally as the John Millard Memorial Hall. The SCDA carried out viability studies on converting the existing building but it was not viable to do so given the inefficiency of the current building.

Tim Clark, head of family services at the SCDA commented: “There is huge demand in the Bedminster and Southville area for quality childcare provision so we’ve now been looking for a suitable site for several years. Chessel Street is a great location and the plans are to build a space that will provide an additional 54 nursery places for local children.”

“It’s incredibly important to us that we work closely with the community to deliver a centre that suits their needs and also grows the local economy by providing new jobs and using local contractors to carry out the works.”

The £1.12 million project is being funded through a combination of the charity’s reserves, capital grants and repayable finance. Early next year the community will have the opportunity to invest in the centre as the final part of funding required will be financed by a bond issued by the SCDA and promoted by Triodos Bank. Details of the bond offer will be announced in January 2017.

For more information please visit

NatWest SE100 announce shortlist for Social Business Awards

SE100 AwardsNow in its 7th year, the leading market intelligence resource for social ventures, the NatWest SE100 Index, has announced the shortlist for its 2016/17 Social Business Awards.

Revealed at the annual Good Deals social investment conference on 13th November, a total of 26 organisations have been shortlisted, celebrating the most inspiring and effective social enterprise leaders, and the strength, impact and resilience of the sector in the UK. The shortlist includes Social Enterprise Mark holders Furniture Resource Centre (FRC), Manor House Development Trust, and Pembrokeshire FRAME Ltd.

Each of these organisations have been shortlisted for the Impact Champion award, and Simon Donovan of Manor House Development Trust has also been shortlisted for the Leadership Champion award.

Shaun Doran, FRC Group

Shaun Doran, FRC Group

Shaun Doran, CEO of FRC, said: “We are delighted to be once again shortlisted for an SE100 Social Business Award. It means a great deal to us to be recognised nationally as an organisation that helps makes a real difference and changes people’s lives.”

“Our vision is of a society where people can obtain good quality, affordable furniture without experiencing the devastating impacts of furniture poverty – no bed to sleep on or unmanageable debts. Our mission is to reduce and ultimately eradicate furniture poverty, campaigning to raise awareness and create practical solutions to get furniture to people who need it. This award nomination really helps to draw attention to the problem.”

Jennifer Sims, CEO of Pembrokeshire FRAME said: “It is not easy to explain all the good that we do, so the SE100 index is important to us as it allows us to showcase our activities and benchmark ourselves against other social enterprises across the UK.” 

Mark Parsons, Head of Community Finance and Social Enterprise, NatWest, said: “The SE100 Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the very best in UK social enterprise. This year’s strong shortlist showcases the vibrancy and diversity of these businesses, which are making our economy more successful and our communities stronger. NatWest has been a proud supporter of the sector for many years and we look forward to welcoming all of those shortlisted to the Awards ceremony in January.”

Tim West, CEO of Matter&Co and founder of the SE100, said: “Running any business is challenging – running a business that changes people’s lives and stays profitable at the same time is nothing short of miraculous. This year’s SE100 shortlist is making miracles happen for people and communities all around the country. We look forward to learning how they do it and sharing their stories, as we select our winners over the coming months.”

The winners will be announced at a special ceremony in London on Thursday 19th January 2017, to celebrate the achievements of all the fantastic social change makers on the Index.

Awards winners will receive a professionally produced winners film about their organisation to use across future PR and marketing collateral, a beautiful SE100 trophy created by social enterprise artists, and a share of cash prizes totalling £6,000.

Best of luck to all of the shortlisted organisations. For more information please visit the SE100 website.

Column Bakehouse on a roll with landmark University deal

Plymouth-University-1Students, staff and visitors at Social Enterprise Mark holder Plymouth University will now be able to enjoy local artisan bread and baked goods on campus thanks to a landmark deal between Column Bakehouse and University Commercial Services Plymouth Ltd (UCSP).

The deal will see the award winning Column Bakehouse – Plymouth’s first and only social enterprise bakery – supply seven cafés and catering outlets on the Plymouth University campus as well as the professional hospitality kitchen, all run by UCSP Ltd.

Claire Burgess, Commercial Manager for Column Bakehouse said: “We’re thrilled to be entering into this new wholesale arrangement with UCSP Ltd. We have built a loyal following from our Devonport Guildhall base, but to really grow our business in line with our ambitions we need to maximize wholesale as well as retail opportunities.”

“This new partnership with Plymouth University through UCSP Ltd will support our plans for growth, enabling us to get our award winning product out there to be enjoyed by even more people.”

Matthew Hodson, Commercial Services Director at UCSP Ltd said: “We are real admirers of the fantastic food produced by the Column Bakehouse and are delighted that we can introduce them to the Students, Staff and Customers in our award winning campus cafés. We take our responsibility to deliver a high quality, sustainable and good value experience very seriously and this arrangement with Column Bakehouse will certainly support us in this mission. It is a fantastic example of like-minded South West businesses collaborating to succeed.”

Column Bakehouse is part of leading social enterprise Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), also a Mark holder, which uses social enterprise as a vehicle for positive social change.

The Bakehouse is situated in the Grade I listed Devonport Guildhall in Plymouth. Since its launch in 2013 it has picked up awards from Food Plymouth as well as ‘Best Start-Up’ Awards from the Plymouth Herald and Western Morning News.  Specialising in a wide range of artisan breads – particularly sourdough – Column Bakehouse has become the destination for connoisseurs of bread and baking for its top quality product, knowledgeable team, and family friendly on-site café.

Real People HR shortlisted for Personnel Today Awards

Real-People-High-res-1Social Enterprise Mark holder Real People HR has been shortlisted for Consultancy of the Year at the Personnel Today Awards 2016.

These annual awards celebrate talent in Human Resources, and the Consultancy of the Year category celebrates the important contribution made by external experts to the success of HR in organisations.

Helen Giles, Managing Director of Real People, said: “We are really pleased to be a finalist for such a prestigious award. We are proud of the difference our consultancy work has made to the charities and socially minded businesses we support, and are very pleased that the Personnel Today Awards recognise great work done in the not-for-profit as well as the commercial and public sectors.”

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in London on 22nd November 2016.

To find out more, please visit the Personnel Today website.

Accredited social enterprises shortlisted for prestigious awards

We were delighted to see so many Social Enterprise Mark holders shortlisted for the upcoming 2016 UK Social Enterprise Awards, including long-standing Mark holder Connection Crew, which is shortlisted for the prestigious Social Enterprise of the Year accolade.

Congratulations and best of luck to all the following organisations:

  • Beacon Centre – One to Watch Award
  • Big Issue – Consumer Facing Social Enterprise Award
  • Big Issue Invest – Social Investment Deal of the Year
  • se_brand_approved_rgbBusiness Launchpad – Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award
  • Connection Crew – Social Enterprise of the Year
  • Co-wheels – Environmental Social Enterprise Award
  • hisBe – Consumer Facing Social Enterprise Award
  • Iridescent Ideas – Social Impact Award
  • Real Ideas Organisation – Education, Training & Jobs Social Enterprise Award and Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award
  • Helen Giles, MD of Real People HR – Social Enterprise Women’s Champion
  • The Soap Co. (subsidiary of Clarity) – One to Watch Award
  • Turning Point – Health and Social Care Social Enterprise Award

Winners will be announced at a ceremony and gala dinner in London on Monday 28th November 2016. Good luck to all the shortlisted organisations.

Pioneering competition launched by Beacon Centre

Social Enterprise Mark holder Beacon Centre for the Blind has launched a pioneering competition to improve the lives of those living with sight loss and or other sensory loss.

Beacon Visionary ChallengeInventors across the West Midlands are being urged to sign up for the Beacon Visionary+ Challenge which has a prize fund worth £20,000. It aims to find innovative products or services; from gadgets that may make everyday tasks a little easier to a ground breaking invention which would transform someone’s life.

Beacon Centre has joined forces with the University of Wolverhampton’s Caparo Innovation Centre to run the competition. The winner will receive a £20,000 prize, comprising a combination of cash investment and in-kind support from the state of the art innovation centre. The aim is to help bring the winning product or service to the open market faster and more effectively.

Arwyn Jones, Beacon Centre Chief Executive  said: “Across the West Midlands there are already around 170,000 people affected by sight loss, by 2050 this will rise to some 350,000.”

“Beacon Centre is a leading sight loss charity and we want to inspire new products or services that could transform everyday life for people with visual or other sensory impairments and has the potential to be launched on the open market.”

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of Product Innovation at the University of Wolverhampton’s Caparo Innovation Centre added: “We’re excited to be working with the Beacon Centre to deliver the Visionary+ Challenge, and looking forward to working with inventors and entrepreneurs to help them develop their products.”

The competition’s patron is Dr Stephen Fear, a renowned entrepreneur and businessman, notable as having been Entrepreneur in Residence at The British Library where he continues in his role as ambassador. He said: “Innovation is a vital element of entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurs create general wealth which extends beyond just the financial. Inventing and discovering new things has been part of UK culture since the doomsday book and the West Midlands has been a honeypot for inventors since the industrial revolution.”

“This new initiative by The University of Wolverhampton and the Beacon Centre for those with sight impairment aims to help new inventors and entrepreneurs bring innovative products and concepts to market which benefit both themselves and society generally.”

Those interested in applying, can find more information can be found on the Visionary+ Challenge websiteThe competition will be open for submission of entries from the beginning of September 2016.

On 18th October, prospective applicants can attend the Caparo Innovation Centre for a one to one advisory session to polish their submission, or take part in an online YouTube Live webchat with Nick Comley, Beacon’s Head of Social Finance and Business Development. The drop in sessions and webchat will run from 2.30pm – 4.30pm GMT from the University of Wolverhampton.

Roots HR logo

Roots HR launch free HR advice line for NCVO members

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) last week announced West Midlands-based Social Enterprise Mark holder Roots HR CIC as a Trusted Supplier for HR services, including the provision of free HR advice for NCVO members.

roots-hr-teamRoots HR has offered high quality people management and employment law advice, tailored to the not-for-profit sector, as part of its well-established and popular stakeholder-led COMPLY service, since inception in 2009. It will deliver the free HR advice line service in a similar way, with unique terms for NCVO members, funded through income generated from trading surpluses. Members wishing to purchase additional consultancy time will be able to do this at discounted rates.

The service, provided by Roots HR’s team of fully qualified and experienced chartered consultants, is offered from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank and public holidays). NCVO member organisations can access the service by phoning Roots HR on 01562 840060 or emailing [email protected], quoting their NCVO membership number.

Jan Golding, Chief Executive of Roots HR comments: “We are very pleased to offer this service to NCVO members. We believe every not-for-profit organisation should have access to professional advice in respect of its workforce. We have always offered our own “once in a lifetime” hour of free consultancy services to allow social sector employers to experience the benefits and will continue to do this. Our work with NCVO will enable us to deliver significantly increased impact for our sector.”

Chris Taylor, Enterprise Development Manager, NCVO said: The quality offered by all of our Trusted Suppliers to our members is of the highest importance to NCVO. Roots HR offer a flexible HR Advice line service which we are delighted to have negotiated for our members, strengthening our membership offering. Good HR practice is an essential part of supporting the voluntary sector workforce and ensuring organisations are run effectively.”

John Taylor Hospice asks what hospice care means to you

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice joined up to 200 other hospices across the UK as part of Hospice Care Week, an annual awareness-raising event, which took place 3rd – 9th October.

jth-kieran-harrison-and-daniel-pierceThis year’s theme was “hospice care is . . .” Patients, staff and volunteers at the Birmingham-based hospice took part by sharing photographs expressing what hospice care means to them and highlighting the varied – and often surprising – aspects of hospice care.

Louise Allen, PR and media officer at John Taylor Hospice, said: “One in three people will be touched by hospice care at some point in their lives. The care provided is immensely varied but always centred around the person, what is important to them and their loved ones.”

“Here at John Taylor we’re totally dedicated to making every moment matter for everyone we care for. We really embraced Hospice Care Week and the opportunity to join our hospice colleagues in giving a collective voice to hospice care. Together we can raise awareness, change perceptions and share just how unique and special it is.”

Founded in 1910, John Taylor Hospice has been at the heart of the Birmingham community for more than 100 years. In 1948 the hospice was gifted to the NHS and in 2011 its staff voted to ‘spin out’ from the NHS as an independent not for profit community interest company.

Today more than 600 people and their families will receive the care they need from the hospice. That care may involve 24-hour care at the hospice, day services, counselling and well-being and a range of specialist services including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy and complementary therapies.

If you would like to find out more about the 2016 campaign take a look at #HospiceCareWeek and #hospicecareis on Twitter. An album of photographs is also available on the hospice’s Facebook page.

Ingeus and Pluss combine expertise in work, health and disability

IngeusPluss - Experts in...Ingeus and Social Enterprise Mark holder Pluss have announced a joint initiative to help people with disabilities and long-term health conditions into sustainable work.

The collaboration brings together Ingeus’ proven expertise in supporting jobseekers, including those with complex health conditions, with Pluss’ award-winning approach to helping people with disabilities back into work.

As experts in work, health, and disability support services, Ingeus and Pluss are bringing together their collective expertise and extensive experience working with employers to develop a new service offer for the Work and Health Programme and to help half the disability employment gap. Both organisations will also share their extensive experience of working with employers to open up job and career opportunities for all.

This new initiative will combine the specialisms and proven methodologies of both organisations to deliver a next-generation employment support programme. As performance-focused values-driven organisations, they have set up a joint project group and are developing a new locally integrated service blending support for employment, health conditions and disabilities.

Steve Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer at Pluss says: “I am delighted that Pluss and Ingeus have come together to launch this ground-breaking initiative. We share a deep-rooted commitment to helping transform the lives of those facing difficulties in securing work through health or disability.  Pluss’ collaboration with Ingeus will increase our impact, enabling us to further support the Government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap.”

Jack Sawyer, Chief Executive Officer at Ingeus says: “It is a fantastic opportunity to be working with Pluss. Teams of both organisations are now working together to develop a next-generation employment programme that will lead the field and offer an effective evidence-based approach to tackling unemployment, health and disadvantage.”

Both Ingeus and Pluss will remain separate organisations, retaining full independent control of their contracts and service delivery.

Unlimited Potential shortlisted for Living Wage Champion Awards 2016

living-wage-awardsSocial Enterprise Mark holder Unlimited Potential has been shortlisted by the Living Wage Foundation for the Living Wage Champion Awards 2016, which recognise Living Wage employers that have made great contributions to communities and industries by implementing and celebrating the Living Wage.

The Living Wage Foundation offers a recognition mark for employers that commit to paying the Living Wage. There are now over 2,700 accredited employers, including Unlimited Potential and Social Enterprise Mark CIC

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living using the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK. Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; it is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet.

“Unlimited Potential chose to be a Living Wage employer because we want our people to be paid competitively and to be treated fairly, sharing in our success”, said Chris Dabbs, Executive Director of Unlimited Potential.

Living Wage Foundation Director, Katherine Chapman said: “I would like to offer huge congratulations to Unlimited Potential on being shortlisted for the Living Wage Champion Awards. The commitment of Living Wage employers like Unlimited Potential to responsible pay makes a life-changing difference to families and communities across the UK. We look forward to celebrating this even more when announcing the winners of the regional awards during Living Wage Week which will begin on 31st October.”

The award winners will be announced during Living Wage Week, with one winner announced for each region of the UK: Scotland; Wales; Northern Ireland; the East Midlands; the West Midlands; the East of England; Yorkshire and the Humber; North East England; North West England; South East England; South West England; and London.

The awards are judged by an independent panel of community leaders from Citizens UK; national community organising charity and home of the Living Wage campaign.

Julie Hawker awarded Society of Leadership Fellow

CEO of Cosmic and Social Enterprise Mark Ambassador Julie Hawker has recently been presented with a new role, that of Society of Leadership Fellow of St. George’s House, Windsor Castle. Julie joins a very impressive host of fellows and Cosmic are extremely proud to be represented in this way.

St. Georges House was founded in 1966 by H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh and the then Dean of Windsor, Robin Woods, as a place where people of influence and responsibility in every area of society can come together to explore and communicate. Their vision is ‘To effect change for the better in our society by nurturing Wisdom through dialogue’.

As 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of St. George’s House, they wanted to celebrate by establishing a new leadership community that will become a permanent feature of the way the House works. The leaders are chosen from every sector of society and economy and support each other with their own leadership development.

Julie was initially approached to become a Fellow because of the focus Cosmic have, as an ethical IT company and the work around digital inclusion and social enterprise. Julie’s digital leadership focus has also been a contributing factor to the fellowship. She will now be part of a great team of fellows who meet at least once a year at Windsor castle for Leadership conversations.

To find out more about St. George’s House and the work they do please visit their website

John Taylor Hospice finalist in prestigious Birmingham awards

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice has been chosen as a top not for profit business in Birmingham.

The hospice, which left the NHS and set up as a social enterprise in 2011, is shortlisted in the not for profit category of the Birmingham Post Business Awards. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre on 26th October.

The news came just days after the hospice reached the finals of the UK Private Business Awards.

Hospice CEO Penny Venables said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by the Birmingham Post to be shortlisted in these awards. We know the judges will have had a really difficult task in choosing finalists as there is so much great work being done in Birmingham.”

“Like the Birmingham Post, John Taylor Hospice is part of the heritage of this city and has been supporting families in Birmingham for more than 100 years. This year we celebrate our fifth birthday as an independent social enterprise so we are delighted to have our community interest company recognised in this way.”

“We look forward to attending the awards ceremony and to meeting lots of other brilliant Birmingham businesses who are doing so much for the city and the people who live and work here.”

For more information on the hospice see

Fusion21 Wins CIPS Supply Management Award

Social Enterprise Scoops ‘Best Contribution to the Reputation of Procurement’ Accolade

Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 has won the ‘Best Contribution to the Reputation of Procurement’ category in the prestigious Chartered Institute of Procurement (CIPS) Supply Management Awards 2016.

The awards, which are respected as a benchmark for excellence, and honour UK organisations and individuals working within the procurement and supply chain industry – were announced at a ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Shortlised alongside financial services firm Standard Life, Fusion21 was selected for showcasing how procurement can be a key enabler in delivering long-term positive social impact as well as financial contribution.

Fusion21Fusion21 has a sustainable business model which complies with the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 and enables social value through the procurement process – supporting the growth, stabilisation and development of communities. Through a collaborative approach with its membership, Fusion21 has delivered c£125 million savings through the procurement process, created more than 2,500 jobs and generated around £56 million in community impact across the country.

Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21, said: “Winning this award and gaining recognition amongst some of the biggest brands working within the public and private sectors is a huge achievement for Fusion21.”

“As a national social enterprise we support public sector organisations to deliver significant efficiencies – saving members as much as 30% on market prices – and create social value within local communities.”

“Our approach to procurement leads to a variety of positive social outcomes – from job creation and tackling unemployment, to reducing reoffending and supporting wider community regeneration.”

Fusion21 works with more than 200 members, including registered providers, local authorities, education providers and the NHS.

Earlier this year, the social enterprise won the ‘Driving Value for Money’ category in the first Cabinet Office Social Value Awards.

A list of all 2016 award winners and categories can be found on the CIPS Supply Management Awards website.

University of Salford Enterprise team recognised for entrepreneurial support

SalfordSocial Enterprise Gold Mark holder University of Salford has been recognised for its efforts in engaging students in enterprise activity, at a prestigious awards ceremony.

The Enterprise team in Student Experience and Support won the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) Award for Entrepreneurship, in recognition of the services that the enterprise team offer to students, both within the curriculum and within its extracurricular support opportunities.

Over the last five years, £1 million has been invested into student and graduate entrepreneurship at the University of Salford. This has included investment in start-up grants, incubation services and the team co-founded the largest dedicated Postgraduate Enterprise student conference in the UK – Enterprise Futures. This conference aims to inspire entrepreneurship and encourage postgraduates to turn their research ideas into venture creation, now working in partnership with The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Dominic Martinez, Head of Business and Enterprise, said:  “I am delighted that a combination of workshops, boot camps, individual one-to-one meetings and our incubation services had an impact on over 2300 students and graduates last year and we got great feedback from our students in a recent survey of over 1000 of people who use our services. We have a small team but it is a massive team effort, and to get external recognition alongside the recent Vice-Chancellor’s awards for our team is thrilling.

“As well thanking the internal Enterprise team, I would also like to give credit to our external advisory staff Adrian Ashton, Isla Wilson and Jon Monk for their hard work”.

University of Salford prides itself in offering lifelong enterprise and business start-up support to all students and graduates both within the curriculum and beyond. This can consist of anything from funding advice, to support with writing business plans. The enterprise team also offer hugely popular workshops, such as Enterprise Academy sessions. These run which run in early evenings, to allow students and graduates to attend outside of their class time. Since Jan 2015, more than 30 events have been held, with great success attracting nearly 1000 students.

AGCAS is the professional body for careers and employability professionals working with higher education students and graduates and prospective entrants to higher education.

Student Satisfaction at Social Enterprise Universities

Two universities that have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark have scored highly in the 2016 National Student Survey (NSS).

MARJON-LOGO-CMYKUniversity of St Mark and St John in Plymouth (Marjon) has shot up the league tables, showing the highest percentage point increase of any university this year, rising up the rankings to be rated joint 35th out of 160 universities in the country, with 89% overall student satisfaction.

Several Marjon courses were ranked joint top in the country with 100% satisfaction, including the innovative new Acting degree, which sees its first students graduating this year, to the long established and well respected Secondary Education with PE. Other courses with 100% satisfaction were Sport Development with Physical Education and Sports Media and Journalism, showing a breadth of talent across all three Marjon faculties.

The University as a whole scored well across a breadth of measures such as Teaching (90% satisfaction), Personal Development (89% satisfaction) and Learning Resources (88% satisfaction). This positioned it above eight of the 10 other universities in the South West including Plymouth, Bristol, UWE, Bath Spa and Falmouth. Out of the 24 Russell Group universities in the UK, only six came in higher than Marjon for student satisfaction. When compared to other “modern” universities, excluding specialist and private providers, Marjon now ranks joint 6th in the country.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Cara Aitchison said “Our personalised approach to education ensures that all of our students thrive within a welcoming and supportive university environment that stimulates them to achieve academic success while also developing the skills, confidence and experience to succeed in graduate-level employment and life more generally.”

“We often hear positive feedback from students about the high level of support they receive and the excellent facilities we have here on campus, but we are all delighted to see this reflected in this important independent survey.”


Coventry UniCoventry University was  ranked 11th in the UK with 91% overall student satisfaction, and is the UK’s best at boosting students’ confidence. Coventry also secured joint top spot nationally in the personal development category, in which students were asked to assess how their confidence, communication skills and ability to tackle problems had improved during their studies.

Coventry was also ranked first amongst modern universities for both personal development and for the organisation and management of its courses. Out of all the non-specialist universities in the Midlands, Coventry secured top spot for personal development and finished joint first for teaching, and organisation and management.

The positive feedback that students have reported around their own personal development is especially satisfying for the University as it strives to increase accessibility to higher education and enhance the learning experience for those who come to study at Coventry.

Vice-Chancellor John Latham said At Coventry University we’re really focused on enhanced learning. What that means in practice is that alongside gaining knowledge in a specific field and acquiring a worthwhile qualification we want our students to grow in confidence during their time here so they feel well equipped for the workplace and beyond when they leave us.”

“We’re very pleased to have once again scored highly in the personal development category in this year’s student survey. It’s particularly satisfying given our student demographic and especially rewarding to watch them become more self-assured while they study here.”

The results of the 2016 NSS were published this week, showing a high level of satisfaction among students studying at UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Further Education colleges and alternative providers, with 86% saying they are satisfied overall with their course. The NSS covers nearly all final-year undergraduates studying for Higher Education qualifications. The survey is funded by the four UK higher education funding bodies.

Finance for Social Sector Organisations

Please click here to access the survey in a new window

Create your own user feedback survey

CQC Praises John Taylor Hospice

Health regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) has praised Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice, stating that staff treat people with ‘kindness, compassion and respect’.

CQC, who visited the hospice unannounced on 25th May 2016, found the hospice to be ‘good’ in all categories and highlighted the caring attitude of staff and volunteers, noting that staff were ‘kind, empathetic, responsive, creative and proactive in providing care and ensuring dignity for patients’.

John Taylor Hospice's day hospice patient Fran Tierney with Heart of the Hospice manager Paddy Breen and Fran's sister Liz Cox

John Taylor Hospice’s day hospice patient Fran Tierney with Heart of the Hospice manager Paddy Breen and Fran’s sister Liz Cox

CQC also praised the hospice’s ‘Taylor-made’ care:

“People received the care and treatment they needed when they needed it and which met their individual needs.”

“After inspecting the premises and talking to staff, volunteers, patients and families, they reported: “People and relatives were very positive about the care provided by the hospice and spoke of the friendliness, approachability and empathy of staff.”

CQC shared comments from relatives including “The staff have been there every step of the way”, “we had every possible help we wanted” and “the hospice has given me my life back and helped me live in the moment”.

John Taylor Hospice, which has been supporting people in Birmingham for more than 100 years, was assessed to have met the ‘good’ standard in all five categories: safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. CQC added “People were enabled to be as independent as possible and were treated with dignity and respect in all aspects of the support staff provided.”

The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England and carries out regular unannounced visits of care homes, acute hospitals and domiciliary care services to judge whether essential standards are being met. Commissioners last visited John Taylor Hospice in November 2013, when they also praised the care provided and found the hospice met all standards.

Hospice CEO Penny Venables welcomed the inspection and the report:

“We are delighted the CQC has seen that John Taylor Hospice meets all standards and is kind and responsive to individual need,” she said. “During their visit the inspectors heard from staff, patients and families and saw that we are totally dedicated to providing the very best care.”

“We believe every moment matters for every person we care for and we were pleased to see that inspectors noted that, commenting on how we always put the patient and their family at the heart of all we do.”

Following publication of the CQC report, Chairman Clive Wilkinson has written to all staff to thank them.

“Our staff are the reason we are achieving such high standards and this report is a credit to them,” he said. “The hospice Board wants to record its thanks for the staff’s continuing dedication”.

The full report can be found on the CQC website.

Open Doors Scotland wins ERSA ‘Partnership of the Year’ Award

tlp_opendoorspartners-2Open Doors Scotland, a consortium of Scotland’s six leading providers of employability services for people with disabilities and long term conditions, is celebrating winning ‘Partnership of the Year’ at the ERSA Employability Awards 2016 in London. The Open Doors partnership includes Social Enterprise Mark holder The Lennox Partnership.

The UK-wide award was given in recognition of the positive impact of joint working between January 2014 and June 2015, when Open Doors Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive programme, funded by Skills Development Scotland, supported more than 350 people in Scotland aged 16-24 with disabilities in to work.

The Employability Awards, now in their fourth year, showcase and champion best practice from across the employment support sector, celebrating the hard work and achievements of those involved in supporting people into work. The 2016 awards were judged by Nick Butler (Policy Lead for the Work and Health Programme at the Department for Work and Pensions), Andy Cook (Programmes Director at the Centre for Social Justice) and Christine Chang (Senior Director of Investments at Big Society Capital).

Capability Scotland, ENABLE Scotland, Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, RNIB Scotland, SAMH and The Lennox Partnership are the six organisations which comprise Open Doors Scotland.

Jamie Rutherford, Head of Employability, ENABLE Scotland said: “Open Doors Scotland is delighted at being recognised as one of the leading and most impactful employability support partnerships in the UK. This award is testament to the successful life-changing work being delivered by the six partners’ employment advisers who are helping young people with disabilities to gain jobs and realise their full potential in workplaces across Scotland.”

Kristy McHugh, Chief Executive, ERSA, said: “Across the country there are people and organisations doing exceptional work day in and day out to support people into work. The awards recognise this and enable us to say “Thank you!” to Open Doors Scotland. Thank you to all those involved in an individual’s journey into employment, from an advisor coaching someone towards work, to an employer taking on a candidate, to the jobseeker themselves, working so hard to overcome any barriers and move into work.”

Pluss wins ERSA ‘Disability and Health’ Award

PlussSocial Enterprise Mark holder Pluss was recently named the winner of the Disability and Health Employment Award at the annual ERSA Employability Awards.

The Employability Awards, now in their fourth year, showcase and champion best practice from across the employment support sector, celebrating the hard work and achievements of those involved in supporting people into work. The Disability and Health Employment Award recognises a provider who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in supporting job-seekers with limiting disabilities and health conditions to achieve sustained employment.

Pluss was also highly commended in the IEP Professionalisation Award, which recognises the commitment of an individual, team or organisations to championing the professionalisation of the employment support sector.

To find out more about the awards, please visit the ERSA website.

Recognising excellence in social enterprise

York St John University and health and social care services provider SEQOL have become the latest organisations to be awarded the internationally recognised Social Enterprise Gold Mark for their commitment to social enterprise excellence.

Gold Marks_York St John and SEQOLWe invited former Cabinet Office Minister Phil Hope to officially present both organisations with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark at the organisation’s conference in Salford on 8th June. The presentation formed part of an awards reception, celebrating the vast and diverse achievements of our accredited social enterprises.

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark offers enhanced accreditation to social enterprises wishing to demonstrate their excellence, assessing three essential areas of business operations:

  • Governance
  • Business ethics
  • Financial transparency

York St John University and SEQOL join existing Gold Mark holders Integrated Care 24, John Taylor Hospice, and University of Salford, in the exclusive network of ‘Gold standard’ social enterprises, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to social enterprise excellence.

Professor Karen Stanton, Vice Chancellor at York St John University said: “York St John University is delighted and honoured to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. This much-coveted accreditation is only given to those organisations who can demonstrate they are making a real difference to their community and the environment.

“We are one of only a few universities in the UK to have achieved this status and I am deeply grateful that the hard work and dedication of the York St John teams involved have been recognised in such a positive way.”

Katie Taylor-Neale, Head of Communications at SEQOL said: “Being a social enterprise has always been an important part of our identity within SEQOL – and we are proud to be an accredited Social Enterprise Mark holder.”

“To now be awarded the Gold Mark is really special and provides even further reassurance to people we work with that our innovative health and social care services are underpinned by clear business ethics.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, added: “We are delighted to award these two Social Enterprise Gold Marks, which are both very well deserved.”

“York St John University is only the second university to have achieved this challenging social enterprise accreditation. The university is clearly committed to providing a great student experience for learners from all different backgrounds, and the management team and staff also share a very strong sense of social purpose.”

“SEQOL places emphasis on employee engagement through voluntary employee ownership; employees are allowed the choice to purchase shares. Over 60% of employees have chosen to be shareholders – an impressive level of engagement for an employer of SEQOL’s size.”

“The assessment of both these organisations revealed that where you have a workforce that is so clearly enthused by its social purposes and how they contribute to this, there can be no greater strength to being a successful social enterprise. Well done to all concerned.”

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the UK and international accreditation body responsible for assessing applications for the Social Enterprise Mark and Social Enterprise Gold Mark. We ensure the social enterprise business model remains ethical, credible and commercial through accreditation.

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark provides a route to social enterprise excellence. The Gold Mark offers enhanced accreditation to social enterprises which can show best practice in proof points across key business areas, including financial transparency and business ethics. It is a business development tool that sets benchmarks and an action plan for continuous improvement.

Please click here for more information an the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

John Taylor Hospice shortlisted in national business awards

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice has been named as one of six social enterprises among the national finalists of the UK Private Business Awards.

The hospice, which left the NHS to become an independent social enterprise five years ago, was chosen by the awards voting panel after regional finals across the country. Founded in 1910, John Taylor Hospice provides specialist palliative and end of life care both at its Erdington hospice and in the community. With an In-Patient Unit, community teams, day hospice and specialists including physiotherapists, pharmacists and occupational therapists its teams ensure ‘Taylor-made’ care for patients and their families.

ukpba16logo-webNow in their sixth year, the UK Private Business Awards aim to recognise the most successful companies, social enterprises, entrepreneurs and management teams from across the business spectrum and this year received more than 2,200 nominations.

The hospice is a finalist in the new category of Social Enterprise of the Year Award and the winners will be announced at an event in London sponsored by PwC on 15th September.

Hospice CEO Penny Venables said: “As a not for profit social enterprise, John Taylor Hospice and all of our staff are totally dedicated to providing the very best of specialist care for the people in our local community.”

“It’s wonderful news that this work has been recognised and that we have been selected from the hundreds of entries for these awards to be a national finalist. It pays tribute to the commitment of our staff and volunteers in making every moment matter for everyone we care for.”


Free loan webinar for charities and social enterprises

Social Enterprise Mark holder Charity Bank is holding a free 45-minute webinar on 14th May 2016, designed for trustees and senior managers of charities and social enterprises considering loan finance,or for those who simply want to learn more.

The webinar will cover:

  • evaluating if loans are right for your organisation
  • the pros and cons of loan finance
  • how trustees can evaluate the risks of loan finance
  • how loans can help you grow your income and improve your sustainability
  • what lenders look for and how to deal with lenders
  • insights from Coast & Vale Community Action and other social sector borrowers
  • an opportunity for you to ask questions

The webinar will be hosted by Charity Bank and loan recipient Coast & Vale Community Action (CAVCA). Together they are well positioned to answer your questions on charity loans.

Charity Bank webinarSign up now

The webinar is on Thursday 14th July 2016 from 11am to 11.45am. Please click here to register.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


Jeremy Ince is a Charity Bank Regional Manager. In addition to his work with Charity Bank, he is a trustee of a major youth charity in Yorkshire. As such he is acutely aware of the funding challenges and opportunities that charities face.

Mel Bonney-Kane is CEO of Coast & Vale Community Action, an infrastructure organisation involved in the facilitation of a thriving and sustainable voluntary, community and social enterprise sector across the Ryedale District and Scarborough Borough of North Yorkshire.



About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is a bank for good, owned by charities and social purpose organisations. It lends to charities, social enterprises and other organisations with a social purpose.



Social Enterprise Mark holders working together to add social value

Social Enterprise Mark holders Cosmic and Pluss have worked closely together for several years, through project work, development of a new Pluss website and, most recently, the creation of a new video to showcase the outcomes for clients that Pluss have supported into finding employment.

The objective was to produce a video that created real emotions, which was achieved using a number of techniques, including using upbeat, optimistic music to create a positive atmosphere to the video, and showing the case study clients smiling and proactively interacting with others. Incorporating positive words from those that work with each of Pluss’ clients also added to the optimism of the video.

Cosmic filmed over several days at a variety of locations, to capture the stories of a number of Pluss’ clients and their employers, to produce a final video (shown below) that showcased their individual stories, difficulties and the positive outcomes of finding employment.

Feedback from Pluss was exceptionally positive – Geraldine Scott-Smith, Communications and Public Affairs Manager, said; “Quite simply, I love it. I think you have done an amazing job – you just seemed to get what I wanted and have been a pleasure to work with too.”

For more information on this project, please visit the Cosmic website.

Help & Care named Making a Mark competition winners

Dorset based charity Help & Care was named as the winner of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC ‘Making a Mark’ competition at a celebration at our recent conference in Salford. They were presented with a special award, created for us by Rowan, an arts centre and charity for learning disabled people.

The Making a Mark competition was a celebration of the vast and diverse social benefits created by Social Enterprise Mark holders, and highlighted interesting examples of how accredited social enterprises are creating considerable social impact within their local communities and in wider society.

Mark Sharman accepting awardOn accepting the award, Mark Sharman, CEO of Help & Care, said  “We were both surprised and delighted to receive this award because it is not a recognition of what we do or how we do it.  It is about the most important thing which is what impact are we having on the lives of people and communities.  It is a recognition of our great staff and volunteer team who live our values to make a difference.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, said, “We are delighted to announce the long standing Social Enterprise Mark holder Help & Care as the ‘Making a Mark’ competition winners.  They won because they not only help people who want something different and better out of life, they can also demonstrate clearly how they are making a difference to people’s lives.  Well done to Mark and his team.”

Selected from over a network of over 200 accredited social enterprises, Help & Care was shortlisted alongside 6 other organisations, including Golf Environment Organization and Iridescent Ideas. Following a public vote and a separate vote by the independent Certification Panel (both accounting for 50% of the final result), the result was a close call, with not much to seperate all the well deserving finalists. We therefore decided to announce a runner up – this was awarded to Welsh community transport provider Llanwrtyd Wells Community Transport.

We invited Mark Cotton FRSA to present the award, and he commended all the finalists on their achievements and congratulated them on making the shortlist, before presenting certificates to all the finalists who were in attendance at the conference.

L-R: Laura Burns (LWTC), Mark Sharman (Help&Care), Mark Cotton FRSA, Mona Karraoui (GEO), Gareth Hart (Iridescent Ideas)

L-R: Laura Burns (LWTC), Mark Sharman (Help&Care), Mark Cotton FRSA, Mona Karraoui (GEO), Gareth Hart (Iridescent Ideas)

We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the competition finalists:

  • ShortlistCockpit Arts
  • Eden Project
  • Golf Environment Organization
  • Help & Care
  • Iridescent Ideas
  • Llanwrtyd Wells Community Transport
  • Work West


Fusion21 Shortlisted in CIPS Supply Management Awards 2016

Social Enterprise Nominated in ‘Best Contribution to the Reputation of Procurement’ category

Social Enterprise Mark holder and procurement organisation Fusion21 has made the shortlist in the Chartered Institute of Procurement (CIPS) Supply Management Awards 2016.

Apprentices gain experience of visiting a live construction site, thanks to Fusion21’s Construction Futures initiative – and its commitment to supporting the creation of social value

Apprentices gain experience of visiting a live construction site, thanks to Fusion21’s Construction Futures initiative – and its commitment to supporting the creation of social value

Announced as a finalist in the ‘Best Contribution to the Reputation of Procurement’ category, Fusion21 is one of two organisations nominated for the award – which recognises procurement activities that contribute to the public good. These prestigious awards are respected as a benchmark for excellence, and honour UK organisations and individuals working within the procurement and supply chain industry.

Fusion21 has a sustainable business model which complies with the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 and enables social value through the procurement process. Members include registered providers, local authorities, education providers and the NHS.

Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21, said: “The CIPS Supply Management Awards recognise best practice in the industry – competition is tough and it’s fantastic to be nominated alongside big brands working within the private and public sectors.”

“As a national social enterprise we support public sector organisations to deliver efficiencies, and create social value within local communities. Our approach to procurement leads to a variety of positive social outcomes – from job creation and tackling unemployment, to reducing re-offending and supporting wider community regeneration.”

Fusion21 has generated around £56 million of community impact across the country, and created more than 2,500 jobs. Earlier this year, the social enterprise won the ‘Driving Value for Money’ category in the first Cabinet Office Social Value Awards.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 14th September, 2016. A list of the award nominees and categories can be found here on the CIPS Supply Management Award website.

New Media Programme for Vulnerable Adults Living in Woolwich

In July, Social Enterprise Mark holder Chocolate Films launches a large scale media and film-making programme in the heart of Woolwich for disadvantaged residents of the borough.

They are are offering people who have complex issues such as substance misuse and mental health issues, as well as those experiencing difficulties finding housing, childcare and employment, a range of training and skills opportunities in media. Chocolate Films will support and train up to 20 people from across Greenwich Borough.

Participants will gain practical film-making skills with professional filmmakers on the latest digital equipment, including sessions on tablet and smartphone film-making, social media and digital marketing, interview and presentation techniques. They will be trained in PAT testing and will receive AQA accreditation as part of the programme.

Chocolate Films hope that participants on the workshops will see a meaningful and positive long term effect on their lives, transforming their confidence and opportunities for the future. They are working in conjunction with Lifeline and CGL, who are experts in supporting vulnerable participants and who will be offering recruitment, advice and guidance throughout the programme.

The programme has been borne out of the success of the 2 and a half year programme where Chocolate Films trained a number of Greenwich based participants in setting up their own film-making social enterprise. The success of this project can be witnessed in Mark and Christine, who after starting our training with no experience in film-making, have now set up their own social enterprise partnership SElect18.

Mark explains, “Being involved in Chocolate Films workshops has helped my recovery beyond any words I can summon; indeed, I struggled so much with social phobia that I doubt I’d have been able to express myself before my involvement with Chocolate Films. The film-making process has helped me overcome these issues with social phobia and awkwardness and to realise that one of my strengths is actually in social settings with an ability to communicate. A lot of this happened in film planning sessions and later during filming and editing. The sort of change I experienced cannot happen in the normal therapeutic setting I’m used to, I needed the challenging but safe, real life scenarios of being involved in film-making. Social phobias and anxiety is a very common issue for those recovering from substance use and dependence, and is often the cause of relapse.”

Chocolate Films is a film production company based in South London that works with disadvantaged people to help them improve their lives through developing media and communication skills. Commenting on the new project, Rachel Wang, CoDirector of Chocolate Films said: “ I am really passionate about offering media skills and training to support and encourage participants as part of their recovery. This was new ground for us 3 years ago, and so I am thrilled that we now have the expertise to continue to offer these workshops to participants in the borough of Greenwich.”

Fusion21 Invests £200,000 in Big Issue Invest Scheme

Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 has recently partnered with fellow Mark holder Big Issue Invest – investing £200,000 in its Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) programme, which provides mentoring and financial support to early stage social businesses across the UK.

The initiative, run by Big Issue Invest – the social investment arm of The Big Issue Group – works alongside aspiring social entrepreneurs who want to make a positive impact in their communities. As a leading investor in the current CSV programme, Fusion21 is providing both funding and business expertise to successful beneficiaries – including assistance with business planning, marketing, and social value advice.

Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21 said: “Through our partnership with Big Issue Invest, we are nurturing a new generation of high-growth ventures, which can deliver both social and financial returns.”

“This project enables us to act as a social investor within the communities of Fusion21 members – and aligns with our purpose as a social enterprise, as we continue to create and drive social impact in communities through investment and our own activities.”

John Montague, Managing Director of Big Issue Invest said: “Our partnership with Fusion21 has enabled us to offer real support and investment to social businesses that are making a significant difference to the wellbeing of people and communities across the UK.”

Fusion21 Hospice Quality Partnership

The social value created by Hospice Quality Partnership benefits people of all ages across hospices across the UK

A total of £1,350,000 has been invested into the CSV programme since its launch in 2014. The programme has supported more than 30 social businesses such as Change Please, who train formerly homeless people to be baristas at coffee carts across London; Bite the Ballot, a business that tries to engage marginalised young people in politics; and Hospice Quality Partnership, who were recently awarded a runners-up honour at the Cabinet Office Social Investment Awards.

The Hospice Quality Partnership (HQP) was set up as an innovative, unique, commercial collaboration between local hospices, determined to maximise value for hospice care across the UK. Through collective buying and sharing of data, HQP is on target to save its 55 partners £1m in direct costs this year – enough to run an entire small day care hospice for a year.

Tracey O’Keefe, the Managing Director of HQP said: “The hospice sector faces unprecedented challenges due to rapidly rising demand, increasing complexity of care and inequality of access – but the Big Issue Invest CSV programme has made a huge difference to our ability to direct more funding to patients and their families.”

All hands on deck for Dementia Awareness

Social Enterprise Mark holder John Taylor Hospice’s month-long campaign for dementia awareness came to an end this week. Here are the highlights.


Several local businesses joined forces at the beginning of May to support John Taylor Hospice in becoming more dementia-friendly. The hospice’s campaign coincided with a nationwide effort to shine the spotlight on dementia care and featured a range of events and activities to raise awareness of the disease.

Head of Community Investment Marcus Cox explained the significance of dementia awareness for those providing end of life care: “Dementia currently affects 60,000 people in the West Midlands. As part of our commitment to Taylor-made care, it’s important that we make sure our hospice is as much a home from home for those living with dementia as it is for all of our patients and visitors.”

“This means making changes around the hospice to create a safer and more welcoming environment for those with dementia – thing like appropriate signage, contrasting furnishings and choices of fixtures may have an impact, so it’s important that we get it right.”

Lloyds_windmills_-_web_mediumThroughout May, local businesses helped John Taylor Hospice to respond to the needs of people living with dementia by raising funds and volunteering. “More than £6,000 was donated to the hospice in May as part of our Windmills of Your Mind campaign,” said Marcus. “On top of that, we’ve been privileged to welcome volunteers through our doors to complete a range of painting and decorating tasks, totalling more than 700 hours of work.
“We estimate that altogether they have saved the hospice a further £5,250.”

As the curtains came down on May’s campaign, Marcus reflected on a month of activities and thanked all involved: “We have nothing but praise for the local businesses who have played such a pivotal role in raising these funds and volunteering around the hospice. Thanks to the help and support we’ve received from Lloyds in Colmore Row and Sutton Coldfield, Jaguar Landrover, Dementia Friends, Interserve, Stadco, Cemex, Aston Labs, Empire Cinema, Melbicks Garden Centre and Tesco New Oscott, we now have much more to offer people living with dementia and their families. Thank you.”

To make a donation, or for more information on John Taylor Hospice’s current and upcoming campaigns, click here:

Westway Trust #CultureMakers

Social Enterprise Mark holder Westway Trust are giving young people aged 16 – 24 the power and the money (up to £400) to bring a creative project to life.

The Trust is now recruiting for a second group of #CultureMakers, providing:

  • Mentoring and training from creative professionals
  • Inspiration through a range of creative activities chosen by you
  • Showcases and promotion
  • Opportunities to make industry connections
  • Rewards for participation
  • Support and guidance all the way from the #CultureMakers project team
  • Bespoke support from a number of arts organisations
  • Up to £400 funding for your project

To apply, fill out a simple on line application at by 10am on 13 June.

Pluss named as ‘Building Better Opportunities’ lead partner

Social Enterprise Mark holder Pluss has been successful with five stage one applications for the ‘Building Better Opportunities’ programme across South West England and West Yorkshire.

‘Building Better Opportunities’ is a project jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. It focuses on promoting social inclusion, and driving local jobs and growth.

Pluss will now be working with local partners and stakeholders on stage two bids which, if successful, will allow them to maximise the impact of £21million in funding over three years to support people with disabilities, mental health issues, ex offenders, troubled families, and black, Asian and ethnic minority groups.
The five stage one areas are:

  • PlussCornwall and Isles of Scilly
  • South and East Cornwall
  • Devon, Plymouth and Torbay
  • Somerset
  • Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield

Pluss is currently a prime provider of services for the Department for Work and Pensions and aims to build its impact across South West England and West Yorkshire aligned to devolution.

Pluss Chief Executive, Steve Hawkins, said “Pluss is aiming to be the provider of choice to support thousands of disadvantaged people across the South West, West Yorkshire and neighbouring regions into sustainable employment.”

“Working with the Big Lottery Fund is a proud moment for Pluss and our partners. This result confirms that our partnership approach has the potential to deliver significant positive social change at a time when devolution means local areas are taking on more responsibilities for their own future.”

Successful outcomes at stage two will see delivery of these programmes begin in early 2017.

For more information please contact Geraldine Scott-Smith, Communications Manager, on 07766 367267 or via email.

Liverpool Social Economy Panel welcomes Minister for Civil Society

Social Enterprise Network (SEN) recently welcomed Rob Wilson MP, the Minister for Civil Society, to address its new Social Economy Panel in Liverpool, on Thursday 12th May.

Leading figures in the local social economy, including representatives from the Heseltine Institute, Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 and others, met with Rob Wilson MP, to discuss the growing social and community enterprise sector in the City Region – and how this can be developed and sustained for the future.

SEN LiverpoolSEN has led the way on social economy issues in the region in recent years, and in the last 12 months has launched its Masterclass programme of business advice for social entrepreneurs, in addition to the Liverpool Soup project to fund new social projects. Its new Social Economy Panel will be meeting regularly to work on new initiatives for the region, whilst also promoting the brilliant work being done by social enterprises locally.

Rosie Jolly, Chief Executive of SEN, said: “It was great to welcome the Minister for Civil Society to the city to see first-hand some of the work that our members are doing, and to discuss with the panel of practitioners some ways of improving and expanding their service provision. Our members and associates are working hard to improve lives and it is fantastic to see government taking more of an interest in the work they do.”

While in Liverpool, Rob Wilson MP took the opportunity to promote the Cabinet Office’s current call for evidence on mission-led businesses. The Social Economy Panel is making a joint submission to the call for evidence, and is keen to ensure that the mission-led business review is an opportunity to help the social enterprise sector in Liverpool and beyond.

Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21, said: “As a national social enterprise, Fusion21 is committed to supporting the creation of social value within Liverpool and across the UK – this can range from tackling worklessness, to supporting apprenticeships, or reducing reoffending.”

“We work closely with the Social Economy Panel to develop and share innovation in social value policy and practice – and meeting Rob Wilson MP was a fantastic opportunity to showcase what is being achieved by ourselves, and other organisations within the city.”

Responses to the Cabinet Office’s Call for Evidence can be made at:


Social Enterprise Network supports the development and growth of social entrepreneurship across the north west of England and north Wales, raising both levels of engagement and trading ability of social enterprise businesses to enhance their economic viability, sustainability, social and environmental impact and contribution to the local economy. For more information, please visit


Dying Matters Awareness Week

Join John Taylor Hospice for Dying Matters Awareness Week

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice has joined with a group of other local hospices, doctors, hospitals, charities, arts organisations and businesses to hold events across Birmingham during Dying Matters Awareness Week (9th – 15th May). The hospice is asking local people to share their hopes and dreams on ‘Before I die’ walls.

The group, BrumYODO (a local take on the Dying Matters slogan you only die once), is hoping the events will encourage conversation around death, dying and bereavement.

BrumYODO_Press release_photo

The John Taylor Hospice team will be in Erdington Library on Monday 9th May between 9.30am-4.30pm and Erdington High Street on Wednesday 11th May between 10am-12pm, where everyone is invited to add their ambitions to the ‘Before I die’ walls. BrumYODO is hosting other events around the city including storytelling, talks, a death disco, arts and crafts and daily death cafes.

During the week, John Taylor Hospice is holding a Death Cafe at its Moments Café at Holloway Circus in Birmingham city centre. The Death Cafe, on Thursday 12th May between 10am-12pm, is open to anyone who wants to join the conversation. Subjects can include favourite funeral tunes, how to talk honestly with your loved ones and choices at end of life. Places are free but are limited by numbers so need to be booked here. Visitors to Moments will also be able to add their thoughts to the ‘Before I die’ wall which will be in the café on Thursday May 12th and Friday 13th May.

The BrumYODO group will be in Fletchers Bar in Kings Heath each afternoon during Dying Matters Week with a host of stands covering areas such as funeral planning, will writing and coffin decorating.

The hospice will also be holding mindfulness practice and Benjamin’s Brothers prostate cancer awareness sessions at Fletchers Bar on Tuesday 10th May and Wednesday 11th May, and hospice staff will be joining other health professionals for an awareness day at Heartlands Hospital on Friday 13th May.

John Taylor Hospice CEO Penny Venables said: “Talking about death and dying helps to remove some of the fear and uncertainty. If you know the choices made by your loved ones, it can help when you are being asked to make difficult decisions.

BrumYODO and Dying Matters Week are all about encouraging these conversations. We hope as many people as possible will contribute to our ‘Before I Die’ walls and will join us for our Death Café. If you can’t make these events, there are plenty more being arranged by BrumYODO during the week so please check the website for full details.”

For more on John Taylor Hospice visit and for details on all BrumYODO events visit

“It’s my refuge, where I find peace”

A patient’s view of John Taylor Hospice

Victoria Rawnsley from Great Barr describes the lasting impact of her stays at John Taylor Hospice’s In-Patient Unit. Victoria is on her third visit to Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice after meeting the In-Patient Unit team for the first time in January.

Victoria_Rawnsley_with_staff_nurse_Wendy_Simmons_-_web_detailThe 45 year old had been feeling really low and wasn’t sure what to expect. By the time she went home, Victoria said her mood had lifted considerably and she felt more confident.

“The staff were brilliant, they couldn’t do enough for me, I came out feeling ten feet taller” said Victoria, who was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time last year.

The hospice’s In-Patient Unit is designed to be a home from home. Regular and one-off breaks are for people who, like Victoria, are over 18 and have a palliative diagnosis. Breaks, known as respite care, can be planned in advance and throughout the year.

“When I’m here, they make me feel like a queen,” said Victoria. “Whatever I need, whenever I need it, nothing is too much trouble.”

John Taylor offers up to eight weeks of respite per year with at least six weeks between each stay.

“I look forward to coming so much. It’s my refuge, where I find peace,” said Victoria.

Victoria is hoping to marry her partner Barry later this year. She explained how they both benefit from the free respite care service offered by John Taylor Hospice.

“It’s a nice break for me,” she added. “And it’s a break for him, too.”

Staff nurse Wendy Simmons said: “It’s always a pleasure to welcome Victoria back to John Taylor Hospice. It’s her time to be pampered and experience specialist care 24 hours a day.

While she’s here, Victoria will also have the opportunity to talk to our nurses, doctors and other specialists about how she’s feeling, what works and what could be improved or changed.”

Head of community investment Marcus Cox said: “It costs £465 to provide one day of respite care to someone like Victoria. All donations – big and small – help to give life back to those in need.”

The John Taylor Hospice team keeps regular givers informed on how their gifts are being spent through updates by email, post or online. Marcus added By investing in John Taylor Hospice regularly, local people can ‘Taylor-make’ a difference, now and in the future. It’s quick and easy to set up a direct debit payment to John Taylor Hospice. Visit”

For more information on the hospice see

Digital leadership programme to create a new generation of business leaders

Social Enterprise Mark holder Cosmic recently announced the launch of their new Digital Leadership training programme.

Cosmic has launched this new programme in response to research carried out both locally and nationally looking at Digital Leadership in business. The evidence suggests that in many cases there is little or no real understanding of what Digital Leadership actually is and how it will impact on their business. The research identified that many businesses are investing in digital skills, but businesses are yet to address this issue at senior executive and Board levels.

The programme will be led by Cosmic’s own Digital Leaders Julie Hawker and Kate Doodson, who bring over 20 years’ experience of working within the Digital sector.

Julie said: “Many of the businesses we’ve been working with in recent months have identified a need to address skills development at senior levels, which is why we’ve taken time to research and respond to this issue. Whilst lots of businesses have been addressing the need to ‘digitise’ their operations, not many have yet truly embraced the digital transformation of their business by putting digital in the mix for new services, products and customer experience. This requires a new mindset and approach by our business leaders and decision-makers”.

Those engaged in the programme will get access to the latest national and international strategic thinking on digital leadership and be exposed to new business models help to develop ways to increase productivity in their business. Learning will cover subjects ranging from the digital workforce, business innovation, digital disruption, strategy and change management.

As an introduction to the programme, Cosmic are running free taster sessions – the first two being held in May, you can find out more and how to book via their website.

As part of the programme, Cosmic have produced a White Paper on Digital Leadership. The report provides reflections on the challenges which leaders and managers face in dealing with the changes which digital technologies are bringing. To access a copy please contact Vicky at Cosmic.

Kate Doodson said: “The phrase Digital leadership will become common parlance soon, as it will be a way to demonstrate progressive and engaged leadership in a digital world. Gartner suggests that a quarter of all businesses will lose their market share by 2017, if they don’t embrace digital, so suddenly it has become a business imperative. It’s time for business leaders in the South West to grasp this nettle and understand how to bring digital into strategic thinking to create a stronger future economy for our region”.

Conference_speakersJulie Hawker will be speaking on the subject of Digital Leadership at our Standing up to Scrutiny conference in Salford on 9th June 2016.

Please click here to book your tickets.

Applications to become Supply Shack’s new charity partner now open

Social Enterprise Mark holder Supply Shack is now welcoming applications from charities interested in becoming their new charity partner, to work together make a positive impact on the local community.

Supply Shack is a social enterprise supplying office products and services, specialising in office supplies, design, branded merchandise, print, signage, and exhibition stands.

The company is committed to putting their profits to good causes. Every year, Supply Shack partners with a local charity voted for by their customers and supports them throughout the year. The support ranges from donating office products, print, signage to donating staff time to help organise charity events. Since its establishment, Supply Shack has been working closely with charities in various sectors and has created considerable social impact through partnership activities. Some of Supply Shack’s past charity partners are Life Education Wessex, Diverse Abilities Plus, BCHA, and Lewis-Manning Hospice.

“It has been fantastic having Supply Shack’s support as their Charity of the Year for the last twelve months; they have helped us in lots of different ways; from taking part in fundraising challenge events, to sponsoring our Great Dorset Bake Sale initiative, and providing us with free printed advertising materials! They also supported us with our Toy Appeal in December helping us source toys for the disabled children we support to make their Christmas time really special. As a Social Enterprise, Supply Shack endeavour to put their profits back into good causes in the community which has a real impact for local people – it has been a real pleasure working with them!”, Beccy Payne from Diverse Abilities Plus comments on their partnership with Supply Shack.

“Helping good causes is at the heart of our business. It’s the foundation the company was built on and the reason that selling business supplies has become more interesting and worthwhile. It’s a simple idea; buy from us and we’ll do our best to help others on your behalf. Office supplies and print all wrapped up in a bundle of good karma!” says Caroline Pope, Director of Supply Shack.

This is a great opportunity for charities to receive needed funds and support from one of the most active social enterprises in Dorset.

Charities are invited to download the application form from Supply Shack’s website and submit it before 30th April. The voting period will last for 7 days, and the new charity partnership will last for a year until May 2017.

The Big Issue Celebrate 200 Million Sales

On 7th April 2016 The Big Issue celebrated 200 million sales in Britain.

In almost 25 years since its founding, the iconic magazine has changed the publishing landscape and the lives of thousands and thousands of people, working on the simple ‘A hand up, not a hand out’ mantra.

The Big Issue is not a charity, it is not a governmental agency, yet in that time it has allowed the poorest in Britain to earn more than £100 million. Without The Big Issue that huge figure would have had to come from begging, crime or the Exchequer. It is calculated that this money has resulted in an additional return for society of almost £500 million. This is through a simple business solution to a societal problem.

“We’re so proud to be able to mark this occasion,” said editor Paul McNamee. “When John Bird established The Big Issue in 1991 he wanted to offer the poorest in society a means to earn their own living, to work their way back up from the bottom, to see a future. John always thinks big but I don’t think even he would have seen 200 million sales. We’re delighted to be here, to be a print title that is putting on sales as others decline and to remain a vital force for the men and women who want to earn but have seen normal life close down.”

Big Issue MD, Russell Blackman added ”200 million copies sold is an incredible land mark and testament to all the vendors that have stood out there, in any weather, running their own micro-enterprises with a sense of dignity. The social impact that has been created by these sales is profound.’’

Big Issue 200million eventTo mark this fantastic date, The Big Issue has teamed up with prolific street artist Ben Eine who is most notable for his alphabet lettering on shop shutters and walls, to design a very special edition front cover of the magazine. Eine, one of Britain’s best urban artists, has created an exclusive cover using his unique lettering style. In collaboration with Eine and Jealous Gallery in Shoreditch, The Big Issue celebrated the landmark 200 millionth copy of the magazine sold with a special one-off exhibition of three new Ben Eine editions produced and hosted by Jealous Gallery.

At the public opening on Friday 8th April, Eine’s new prints were officially launched to fans and collectors alongside a selection of his previous print editions, produced in the Jealous Print Studio. A percentage of sales are going to The Big Issue to help with their on-going mission to help vendors help themselves.

“I am honoured to be able to be in a position where I can give something back and The Big Issue is an organisation that I feel passionate about. Any of us can become homeless pretty easily” said Ben Eine

For more information about the event, please visit The Big Issue website.

Life Echo project helps cancer patient to recall lost memories

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice is using sound therapy to support patients at end of life.

Staff at the hospice have added an innovative well-being project, called Life Echo, to the mix of activities and care services already offered to day hospice visitors. Through a series of one-to-one sessions, participants are encouraged to share their most positive memories of sound which are then recreated into short recordings for their personal use.

JTH Life EchoProstate cancer patient Gerald McCarty was one of the first to complete a Life Echo, shortly after the project launched in 2013. Gerald described how Life Echo touched him at a difficult time in his life and where he is today thanks to Life Echo.

“I’d been in hospital for some scans and when I came out I was not in a good place,” said Gerald, aged 84. “Something wasn’t right. I forgot my wife’s name, I couldn’t spell or write. My whole life was jumbled up and I couldn’t make sense of it. I didn’t enjoy remembering, so I would just choose not to.”

In collaboration with John Taylor Hospice, sound therapist Justin Wiggan supported Gerald to map out his life and recreate his most positive memories as sounds.

“It brought everything to life for me,” said Gerald, who lives in Walmley. “With Justin’s help, I created a timeline of my life, sectioning off blocks of five years. It gave me a way of exploring my memories in a way that felt manageable.”

For the final part of the project, Justin put together a short recording of Gerald’s life, based on his memories. Listening to it for the first time was when Gerald said his memories really began to flow.

“A steam train, the sounds of the brakes on my bicycle, waves on the shore of the Pembrokeshire coast – hearing those sounds that were such a big part of my life was more than therapeutic for me. It helped me to remember more details from those scenes. New memories started coming back to me. It was like someone had turned the radio up.”

JTH Life Echo 2Sound artist and project creator Justin Wiggan said: “It’s exciting to see Life Echo taking on a direction all of its own, supporting patients’ well-being in ways we hadn’t anticipated.

Before taking part in the project, Gerald told us that he struggled to piece his life together, as many of us do. Now he’s in the process of putting together a second Life Echo all on his own, based on our work together and new memories that have emerged.”

Justin delivers Life Echo sessions on a one-to-one basis, helping to create a safe space where people can be open about their feelings and their memories. At the project’s close, the participant is gifted a recording of approximately 20 minutes.

“It’s a very personal experience,” said Justin. “What we’re creating is a sound portrait of a person’s life through which our aim is to increase well-being in patients receiving end of life care.”

Activities with sound sit alongside other well-being, bereavement support and counselling services offered by John Taylor Hospice to people across Birmingham and the West Midlands.

“As Gerald has shown us, a Life Echo can also help people to share their experiences and recall new memories,” added Justin. “We hope that others will have the opportunity to take part in the project, now and in the future.”


For more information on the hospice please visit

Change Makers to drive down pollution during Cleaner Air Action Fortnight

100 Change Makers will be out at air pollution hotspots across six central London boroughs on the 9th and 16th March to ask drivers to turn off their engines when parked in a bid to drive down air pollution.

The initiative, which harnesses the power of local residents and workers to drive change, is being led by Cross River Partnerships’ Clean Air Better Business programme which is supported through the Mayor’s Air Quality fund. The initiative is in collaboration with Social Enterprise Mark holder Global Action Plan, the UK’s leading environmental behaviour change charity and Kings College London University.

Global Action PlanThe campaign aims to reduce Londoners’ exposure to air pollution by educating drivers about air quality. Wearing hi-vis Air Quality Champion vests, the Change Makers will explain the role of drivers in reducing vehicle emissions and ask parked drivers to turn their engines off. They will be also given informational leaflets to help them understand their role in making the air we breathe healthier for all Londoners. Vehicle emissions emit pollutants which are linked to asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and cancer. The long term impact of pollution particularly affects pregnant women and children.

 “Cross River Partnership’s Clean Air Better Business programme aims to draw awareness both to the issue of air quality in general and specifically the impact that idling can have on local air quality. This concerted effort across our participating Business Improvement District and boroughs is designed to build capacity in training up to 100 change makers and have a beneficial effect on air quality in these areas” explained Uto Patrick, CRP Air Quality Champion.

Caroline Watson, Senior Partner at Global Action Plan, said“Cleaner Air Action Fortnight aims to educate drivers on the role they can play in improving London’s air quality.  Given the impact on our health, this is an urgent issue that demands collective action.  By arranging Cleaner Air Action Fortnight across six boroughs we aim to draw attention to a problem that is costing Londoners their health and the economy £3.7bn p.a.*”

Cllr Heather Acton, Westminster City Council cabinet member for parking and sustainability, said: “Engine idling is a major problem in London and is a priority for the council to help address air pollution. It is common sense that turning off your engine is good for air quality and the environment, but it also makes financial sense for drivers. That is why I am pleased that so many Change Makers are joining me in Westminster to get out onto the streets and ask drivers to switch their engines off.”

The scheme is part funded by the Mayor of London’s £20 million Air Quality Fund (MAQF), which has granted £330,000 to the Clean Air Better Business project. The Mayor’s funding has enabled them to deliver a whole host of air quality projects such as this across central London over the last three years.

Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, said: “Protecting the well-being of Londoners is vital and projects such as this, coupled with the Mayor’s plans for the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2020, are part of the bold measures we need to win London’s pollution battle.”

For more information please visit the Global Action Plan website.


* House of Commons Briefing Paper May 2015: Public expenditure by country and region 2013-14, London £9,866 per head.  Figure based on population of 8,633,000 Londoners.

Cascade spring training programme

Social Enterprise Mark holder Cascade has recently published their Spring training programme.

Workshops include:

  • Personal Effectiveness: Emotional Intelligence & Communicating
    with Impact
  • Attracting, Recruiting & Managing Volunteers
  • Writing a Winning Bid
  • Tendering for Services: preparing & presenting your call for bids

Please click here to download the full programme.

Full day workshops cost £149 and run from 9.30am to 4.30pm unless specified otherwise, refreshments (& sandwich lunch at all full day events) are provided.


3 bookings for full day courses made at the same time by the same organisation will be discounted by 10% (can’t be used in conjunction with other offers)

* Special discount on Strategic Planning for Trustees & Senior Managers course in Wimborne: £75 for clients of Ward Goodman, members of Poole CVS, members of Bournemouth CVS (1 bursary place at £25 will be available for each event for organisations with an income of less than £25k per annum)

Cascade offers a bursary scheme for charities and other small groups with an income of less than £25k p.a.

For full information, please visit the Cascade website.


Green travellers rejoice!

Co-wheels-Car-ClubSocial Enterprise Mark holder Co-wheels car club has launched a new scheme to enable low emission travel in and around the Lake District.

Hybrid cars with roof racks can now be booked online and picked up directly from train stations in Cumbria, so it’s easy to take a bike up on the train and explore the area.

Visit the Co-wheels website to find out more about the scheme and claim your £10 free driving credit:

Co-wheels 2

Global Action Plan recognised for Water Explorers project

Social Enterprise Mark holder Global Action Plan won the Community and Education Award at the recent Waterwise Water Efficiency Awards for its Water Explorer Project.

Water ExplorerWater Explorer is a free programme for schools to learn about water and the environment, supported by the HSBC Water Programme. The programme empowers future generations through fun, interactive water saving Missions and provides the platform for students to grow into global citizens and ambassadors for positive change. Over the last year, Water Explorers aged 8-14 from 11 countries have taken bold and powerful action to save precious water.

The Waterwise biannual UK Water Efficiency Awards are the most high profile awards scheme in the UK to recognise the water efficiency achievements of the public, private and third sector organisations who promote water efficiency. For more information please visit the Waterwise website.

To find out more about the project, please visit the Water Explorer website.

Selby Trust honoured at City of London Sustainable City Awards

SustainableCityAwardsSocial Enterprise Mark holder The Selby Trust in Tottenham was announced as runner-up in the Building Sustainable Communities category at the City of London Sustainable City Awards. These awards are given to organisations which have demonstrated excellence in sustainable development.

Moussa Amine Sylla, Green Hub Coordinator at the Selby Centre, said: “I always believed that the planet and the humans should be the first beneficiaries of any enterprising venture. Each business should start with those elements before even thinking about money. This is exactly the sentiments that the Green hub at the Selby Centre have given me. Being short-listed at the Sustainable City Awards is an immense recognition for this Project.”

Rt Hon David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham, who recently gave an interview about his thoughts on The Selby Trust and The Selby Centre, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to hear The Selby Trust has been shortlisted for the Sustainable City Awards. The Selby Trust do fantastic work at The Selby Centre, and I am pleased the work they have done around the green and sustainability agenda has been recognised.”

John Taylor Hospice in Love Your Local Hospice TV Ad Campaign

Birmingham-based Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice has joined with 15 other hospices from the West Midlands to create a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance hospices play in their local communities.

John Taylor has worked with hospices including St Giles, who operate in the West Midlands and Staffordshire, Acorns Children’s Hospice who operate in Birmingham, Worcester, and Walsall and Birmingham St Mary’s on the ‘Love Your Local Hospice’ campaign. A series of TV advertisements will be shown on ITV over a 10 day period, commencing on Sunday 14th February, which will showcase the love, care, friendship and support each of the hospices provides to patients, young and old, and their families.

Each year, hospices across the West Midlands area care for over 26,000 adult patients and support over 1,500 children and their families.

Diane Parkes, Head of Brand and Media at John Taylor Hospice, said: “Working together with our local hospices is a fantastic way for us all to share a very important message – that hospices provide specialist and ‘Taylor-made’ palliative and end of life care – whenever and wherever it is needed.”

For more information about the ‘Love your Local Hospice’ campaign and a full list of the hospices involved, please visit  For more information on John Taylor Hospic, please visit


Free carer workshops in Dorset

Social Enterprise Mark holder Help & Care has recently launched a new timetable for its free carer workshops for carers.

There are over 50,000 people caring for loved ones in Dorset alone. That’s one in 15 people looking after someone close to them with very little extra support. Many of these people can feel very isolated in their caring role and can find looking for information and support incredibly difficult.

These people are in need of help and that’s why Help & Care are organising these free workshops, aimed at advising people on certain issues such as first aid & safety, memory loss/dementia and legal and financial matters. Help & Care is working in partnership with Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and Dorset County Council to provide this important, free service.

See below for a timetable of classes for 2016. For more information, please visit the Help & Care website.Help & Care

Fusion21 among winners of first Cabinet Office Social Value Awards

Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 has won the ‘Driving Value for Money’ category in the first Cabinet Office Social Value Awards.

The awards – which recognise and celebrate best practice in commissioning and providing social value – were announced at the third Social Value Summit, on Thursday 11th February in London.

Shortlisted alongside Gloucestershire County Council and Data Performance Consultancy, national procurement consortium Fusion21 was selected for demonstrating a clear focus on achieving social value within available budgets, backed up by evidence.

Through a collaborative approach with its membership, Fusion21 has delivered c£125m savings through the procurement process, created over 2300 jobs, and generated around £56m in community impact across the country.

Commenting on the win, Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21, said: “Fusion21 is committed to generating social value which supports the growth, stabilisation and development of communities – whilst also delivering intelligent procurement solutions and cost savings to our members.

“Our approach to social value seeks to create maximum benefit for communities at a localised level, creating a range of positive outcomes – from job creation, to training and wider community regeneration. We are really proud to have been recognised for our contributions, and winning in such a strong category.”

For more information about the Social Value Awards, please visit the Cabinet Office website.

Salford leading the way nationally for health and wellbeing services

Two Salford services dedicated to giving people the tools to make improvements to their health and wellbeing have been selected to take part in a national programme funded by NHS England. Being Well Salford and Social Enterprise Mark holder Unlimited Potential (in partnership with Inspiring Communities Together) have been chosen as two of the five local sites selected to participate in the Realising the Value programme, led by Nesta  and the Health Foundation and in partnership with the consortium Voluntary Voices.

Through the programme, the organisations will enhance their services across Salford while championing their innovative models for health and wellbeing.

The Realising the Value programme will focus on making person and community-centered approaches a reality. The programme is about strengthening the case for change, identifying evidence-based approaches that engage people in their own health and care, and developing tools to support implementation across the NHS and local communities. It will develop the participating services and, on completion, the work of the participating sites will be shared nationally as examples of how best to achieve the vision of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

Unlimited Potential improves well- being by focusing on the strengths of local people, rather than their needs. For instance, one project is focused on improving the well-being of disadvantaged children by finding new ways of working with their fathers. This work led to Salford Dadz – a network of local fathers who have created male-friendly spaces where positive role models talk openly ‘shoulder to shoulder’, as well as fun dad-child bonding activities.

Unlimited Potential is working in partnership with Inspiring Communities Together, a local community organisation that works to engage older people and their carers – again, focusing on an individual’s strengths.

Chris Dabbs, Director of Innovation at Unlimited Potential said: “The opportunity to work with leading national organisations participating in the Realising the Value programme is one that we could not turn down. Having two of the five sites selected locally in Salford reflects the quality of innovation and practice that exists here in engaging with local people in the city.”

John Taylor Hospice CEO leaves “best job in Birmingham”

Kate Phipps, CEO of Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice is to leave the Birmingham-based social enterprise after five years at its helm.

Kate PhippsKate, who successfully steered the business from its spin-out from the NHS into a thriving independent community interest company, is to take up the post of CEO at Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice in South Wales.

“Leaving the NHS could have posed a lot of uncertainty for John Taylor Hospice. I am proud of the way staff have forged ahead to ensure a successful business with patient care at the very heart of all we do,” said Kate.

“In 2016 we are celebrating our fifth birthday as an independent dynamic social enterprise and I would like to say a huge thank you to the families and patients, volunteers, our staff, GP commissioners and all our supporters, who put their trust in John Taylor Hospice.”

Kate joined John Taylor Hospice as CEO in 2011 and during that time has seen the launch of new clinics and services, the doubling of patient contacts and new contracts for care. Always keen to lead from the front, last year Kate joined Team JTH to raise more than £14,000 skydiving for the hospice.

“It has been an incredible five years. The position of CEO at John Taylor Hospice truly is the best job in Birmingham,” added Kate.

John Taylor Hospice was founded in 1910 in Birmingham and has provided expert palliative and end of life care in the heart of the city for more than 100 years. Its staff and volunteers care for people at home and at the hospice where there is an In-Patient Unit, day hospice and clinics.

Chairman Clive Wilkinson said: “We thank Kate for her work for John Taylor Hospice and wish her well for the future. John Taylor Hospice is now in a secure position, with robust and exciting plans for the next five years to ensure we continue to provide the very best of care. The process of recruiting a new CEO starts today and we look forward to meeting some excellent candidates.”

The job description and role profile for the Chief Executive Officer vacancy at John Taylor Hospice can be found on the hospice’s website. The closing date for applications is Monday 15th February.

For more information on the hospice please visit the John Taylor Hospice website.

Stakeholder survey – delivering sport for prevention and desistance from crime

Social Enterprise Mark holder 2nd Chance Group and the National Alliance of Sport for the Desistance of Crime (NASDC) are looking for respondents to please spare a few minutes to complete a short questionnaire to help them understand the wider value of sport and physical activity on the desistance of crime.

They are interested in hearing from all stakeholders across the following areas:

  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Community sentences
  • Custodial sentences
  • Resettlement and services for people leaving prison

The survey is part of a wider consultation towards developing a sector wide Theory of Change. Working in partnership with New Philanthropy Capital, the NASDC aims to gauge the range of activities and interventions available and their wider impact.

The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete (depending on the depth of your answers). Please click here to take part in the survey.

You can find out more about the NASDC here.

Vote for Ideal for All in “People’s Choice Award”

Social Enterprise Mark holder Ideal for All has been shortlisted for the prestigious “People’s Choice Award” in the Sandwell & West Birmingham CCG 2016 Equality Awards.

Ideal for All (IFA) empowers and enables disabled and disadvantaged people and their families, carers, support workers and communities to be active citizens and to fully participate in society. IFA includes users in decision making around the development of services and brings people facing similar health issues together to help them cope with their disabilities and reduce dependency on the NHS. It creates a safe and relaxed environment where individuals can connect with people who understand what daily life with an illness is like.

Please click here to vote for Ideal for All for the People’s Choice Award.

Ideal for All

Free Forest School Training Taster Sessions

Ever wondered what happens in a Forest School session? Interested in learning more about becoming a Forest School practitioner for both children and adults?

Come along to Social Enterprise Mark holder nature workshops’ free Forest School Training Taster Sessions to experience some of the unique aspects of a Forest School session: make things out of natural materials, play woodland games and much much more!

  • Saturday 16th January, Anmos Vale, Bristol, 10am – 1pm
  • Saturday 30th January, Mincing Lake Valley Park, Exeter, 11am – 2pm
  • Saturday 16th January, Idless Woods, Truro Cornwall, 10am – 1pm

Learn from an experienced session leader and have all your questions answered about training to be an outdoor leader. Sessions are free of charge and include a hot meal around the fire.

For more information or to book a space please email [email protected] or call 01209 215211.

nature workshops run Levels 1, 2 & 3 Forest School Training monthly throughout the year. We are also an accredited provider for the 24+ Learning Loan. To find out more about our scheduled 2-day and 5-day training courses, please visit our website:

The Phone Co-op wins national social enterprise award

…and is part of a record breaking social enterprise investment

Social Enterprise Mark holder The Phone Co-op has won the Best Consumer Facing Social Enterprise Award at the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2015.

The Phone Co-op is a consumer co-operative that exists to serve its members, and inspire others with an alternative, better model for business and the economy. It is the UK’s only telecommunications co-operative, procuring fixed and mobile telecommunications services on behalf of its customers, many of whom are also social enterprises.

The Phone Co-op set up its Co-operative and Social Economy Development Fund to support the growth and development of other co-ops and social enterprises around the country. The fund is the main focus for its contribution to the community.

For example, The Phone Co-op has loaned HCT, the social enterprise bus operator, £500K as part of their recently raised £10m funding. This funding, from a variety of social lenders, means a new record for a social enterprise investment in the UK. HCT uses the profits from its commercial work to provide community transport services, training, and community projects. Since its incorporation in 1982, HCT Group has grown to be a large scale social enterprise providing over 20 million passenger trips a year, with around 1000 employees, ten depots spread across London, Yorkshire, the Southwest and the Channel Islands, a fleet of over 500 vehicles and a 2014/15 turnover of £45.4M.

The Phone Co-op is a strong supporter of public transport with over 91% of its business miles undertaken by public transport.

Vivian_by_Phone_Co-op_door“We are happy to be using surplus capital to support another social enterprise that is providing public transport, something we actively try to use, and with an organisation that shares our values. We see social enterprises co-supporting each other in this way as an example of the type of alternative economy we’d like to encourage and grow.” said Vivian Woodell, Chief Executive of The Phone Co-op.

Double award honour for Cosmic CEO

Julie Hawker, CEO of Social Enterprise Mark holder Cosmic and a Social Enterprise Mark Ambassador, was awarded the honour of Women’s Social Enterprise Champion of the Year at the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2015, held on London’s South Bank on 26th November.

Julie Cosmic award pic


These national awards recognise excellence and outstanding achievements by social enterprises – businesses that reinvest their profits, benefitting people and planet. The UK now has more than 70,000 social enterprises, contributing more than £24 billion to the economy each year.

The very next day, Julie also won the Director of the Year Award in the Great Hall at Exeter University at the Venus Devon Awards. This award was judged based on the criteria of an outstanding director or board member of a company with more than 10 employees.

Venus awards 2015

On winning the awards Julie said “I am absolutely thrilled to win these awards, and to be honoured at local and national level in this way is just brilliant. For me it’s very clear recognition of the success of Cosmic over the years, and of the support I’ve had from my fantastic team. Cosmic is the best social enterprise to lead!  And I’ve been supported and inspired by some great women working in social enterprise, and so if winning this award means that I can do the same for other women in the years ahead – well that’s just great!”

The below video features Julie talking about what these awards mean to her and to Cosmic.

Cosmic is an IT and consultancy business, based in Honiton, East Devon, providing services across the South West. Cosmic uses its own resources to develop and deliver brilliant project work benefitting thousands of digitally excluded people. Cosmic pride themselves on being a great value supplier of services, and also on being an ethical business and accredited social enterprise.

Cosmic offers much more than just top quality, affordable and effective services such as websites, social media and SEO. Being a social enterprise means that the profits of their core activity goes towards doing good.

Chairman of Cosmic’s board Dave Ratcliffe commented; “At Cosmic we are all delighted that Julie’s contribution and skills have been recognised; Julie is an inspiring leader who works across many disciplines to great effect. Her well-grounded leadership skills and vision have enabled Cosmic to flourish and I am sure this award will be an inspiration to other women to reach their potential and their goals.”

‘We all deserve clean air’: UK communities take action against air pollution

From January 2016, UK communities will be able to work together to measure air pollution on their streets. This crowdfunded initiative is being set up by Social Enterprise Mark holder Mapping for Change, based at University College London.

Mapping for ChangeCommunity groups of all ages and abilities will collect air quality information using simple but reliable equipment. The amount and variety of equipment supplied will be determined by the funds raised, and will range from small plastic diffusion tubes to high-grade black carbon monitors. Results will be mapped online to create a UK-wide evidence base, comparable with statutory EU guidelines.

Air pollution is a significant killer. Annual figures reveal 7 million deaths worldwide, 60,000 deaths in the UK, and over 9,400 deaths in London alone. Ill-health as a result of air pollution poses serious ramifications for already over-stretched NHS budgets and national productivity. As Alan Andrews, a lawyer from ClientEarth commented, “for every person who dies early from air pollution, many more are made seriously ill, have to visit hospital or take time off work”.

To get involved, community groups can donate to the crowdfunding page. Options begin at £250 for 10 diffusion tubes, a months’ worth of monitoring and analysis, and results mapped online. People of all ages are encouraged to get involved, including school groups.

Louise Francis, Co-director of Mapping for Change, explained that “having access to meaningful evidence on air pollution is vitally important. As well as enabling people to reduce their personal exposure, it boosts communities’ confidence to call for change and get involved in decision making processes.”

Marylebone resident and previous scheme participant Sheila D’Souza commented that her community “feel very empowered and highly motivated to pursue this in the form of an active campaign to make sure that our needs for decent clean air are met”.

Mapping for Change is a wholly owned subsidiary of UCL, working with groups and organisations who want to understand, improve and produce information about the places that matter to them.

For more information, please visit the Mapping for Change website. To make a donation, please visit

Big Issue Invest Supports Next Wave of Top Social Entrepreneurs

Social Enterprise Mark holder Big Issue Invest has revealed the social businesses who have successfully secured investment through its Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) Programme.  CSV is an innovative business support and investment initiative that facilitates growth and development among organisations that are using business solutions to remedy some of society’s biggest challenges throughout the country.

This year, a total of 12 initial investments have been agreed and will be allocated to the following organisations:

  • Activ Zone
  • Bite the Ballot
  • Change Please
  • EPIC Risk Management
  • The Employability Trust
  • Genie in the Gutter
  • Goldfinger Factory
  • Hire Hand
  • Home Services Support
  • Hospice Quality Partnership
  • Off the Scale
  • Specialisterne

A further 5 organisations; Breathe Arts Health Research, Mental Fight Club, Papi’s Pickles, Ruby Moon and Tiny Diner will continue to receive business support.

The CSV Programme is an innovative partnership between Big Issue Invest and Barclays as part of their commitment to impact 5 million young futures by 2015 with investment and support from; Experian, First Ark, Fusion 21, Places for People and the University of Northampton.  The programme is supported by the Social Incubator Fund (Cabinet Office). These social businesses create real and lasting opportunities for people in areas such as: employment, health and well-being, youth engagement and gambling addiction. The programme which is now in its second year opened in May, receiving almost 200 applications.

Nigel KershawNigel Kershaw OBE, Chair of The Big Issue Group remarked, “The CSV programme reflects the ‘hand up not a hand out’ ethos synonymous with The Big Issue organisation through the way it operates.  Each year we find ourselves almost awe-struck at the amount of businesses around the country who are driven by a determination to create a social impact that will positively affect groups who are most vulnerable and marginalised in society. 

The diversity and quality of this year’s cohort is extraordinary, from Off the Scale in Birmingham who work with people dealing with depression and sell vintage clothing to London based Bite the Ballot who have achieved incredible results connecting young people with politics both online and offline.  It has been a real privilege to work with all of them and we look forward to supporting them to grow their business to deliver real and needed social value.”

Big Issue Invest is the social investment arm of The Big Issue, helping prevent poverty and inequality by backing sustainable social enterprises, charities and ventures. It is a specialist provider of finance to social enterprises led by social entrepreneurs having invested £30m since 2005.  36 social businesses (including this year’s investees) will have received finance through the CSV Programme and its predecessor Tech for Good.

For more information about this year’s winners and the CSV programme, please visit

Roots HR celebrates Social Enterprise Day by offering free training

Social Enterprise Mark holder Roots HR CIC is celebrating its 6th year of social impact on Social Enterprise Day on 19th November 2015 by extending their sought-after free training for 2016 with new topics, new locations and more dates. This follows the great success of last year’s training events, all funded through the organisation’s profits.

Roots HR CIC is the UK’s leading provider of HR and health and safety services for social sector employers. They support organisations to achieve four crucial aspects of people management: to comply with employment law, to perform through great people management, to grow through providing training and developing opportunities and to support employees to adapt and move on, usually after redundancy or restructures.

RootsRoots HR are delighted to reinvest their trading surpluses in the development of managers and leaders in social sector organisations by offering free places on their popular and highly effective Essential HR, Recruitment and Selection and Equality and Diversity training courses, tailored to the sector. Delivered by Alison Smith Chartered MCIPD, one of Roots HR’s team of fully qualified HR Consultants and sector specialists, these courses will run in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Nottingham, throughout January – June 2016.

Jan Golding, founder and Chief Executive of Roots HR CIC, says “We are very pleased to considerably extend our free training for 2016 following a strong trading year in ’14-’15. These courses are ideal for new and developing leaders and managers in charities, social enterprises, community and voluntary groups and all forms of not-for-personal-profit organisations.

The competition for places and the consistently high level of feedback we receive about our training mean that we expect to see many people returning from previous events in London, Birmingham and Manchester to engage with new topic areas, whilst our entry-level course, Essential HR, runs in fresh locations for us and we hope will attract new faces”.

To take advantage of these free opportunities, visit the Roots HR website or email [email protected].

Chocolate Films’ Rachel Wang named Entrepreneur of the Year

BBBARachel Wang, co-founder and Director of Social Enterprise Mark holder Chocolate Films was recently awarded the honour of the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Black British Business Awards 2015. The awards celebrate exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black people in businesses operating in the UK.

Rachel was inspired to create her production company Chocolate Films due to the lack of representation of black people on the British screen. She founded the company with three key bold goals from the outset:

  1. to create high quality content for commercial clients
  2. to develop and produce dramas and documentaries that tell the stories that are not currently heard in the media
  3. to enable people who are less represented in the media to learn the skills to tell their stories.

The company is based in Brixton with a team of 12 and run skills-based creative media projects for over 2,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults each year. Rachel is currently producing a project in Greenwich where she is developing a new social enterprise which will employ adults in recovery from addiction issues.

In her acceptance speech Rachel said, “I feel very privileged to be here today. Now I feel incredibly excited to make Chocolate Films even more of a success than it already is, and to strive to inspire people even more with our organisation.”

The Black British Business Awards was held at the London Hilton Park Lane on 20th October 2015 with 500 guests in attendance from business, media and politics. Melanie Eusebe, Chair and Co-founder of the Black British Business Awards said: “I congratulate both Rachel Wang and Clare Eluka on their awards in the Entrepreneur category of the Black British Business Awards. They are role models within the community and demonstrate excellence in the work they do.”

Prestious double award success for Gateway Family Services CIC

Social Enterprise Mark holder Gateway Family Services CIC is celebrating after winning two prestigious awards this week.

On Tuesday they won a Three Year Health and Wellbeing award from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). This meant they were put forward for the prestigious Health Ministers Award… and yesterday, they won that too!

The RSPH Three Year Health and Wellbeing Award

Jane Piggott Smith (L) and Michelle Smitten (R) receive the RSPH Three Year Health and Wellbeing award from Lord Patel. (Photo: RSPH)

Jane Piggott Smith (L) and Michelle Smitten (R) receive the RSPH Three Year Health and Wellbeing award from Lord Patel. (Photo: RSPH)

The RSPH Health and Wellbeing awards are open to all organisations that promote health and wellbeing as part of their role. The awards “recognise achievement in the development and implementation of health promotion and community wellbeing strategies and initiatives”.

Awards are given for one, two and three years, with the Three Year Award being the highest level. In announcing the Three Year Health and Wellbeing Award, RSPH commended Gateway for:

  • “…how the organisation encourages whole family responses to their messages; this approach has proven to be effective in reaching communities.
  • “…the excellent internal referral pathways allow an effective and efficient nurturing process for service users. People only leave the service when they are ready.”
  • “…the organisation’s capacity to develop services based on the experiences and needs of service users. For instance, the strategy for the compilation of clients’ feedback is accessible and innovative, facilitating the capture of users’ comments and feelings about the service they are receiving.
  • “…the organisation’s employment policies and process for favouring service users whom often are part of the most disadvantaged communities. The opportunities that those individuals receive equips them with transferable training skills which will support them for life.


The Public Health Minister’s Award

Katherine Hewitt (L) and Ann Forletta (R) receive the Health Minister’s Award

Katherine Hewitt (L) and Ann Forletta (R) receive the Health Minister’s Award

All organisations that achieved the highest level of the RSPH Award were considered for the Public Health Minister’s Award, which recognises organisations for “outstanding contributions to the public’s health”.

The Health Minister’s Award was presented yesterday, and Gateway won jointly with The Big Life Group, a group of social businesses and charities based in Manchester. Both organisations won because they demonstrate “exceptional asset-based approaches to engage with communities and deliver real public health gains”.

As part of their application, Gateway was asked to give an example of the way that they engage with communities. They used the example of Making Health Work, a project they ran in partnership with the Foyer Federation to get young people thinking about the ways in which work impacts on health and health impacts on work. Making Health Work used Gateway’s extensive paraprofessional experience and innovative support tools – like their Impact Assessment App – to break down barriers and improve opportunities for the people they worked with.

Jane Ellison MP, Minister for Public Health, said: “I am delighted to be able to award the second Public Health Minister’s Award jointly to The Big Life Group for Be Well Salford and Gateway Family Services for their Making Health Work Project in Birmingham. They are outstanding examples of how organisations, large and small, can improve the life chances of the people in their communities, through developing local skills, knowledge and networks to target interventions to where they are needed the most.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “We are delighted to once again partner with the Department of Health on the Public Health Minister’s Award to celebrate the inspirational work of these two organisations. They are exemplars of innovative, progressive programmes to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. I would like to wish both winners all the best as they continue delivering impressive public health outcomes, and hope they will inspire others to do likewise in future.” 


The below video features Gateway’s EAST Departmental Manager Michelle Smitten talking about what these awards mean to them.

Visit the Gateway Family Services CIC website for more information.

University graduate walks social enterprise tightrope

An Outdoor Adventure Education graduate from Social Enterprise Mark Holder the University of St Mark & St John has taken an exciting adventure into a social enterprise in the slacklining industry.

Ben Hughes, 26, from Colchester in Essex, graduated in Outdoor Adventure Education in 2013, and is now running a successful social enterprise, which was founded in his Third Year. He said: “Without the skills, knowledge and determination I gained though studying at the University of St Mark & St John, I’m not sure I would have had the ability to do it.”

Dr Mark Leather, Programme Area Lead for Outdoor Adventure Education, praised his achievements:  “Ben was an outstanding student for a whole variety of reasons. He made the most of his opportunities here and his intense approach to life and particularly his final year studies saw him gain a well-deserved 1st Class Honours degree.  It has been fantastic to see his business flourish and how Outdoor Adventure Education graduates can achieve great things and really make a difference in the world.”

Ben Hughes University of St Mark  St John 1 (002)Slacklining is a balance sport where users walk across a slack piece of webbing which is secured between two points. It is growing in popularity as an adventure sport.

Ben’s company, ‘Ru-Slack’, is the only slackline based social enterprise in the country, which aims to create social capital by developing and educating people through the medium of slacklining.

As a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and a proud member of The Institute for Outdoor Learning, Ben’s mission is, “to encourage people to go outside into their environment and engage in something real, with real emotion, real consequence, real purpose and potential to reach beyond