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

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 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

Health check event success for Chapter 1

Last week people in Nuneaton were invited to kick start their new year with a mini health check, when #onething – managed by the Nuneaton and Bedworth Healthy Living Campaign- were invited to Social Enterprise Mark holder Chapter 1‘s 2nd Chance Furniture re-use project.

Between 25-30 Chapter 1 volunteers, as well as Nuneaton residents and 2nd Chance clients were engaged to think about just one thing they could change in their life to be a little healthier. Health professionals checked people’s blood pressure and BMI and then people made a small pledge for the #onething campaign.

Volunteer Coordinator, Michelle Black said “Your #onething could be to eat a bit more fruit and veg, to quit smoking, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink or to cut out chocolate. The #onething campaign is a great way to get people thinking about how they can lead a healthier lifestyle in 2017. It’s is great that we could work with 2nd Chance Furniture to use their venue as a place to hold the checks and to meet their volunteers and customers who use their re-use superstore.”

Nat Kidd, Service Manager said “It was so encouraging to be able to work with the Nuneaton and Bedworth Healthy Living Campaign. The public response was so overwhelmingly positive. Most people only think that we sell low cost 2nd hand furniture, but this is another example of our work with local organisations and the community. We are about helping those in need however we can, whether that be through volunteering, training or indeed health checks.”

Overseen by Public Health Warwickshire, the #onething campaign has a website where people’s pledges will be up loaded.  You can add one yourself at home by going to  and you can also follow the campaign on twitter @onethingpledge.

2nd Chance has been operating for 10 years in and around Nuneaton and Bedworth and North Warwickshire. They are an FRN Approved Re-use Centre (ARC) and were the winners of the 2016 Let’s Recycle Community Recycling Initiative of the Year.

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.

(l-r), Tim West, Founder and Principal of award organisers Matter & Co, Verity Timmins, FRC's Business Development Manager, Shaun Doran, CEO of FRC Group, and Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow

FRC Group wins Hall of Fame Award in 2016 NatWest SE100 Awards

A Hall of Fame for social enterprises has been created with Social Enterprise Mark holder FRC Group as its first member.

FRC logoFRC Group, a social enterprise based in Liverpool, campaigns and runs businesses to help End Furniture Poverty and it has a great track record of success at the NatWest SE100 Awards. The awards celebrate the best achievements of social enterprises across the country and this year FRC Group was inducted into Hall of Fame, a new award created to recognise social enterprises that have consistently performed at the highest level.

Tim West, founder and principal of Matter & Co who created the awards with NatWest, presented FRC Group with its Hall of Fame award. He told the audience that FRC Group has led from the front on all aspects of measuring and demonstrating its impact, and using social impact measurement to become a better organisation.

Tim explained: “There was no shortlist for this award. I can tell you that the winner has been a finalist in the Impact Champion category of the NatWest SE100 Awards ever since the awards began. It was the winner in the first year of the awards and also won the Resilience Award last year.”

“Every year this organisation’s performance has been so impressive that it has been a challenge for the judges not to award it a winner’s trophy each time. So this year we are very pleased to induct this organisation as our first member of the NatWest SE100 Hall of Fame.”

FRC Group runs businesses that create profit and opportunities to change the lives of people living in poverty and unemployment. These include Bulky Bob’s, collecting bulky household waste for local authorities including Liverpool City Council, reusing and recycling 70% of everything collected. They also sell new furniture to social landlords across the country through Furniture Resource Centre and Buckingham Interiors. FRC Group aims to reduce and eradicate furniture poverty through its campaign and also creates sustainable employment and better futures for people.

Shaun Doran, FRC Group’s CEO and Social Enterprise Mark Ambassador, said: “We were surprised and delighted to win this award and become the inaugural members of the SE100 Hall of Fame and we are really honoured by this award which is recognition for the whole team at FRC Group and is a great boost to our campaign to End Furniture Poverty.”

SE100 Awards

The NatWest SE100 Awards recognises social enterprises who have demonstrated some of the best business practice within the sector and celebrates the growth, impact, ambition and resilience of social enterprises in the UK. They were chosen from almost 1,500 social ventures on the NatWest SE100 Index – which tracks the progress and impact of social enterprises across the UK.

Rob Wilson, MP and Minister for Civil Society, supporting the awards commented: “Social Enterprises across the country are making a positive impact on our society, and it’s great that these awards have recognised the leaders in this sector across the UK. Congratulations to everyone involved. I hope their achievements will inspire others to help our communities and improve lives.”

The awards were hosted at the NatWest/RBS conference centre in London by Simon Jacobs, Chief Administrative Officer Commercial & Private Banking at RBS, and Chair of NatWest Social & Community Capital. Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest RBS, praised the winners for their “determination not just to make money but to make a difference.”

She told them: “We value what you do, both for the economy and for our communities. We want you to shout loud about your achievements because we want to demonstrate that social businesses are also good businesses. That’s the whole philosophy behind the NatWest SE100.”

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 You can also download the brochure.

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

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.

London Social Housing Furniture Revolution!

FRC-logoThe supply of furniture to London social housing tenants is undergoing a massive transformation as Social Enterprise Mark holder Furniture Resource Centre wins two major furniture contracts in the capital.

Furniture Resource Centre is now the main furniture supplier to Notting Hill Housing Group and supplying furniture to The Hyde Group. The Framework contract with Hyde can be used by other Social Housing providers – making compliant buying easy.

The Hyde Group is part of g15, representing London’s 15 largest housing associations who between them house one in 10 Londoners. All g15 members can order through the contract and buy from Furniture Resource Centre, as well as all the members of g320, representing all the smaller housing associations in London.

Furniture Resource Centre, part of FRC Group, is now opening a new London base, a stone’s throw from Wembley Stadium, and creating local jobs.

Shaun Doran, FRC Group’s CEO, said: “We are really excited about this significant expansion into London and opening our new warehouse and offices in Wembley.

“We are very proud of the quality of our products and the standard of our delivery and installation service so we are looking forward to bringing this to homes and shared housing accommodation across London.”

FRC Group is a collection of social businesses created nearly 30 years ago in Liverpool. They supply contract furniture to furnished tenancies and shared living accommodation, and also have a senior living brand, Buckingham Interiors, providing an interior design service and high quality furniture to sheltered and care accommodation.

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.”

Making a Mark – Chapter 1 Charity

Chapter 1Chapter 1 Charity has once again been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark – proof that it is “Trading for People and the Planet”.

The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement for all applicants and renewing mark holders to provide ‘social impact statements’, which illustrate how they are striving to meet their social and environmental objectives. Below are examples of how Chapter 1 is making a mark, striving to make a difference to people and the planet.

2nd Chance Furniture Reuse Project has been operating for 10 years in and around Nuneaton and Bedworth and North Warwickshire. They are an FRN Approved Re-use Centre (ARC) and were the winners of the 2016 Let’s Recycle Community Recycling Initiative of the Year.

In 2014, they opened up a re-use shop, in partnership with FCC Environment and Warwickshire County Council at the Judkins Household Waste Recycling Centre, which has now become one of the most successful in the country. This year Chapter 1 opened its first high street retail outlet in the Abbeygate Shopping Centre.

At any one time they have around 60 volunteers over the 3 sites, working around 35,000 hrs per year. They have placements that are targeted (though not exclusively) at the unemployed and those with mental health issues or learning difficulties. The income generated from this activity goes primarily towards supporting Chapter 1 services in the local community. Clients include homeless men and women, including those suffering from mental health and addictions, single parents and their children, young people who are homeless or in local authority care and asylum seekers.

Its furniture services re-use 300 tonnes of donated goods per annum, with 90% going to those on low incomes. During 2015-16:

  • 58 instances of off the job training were delivered, including Motivation and Confidence, Emergency First Aid at Work and E-learning courses
  • 37 individuals reported an increase in self-confidence or social skills
  • 36 volunteers reported an increase in their attitude towards contributing to the community
  • 100% of job seeking individuals recorded an increase in their assessment of work preparedness

Nat Kidd, Service Manager responded by saying “This is a great way to finish the year off. We would like to thank all our clients for their kind donations, but a special mention should go to our staff and volunteers that always work so hard. It is great that their fantastic achievements are once again recognised.”

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 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, 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.

Awards for Excellence in Recycling & Waste Management 2016

Chapter 1 award

The award for the Best Community Recycling Initiative was presented by Dan Cooke of Viridor (second from right) with Charlotte Hawkins, to Nat Kidd and Anne Rathbone of Chapter 1, with Steve Eminton of Let’s Recycle

On Thursday 19th May 2016, Social Enterprise Mark holder Chapter 1‘s 2nd Chance Furniture Re-Use team were declared the winners of the Best Community Recycling Initiative at the Awards for for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management 2016.

2nd Chance Furniture Re-Use was up against leaders in the waste reduction field from all over the UK. The award, sponsored by Viridor was presented by the host, ITV presenter Charlotte Hawkins with Lord Deben giving the keynote address. The expert judging panel included:

  • Sally Talbot, Vice Chair, LARAC;
  • Linda Crichton, WRAP;
  • Simon Ellin, Chief Executive, Recycling Association;
  • Steve Eminton, editor of;
  • Samantha Sen, British Council of Shopping Centres;
  • Toni Waters, Environmental Services Association;
  • Nigel Harvey, Chief Executive, Recolight;
  • Helen Middleton, Furniture Reuse Network

2nd Chance Furniture Re-use2nd Chance Furniture is well known locally for selling a wide range of good quality second-hand furniture and other household items, primarily to those on low income whilst offering discounts to those on means tested benefits. The award was given in recognition of its work across three sites:

  • The Nuneaton superstore is in its 10th year of trading
  • 2nd Chance in Atherstone runs the largest foodbank in Warwickshire in partnership with North Warwickshire Borough Council
  • In partnership with Warwickshire County Council and FCC environment the re-use shop at the Judkins has diverted a huge range of items from landfill

Service Manager Nat Kidd said, “For us to not only make it to the finals, but actually win such a prestigious award is a testament to the hard work of all the staff and volunteers at our services. Whether it is organising composting workshops at our Nuneaton superstore, feeding those in need in Atherstone or diverting goods from landfill at Judkins, the efforts of the staff and volunteers have been recognised. We are all so proud and it really spurs us on to keep breaking new ground in an effort to improve our local community.”

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

Breathe Therapies Wellbeing Programmes

Breathe wellbeing programmesSocial Enterprise Mark holder Breathe Therapies is offering a number of 6-week wellbeing programmes, including:

  • Breaking the diet/binge cycle
  • Supportive cookery
  • Food and feelings relationship
  • Mindfulness
  • Art Therapy

Breathe Wellbeing Team are a lively, friendly, knowledgable and expert team, consisting of mental health nurses, dietician, nutritionist, NLP practitioner, Hypnotherapist and CBT therapist.

Choose the programme most suited to your interest of need right now. Earlybird rates are available for all programmes at £169, for 6 sessions over 6 weeks.

For full information, and to book your place, please visit the Breathe Therapies website.

Connection Crew celebrates 10 years of social impact

A new report published today reveals how a crewing company created jobs for 144 people who’ve been homeless.

Social Enterprise Mark holder Connection Crew, a London-based crewing company, has published a report to reveal how it has created jobs for 144 people with a history of homelessness.

‘10 years of social impact’Connection Crew 10 years is not a revelation of ground-breaking new findings but rather a brutally honest, anecdotal account of mistakes and lessons learned. It lands in the year that rough-sleeping has increased by an alarming 30% throughout the UK.

The aim of the report is to encourage and inspire others facing similar challenges around supporting people into work and out of homelessness.

Charlie Dorman, Director of Connection Crew comments “Most companies seek to protect valuable commercial relationships from mishaps and failures within their business in the interest of maintaining a profile of excellence in their work.

But as a social enterprise and the only one in the crewing industry, transparency is important to us. Owning our mistakes helps us grow as much as owning our successes. There are thousands of people in the UK with nowhere to live and very few options to turn their lives around. Our mission to find and support these people is stronger than ever. We hope that our exposé will motivate others to do the same.”

The report, which marks the award winning crewing company’s 10th birthday has informed much of its social impact strategy for 2016-2017 as well as its broader goals for the future. For example, over the next three years it aims to increase the number of women in the crew. Not only to build equality into its male dominated workforce, but in recognition that it needs to create a working environment that is more suitable for female ex-homeless people to thrive in. Going forward, Connection Crew is also seeking more opportunities for preventative interactions with those most at risk of becoming homeless.

The report is comprised of a series of interviews with 16 key players in the company’s history. Interviewees include Colin Glover, Chief Executive of Connection at St Martins, the company’s founding charity; Hugh Chamberlain, Procurement Manager at Johnson & Johnson, a recent client; event industry major players and members of its crew with a background of homelessness.

Please click here to download the full report.

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.

Connection Crew named Best Crewing Company at Event Production Awards

Event Production AwardsSocial Enterprise Mark holder Connection Crew was named Best Crewing Company at the recent Event Production Awards 2016. These annual awards showcase, highlight and reward success and excellence within the events industry.

Comments from the judges reflected how impressed they were with the fantastic work that Connection Crew do in creating employment opportunities for ex-homeless people:

“Connection Crew CIC – Impressive scale and a genuinely inspiring social scheme – case studies show a good understanding of how their story impacts their own clients’ businesses.”

“I have to say that I was really taken with Connection … they have noted a commercial growth and show two case studies with strong testimonials, and they make a great case for agencies selling their agenda as part of their own credentials, to potential clients.”

For more information on the awards, please visit the Event Productions Awards 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.”

Vote for Embracing Nature project in The People’s Projects

Children and young people with disabilities in Cornwall are getting set for an adventure packed 2016 if you vote for them in the ITV and National Lottery The People’s Projects.

Nature Workshops are certfied with the Social Enterprise MarkBuilding on successful collaboration between Social Enterprise Mark holder Nature Workshops and charity Parent Carer Council Cornwall, and up against competition from much bigger charities, the ‘Embracing Nature’ project has been chosen to go forward to the final vote. With your vote many more children and young people with disabilities and their parents could be learning and having fun in our best woods across Cornwall.

The project will fund parents to learn Forest School with Nature Workshops, thus allowing many more families in the future to spend time making dens, learning woodland crafts, cooking healthy meals and understanding, learning how ecology works and why it is important.

Find out more about the Embracing Nature project in the below video:

Kay Henry from Parent Carer Council Cornwall says “Nature Workshops have provided our families with memory making days in 2015 with some children having the best time they have ever had in natural spaces. As parents we have learnt it can be easy and fun to bring our children into woods instead of sitting in front of computers. One of our mums is doing the Nature Workshops training so we can carry on running these events for families for years to come.”

With a track record of published research about their work with vulnerable people in Cornwall and an established training agency, Nature Workshops are ideally placed to deliver this project. Manager Alex Skinner says “Everyone know someone with a disability of some kind and getting out into nature can be a challenge if you are not used to it. If people vote for us we have the chance to really make a difference to the lives of young people with disabilities and their families, but we can’t do it without massive public support.”

To vote please visit the People’s Projects website and select the Embracing Nature project. Voting closes at midday on 13th March.

Unlimited Potential awarded the Fair Tax Mark

Social Enterprise Mark Unlimited Potential has become the first Salford-based business to gain the Fair Tax Mark, demonstrating that it is proud to pay its fair share of tax and achieve the highest standards of transparency.

Fair Tax Mark

In order to achieve the Mark, Unlimited Potential, which specialises in social innovation for happiness and works to help people lead healthier, more fulfilled lives, opened up its accounts to external scrutiny, improved its tax reporting and published a full tax policy, which includes a commitment to paying the right amount of tax at the right time, in the right place.

As an organisation that works to improve lives in communities, and that partners with local government and health organisations, supporting the growing number of businesses standing up for Fair Tax seemed like a natural decision to take.

David Cummins, Chair of Unlimited Potential, said “We want local people and our customers to know that we take an open and responsible approach to tax. We are proud of having the Fair Tax Mark, as it shows that Unlimited Potential pays our fair share at the right time and in the right place. We hope that it will help us stand out, but also want to encourage others to join us.”

Richard Livings of the Fair Tax Mark said “We are absolutely delighted to have worked with Unlimited Potential and congratulate them on taking a stand in favour of Fair Tax and greater transparency for business. They join a growing number of businesses angry at the unfairness of tax avoidance, and proud to be doing what is right. An enterprise that works to solve social problems, Unlimited Potential is well placed to understand the vital role that tax plays. We hope many others will follow their lead.”

The Fair Tax Mark is the label for good taxpayers. It is for companies and organisations that are proud to pay their fair share of tax. To find out more, please visit the Fair Tax Mark website.


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 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

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.

FRC Group announced as SE100 Impact Champions

SE100 award FRC GroupSocial Enterprise Mark holder FRC Group was announced as joint winner of the NatWest SE100 Impact Champion Award at a ceremony at the Critical Mass conference on Monday 19th October 2015.


FRCFRC Group, which runs three social businesses including furniture recycling and waste management projects, shares a £10k prize fund with joint winner Kelvin Valley Honey. FRC Group reinvest profits into creating social impact by giving people in poverty and unemployment the opportunity to change their lives.

The NatWest SE100 Awards showcase the the best of the UK’s social enterprise sector. Five winners were chosen from over 1,000 social ventures listed on the NatWest SE100 Index. The winners demonstrate best business practice within the social sector, working to address some of the UK’s most acute social issues.

JTHBITASocial Enterprise Mark holder BITA Pathways and Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice were shortlisted for the Resilience Award and Storyteller Award respectively.


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 themselves, leading to positive affirmation and personal development.”

The organisation has gone from strength to strength and has taken slacklining to over 10 different countries in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Their work has impacted on crime prevention programmes for Plymouth City Council and Devon & Cornwall constabulary and they have worked in schools and universities and carried out numerous performances.

For more information about Ru-Slack, visit

The University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth is one of only four universities to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark, indicating that it is a social enterprise supporting the community, the environment and with good social purpose.

For more information about the University of St Mark & St John, visit

£1Million unlocked for good causes by TheGivingMachine

Social Enterprise Mark holder TheGivingMachine was once just an idea between 4 friends; it started as a social enterprise and then became a registered charity last year. Now it has reached a momentous milestone – £1,000,000 has been unlocked for good causes by people shopping on-line via TheGivingMachine, without it costing them a single penny more.

Richard Morris, CEO and Founder of TheGivingMachine said “Every donation counts, no matter how big or small, and we just wanted to say a great, big thank you to everyone that has helped reach this impressive total”.

Since its launch, 86,000 registered Givers have raised a total £1,000,000 for over 8,200 causes, and the figure won’t stop here. Shopping via TheGivingMachine creates an ongoing income stream for charities, with internet shopping forever on the increase, so is the amount of funds available.

This month TheGivingMachine has also introduced the ability for customers to apply GiftAid to the donations they generate via TheGivingMachine, meaning their registered Givers can enjoy giving even more to the causes they love at no extra cost.

For more information, please visit TheGivingMachine website.

Social Enterprise Mark Holders shortlisted for SE100 Awards

Social Enterprise Mark holders BITA Pathways and FRC Group, and Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice have been shortlisted for the NatWest SE100 Awards 2015.

The winners will win a share of over £32, 000 in prize money that will be awarded at the NatWest SE100 Annual Awards on 19th October 2015, at the Good Deals social investment conference in London.

BITAShortlisted for the Resilience award, BITA Pathways provides a range of education, volunteering and employment services for adults with mental health problems.


FRCShortlisted for the Impact Champion award, FRC Group aims to reduce and ultimately eradicate furniture poverty, by campaigning to raise awareness and create practical solutions to get furniture to people who need it, as well as creating sustainable employment.


JTHShortlisted for the Storyteller award, John Taylor Hospice is a Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder, providing expert end of life care to families in Birmingham.


Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest, said: “Social Enterprises make a massive difference to local economies and communities across the UK and beyond. They are run by inspirational people who want to make a difference. That is why at NatWest we want to support them to get access to the finance, support and networks they need to flourish. That way not only do they benefit, but the economy benefits and our society benefits.  We congratulate all shortlisted enterprises and look forward to celebrating their success at the awards ceremony on 19th October.”

TheGivingMachine Named ‘Most Trusted Social Enterprise’

Social Enterprise Mark holder TheGivingMachine received the award for Most Trusted Social Enterprise at the very first UK Trust Awards.

The Giving Machine Trust AwardThe award was presented to Richard Morris, CEO and Founder of TheGivingMachine, by Roger James Hamilton and Michelle Clarke, Global Partnership Manager at The Entrepreneurs Institute.

Expressing his gratitude to those who voted, Richard said:

“I’m delighted to say that, thanks to people like you, TheGivingMachine won the 2015 Most Trusted Social Enterprise Award from the Entrepreneurs Institute.Our team is so grateful to serve the wonderful people and causes that are part of our growing community.

Thank you so much for voting for us – together we can unlock many more £millions to achieve even more for the causes that matter to you.”

TheGivingMachine is a unique social enterprise whose sole purpose is to generate free cash donations for UK registered schools, charities, CASC’s and CIC’s via a shopping portal. There are over 1,500 top online shops participating and each gives a percentage of every purchase as a donation to the shoppers chosen schools and charities.

There were 439 entries across the 13 categories of the Trust Awards and thousands of people cast their vote, with the Entrepreneurs Institute donating life saving water for every vote received. Full details can be found on the Trust Awards website.

John Taylor Hospice recognised for compassionate care

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice has been shortlisted for a Health Service Journal (HSJ) Award in the Compassionate Patient Care category.

The HSJ Awards, which have been highlighting successful initiatives in UK healthcare since 1981, shine a spotlight on the most innovative projects in the sector. More than 600 organisations submitted entries for 2015 with individual nominations across all categories exceeding 1,600.

Marie Bradley, Director of Clinical Operations at John Taylor Hospice said: “We’re extremely proud to be a finalist in these prestigious healthcare awards. We’re committed to delivering compassionate care to each and every person who comes to us for help and that means constantly asking ourselves how we could do more.

“Our strapline, every moment matters, really means something to all of our staff. We’re here for our patients and their families wherever they need us, for as long as they need us. To be recognised as one of the UK’s leaders in this category is fantastic for the hospice and for Birmingham.”

John Taylor Hospice will go on to deliver a presentation in front of HSJ’s judging panel in October, showcasing excellence in patient-centred care at the hospice and in the community.

For more information about John Taylor Hospice visit and for details on the HSJ Awards please visit

Social enterprise soap brand offers bathroom luxury with a conscience

The Soap Co. – a new luxury soap brand, directly creating employment for blind or otherwise disabled or disadvantaged people, has been launched today by Social Enterprise Mark Holder Clarity EFBP.

Promising to be good and do good, with a strong focus on design and ethics, the new brand will also be available directly to consumers online. It aims to reach out to socially-minded consumers and companies, matching straight-forward social messages with quality products.

clarity-logo-scIt represents a bold move into a new market segment for charity and parent company Clarity EFBP, founded in 1854 to provide employment opportunities for blind and disabled people, with more than 70 years’ experience making soap products.

Jeremy Robinson, CEO, said: “For us this is an opportunity to prove that there does not have to be a trade off between quality and social benefit. We’re helping to expand the socially conscious buying market and, ultimately, to create more employment for blind or otherwise disabled or disadvantaged people who want to work, but are often not given the chance”.

Sophie Butland of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC said “As the only independent certification authority for social enterprises, we are excited about the launch of The Soap Co., which promises to ‘do good and be good’ by directly creating employment for blind and disabled people.

The Social Enterprise Mark CIC has assessed and certified parent company Clarity EFBP against its robust criteria for several years, and welcomes this new avenue for creating even greater social benefit.”

To find out more, please visit The Soap Co. website.

Pick and Pack - Allan Brooks Low Res (00000002)Soap Co

2nd Chance Furniture Re-use (Atherstone) Celebrates 2nd Birthday

2nd Chance Furniture Re-use is celebrating the second year anniversary of its North Warwickshire branch and the Atherstone Foodbank. The service is operated by Social Enterprise Mark Holder Chapter 1 in partnership with North Warwickshire Borough Council (NWBC).

To celebrate, there will be a reception on 7th September 2015 at 2nd Chance Furniture Re-Use, with Chapter 1 staff, clients and volunteers. Guests will include the North Warwickshire Mayor, Councillor Martin Davis and the Mayoress, Mrs Gill Davis, as well as representatives from Ocado, and Chapter 1 Chief Executive Joseph R Main. A buffet and light refreshments will be served and speeches and a presentation will be made.

For the past two years 2nd Chance has been serving the community by providing low cost furniture, support and emergency food parcels to some of the most vulnerable members of the community. The food bank is operated in partnership with North Warwickshire Borough Council, but is only made possible by the generous, ongoing support from local supermarkets and from the public.

Natalie Kidd, Service Manager of 2nd Chance Furniture Re-use said “We are thrilled to be able to celebrate another landmark year for 2nd Chance North Warwickshire. Its work in and around Atherstone has made a real difference by diverting furniture from landfill to those in need. The foodbank has grown massively and is now supporting over 50 charities and community organisations. This could not be achieved without the amazing support of the people of Atherstone, local food retailers, as well as the hard work of our great team of volunteers. This year alone we have been able to feed over 1,500 individuals, 600 of whom are children. This is a great example of how local councils and charities can work together to make a positive impact in the community.”

Chapter 1 has several other services in Warwickshire, including 2nd Chance Furniture Re-Use Nuneaton, the Judkins Re-use shop, Warwickshire Private Sector Leasing (PSL) and four supported accommodation units for persons between 16 and 60, including one for young expectant mothers and those with babies.


Unlimited Potential Recruiting Non-Executive Directors

Social Enterprise Mark Holder Unlimited Potential is recruiting for Non-Executive Directors to join its Board.

Unlimited Potential is a social enterprise that exists to make the world a happier and healthier place through social innovation. It was the first organisation in northern England to gain the Social Enterprise Mark, and also holds the Investors in People Standard, and is an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Unlimited Potential is seeking applications for Non-Executive Directors to join its Board. The Board meets monthly and there are some supporting activities beyond. Non-Executive Director positions are not remunerated, but all expenses incurred are reimbursed.

They are particularly seeking people with skills, knowledge and experience in any of the following fields

  • business planning;
  • community;
  • finance;
  • governance;
  • creativity and innovation;
  • law;
  • marketing;
  • organisational development;
  • people and workforce;
  • regeneration;
  • service quality and delivery

Full information can be found in the job description and person specification. To apply, please complete the application form and return to the Secretary at Unlimited Potential, Innovation Forum, 51 Frederick Road, Salford M6 6FP by 5:00pm on Wednesday 16th September 2015.

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with Marcia Powell in the first instance – 0161 743 0088 or

Charity Bank Offers Exclusive Discount for Mark Holders

Charity Bank has become the only UK bank to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark

To celebrate this achievement, Charity Bank has announced a 25% discount on loans to Social Enterprise Mark holders

Charity Bank, an ethical bank that uses savings to make loans to charities and social enterprises, recently became the only UK bank to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark (SEM), which demonstrates it puts people and the planet before shareholder profit.

To mark the new accreditation, Charity Bank announced a partnership with Social Enterprise Mark CIC to offer Mark Holders a 25% reduction on their standard loan arrangement fee. Please click here for full information and t&c.

Subjected to an assessment process, which is overseen by an independent Certification Panel, Charity Bank’s company documents and accounts were scrutinised.  As a result, Charity Bank has earned the Social Enterprise Mark, which checks whether profits are re-invested into activities that benefit society.

Patrick Crawford, chief executive of Charity Bank, said: “Being the only UK bank to receive the Social Enterprise Mark is a great honour for Charity Bank.

“Charity Bank was always going to be different. We’re not driven by trying to maximise our profits – rather we seek to find ways of saying ‘yes’ to those making a positive impact on society when others say ‘no’.

“To date, we have approved £200 million-worth of loans to more than 1,000 charities and social enterprises that are improving lives and communities across the UK.

“The Social Enterprise Mark is an independent certificate of why we’re in business and how we use our profits, and a testament to our future direction.”

In 2014, Charity Bank generated 155 loan applications worth £70 million, more than double the value of applications in 2013 (£32 million) and made commitments to lend £33 million, almost three times the value of commitments made the previous year (£12 million).

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC, said: “To achieve status as the only UK bank to be awarded The Social Enterprise Mark is a major feat.  The Mark is the guardian of genuine social enterprise principles and is a guarantee for businesses which use their profits for purpose, not for shareholders’ pockets, as Charity Bank has clearly demonstrated. We have no doubt it will inspire others to follow this great example of social enterprise.”

University Commended by Council for Commitment to Social Enterprise

The Plymouth-based University of St Mark & St John has been commended by Plymouth City Council Leader Tudor Evans, in recognition of its commitment to social enterprise.

It has become one of only four universities in the UK to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark. This makes Plymouth, which was the UK’s first social enterprise city, the only city in the UK with two Universities accredited for social enterprise work.

The Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the UK and international certification authority that safeguards social enterprise credentials. Only organisations that can prove they put people and planet before shareholder profit are awarded a license to display the Social Enterprise Mark.

The University of St Mark & St John is on a new trajectory having secured HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) funding of nearly £3million to enable the development of new courses, infrastructure, and the estate. It ranks as first in the UK for social mobility and has the highest-ranking graduate employment of the four Universities in Devon and Cornwall, with 95% of graduates achieving employment within six months.

Plymouth City Council Leader Tudor Evans said: “Higher education is at the heart of social enterprise and it’s fantastic to see the University recognised for the public benefit it continues to bring to our communities; through several projects including the increasing work with NHS rehabilitation programmes, the innovative work with Macmillan Cancer Support, and the University’s values which provide a set of guiding principles to enable students of today to become leaders of tomorrow who will address the global challenges of the 21st Century.”

Social Enterprise

Keelmen’s Hospital partnership receives lifeline

A partnership aiming to give the historic landmark, Keelmen’s Hospital, a new lease of life has just been awarded a grant of £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The founders of Methodism are the inspiration for the partners and the project: John Wesley preached to the Keelmen, and Charles Wesley was their chaplain. One of the partners, the Wesley Orphan House Trustees, has its origins in an orphanage on Northumberland Street set up by John Wesley, which continues through the Brunswick Methodist Church. The second partner is the Wesley Hotel. It also has its origins in the Methodist Church as the first social enterprise hotel in the UK. The third partner is the North of England Civic Trust, a charity celebrating its 50th anniversary in bringing historic buildings with stories to tell back to life.

There can be few buildings in Newcastle that symbolise its historical maritime heritage so much as the Keelmen’s Hospital. Overlooking the river where its infirm beneficiaries, their widows and orphaned children could seek respite, it stands as a reminder of their livelihood in good times (contributing ‘a penny a tide’) and welfare in bad (almshouse accommodation). Built in 1701 when there were 1,600 Keelmen in Newcastle, it has survived the decline of their fortunes and is listed grade II* and is on the English Heritage ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.

The hospital was built for hospitality in the traditional sense of ethical care. Its configuration of narrow ranges around a courtyard make it appear bigger than it is, and more difficult to adapt. It is THE link to Newcastle’s Keelmen, but it also has a lesser known historical claim to fame in its early relationship to Methodism through John and Charles Wesley: Newcastle is the third corner of the ‘Methodist Triangle’, with Bristol and London, but this significance is largely unknown.

This project is a story of revival. It aims to revive the fortunes of a building that is hugely symbolic but vulnerable, raise the historical profile of the Keelmen as a mainstay of the economy, society and culture of Newcastle and revive the significance of the Wesleys to the Keelmen, Newcastle and Britain, reminding people of its important story of the ethical principles and relationships in society, from almshouses to the Wesleys to a modern-day approach to hospitality.

The £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a ‘Start Up Grant’, the purpose of which is to establish and test how the vision could be made to work. The partners will work with the owner, the City Council, to explore how the building could host the proposed use as an ethical hotel that celebrates the connections with the Wesleys and the Keelmen, and become an active part of the ‘Methodist Triangle’.

Eden Fletcher, Minister at Brunswick Methodist Church, was first to see how the connections could make something special for Newcastle: “The Wesleys had a huge and lasting impact on this city that still has a legacy, even if we’re not so aware of it now. To revive those stories and the values they represent is as relevant as ever: both John and Charles were regularly to be found on the streets of Newcastle and in the thick of society where need was most acute.”

John Nyota, Chief Executive of the Wesley Hotel, puts this into the national context: “For me, the Keelmen’s Hospital epitomises everything John Wesley stood for, and still stands for – that the values of society and how to provide hospitality are not mutually exclusive with enterprise. His philosophy was to earn as much as possible in order to give it all back for the social good. To achieve this on a site with a direct connection to his legacy is a remarkable opportunity for Newcastle and the UK.”

The introduction of Start Up Grants by the Heritage Lottery Fund recognises how even the most worthwhile projects can seem daunting and unclear at the outset. Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF in the North East, explains: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is keen to encourage projects like the Keelmen’s Hospital as it brings together people with complementary skills into partnerships that benefit our local and national heritage. Taking the first step on an ambitious project is a real challenge, but our Start Up Grants enable people with good project ideas to have confidence to explore and develop them.”

The grant has been awarded to North of England Civic Trust on behalf of the three partners. It will be used to assess the condition of the building, how it can be re-used and what it would cost, to test the market and viability for proposals, to work with the owner Newcastle City Council, and plan next steps.

You can find out more about Keelmens Hospital here.  Find out more about Social Enterprise Mark here.

Social Enterprise

Award Winning Social Enterprise Announces New CEO

Social Enterprise Pluss’ Chairman Chris Harvey has announced the appointment of Steve Hawkins, previously Director of Business Development, as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Mr Harvey said “I am very pleased to announce that, following a recruitment process Steve Hawkins is appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Company. The Board joins me in congratulating Steve in his new role.”
Steve Hawkins added “I am delighted to have been appointed as Pluss’ CEO. I am extremely proud to work for the organisation, and look forward to working with our staff to take the Company forward. We are facing exciting times, and we are in an excellent position to look to the future of Welfare to Work services for disadvantaged people.

“I will be taking time to personally visit staff and other stakeholders across the company over the coming weeks”.

Pluss is a Social Enterprise that supports disadvantaged people into work. They work with thousands of employers across the South West, West of England, and West Yorkshire, helping them to recruit and retain staff with disabilities and other disadvantages.
Businesses looking for free disability recruitment support can find out more at, or on twitter @PlussInspires.

Social Enterprise

Social Enterpr-eyes? Beacon Centre for the Blind achieves ‘ethical’ business award

Beacon Centre for the Blind based in Sedgley in the Black Country has recently achieved endorsement for its work in improving society and protecting the environment. Beacon Chief Executive, Arwyn Jones and Chair of Trustees, Pauline Heffernan were presented with the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark by Melanie Mills, Big Society Capital Social Sector Engagement Director.

Beacon Chair, Pauline Heffernan commented: “Our passion at Beacon is being in business to use profits to fulfil our charitable aim of making a visible difference for people with visual impairment and sight loss. That’s why receiving the Social Enterprise Mark is a great honour for Beacon. It is an independent guarantee of why we’re in business, how we use our profits and a testament for our future direction for developing sustainable social enterprises”.

Beacon Centre is a social enterprise providing quality accommodation, health and social care services, advice, information and advocacy services for people with visual impairment and sight loss across the Black Country in the West Midlands. In Autumn 2015 Beacon will launch Beacon Opticians Plus, the UK’s first social enterprise ophthalmic optician service with the benefit of onsite low vision advice and support services. Beacon also operates retail charity and coffee shops across the Black Country and employment support and prevention services across the Black Country.

The Government defines social enterprises as “businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”

Melanie Mills, Social Sector Director of Big Society Capital presented the Beacon team with the Mark at Beacon Centre, Sedgley on Tuesday 7th July 2015.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “As the only certification for genuine social enterprises, the Mark guarantees businesses which use their profits for purpose not for shareholders’ pockets. The Mark helps those businesses show their business ethics and values. We are delighted to award the Social Enterprise Mark to Beacon Centre for the Blind and have no doubt they will inspire others to follow this great example of social enterprise.”

To find out more about Beacon Vision please click here, Beacon Vision are also a registered Social Enterprise.

Millfields Trust invests over £1million in Stonehouse

The Millfields Trust has donated £1000 to a local primary school, taking it well beyond the £1 million milestone mark it has ploughed into and invested
in the local community of Stonehouse. This is a remarkable achievement which is being celebrated by a Trust with volunteer Directors and a small staff team.

Jan Digweed, Head Teacher of St Peter’s Church of England Primary School says: “With the help of The Millfields Trust, more children will be able to benefit from the cultural learning experience in Spain.   We have built a great working relationship with The Millfields Trust. They’re continually helping us to raise aspirations and install a sense of pride and adventure in our youth. Through the Widening Horizons project they’ve already given our pupils a unique insight into the world of construction, medicine, dentistry and aviation. The children have enjoyed every single minute and we thank them for this latest boost!”

Many people will be familiar with the work of the Millfields Trust. For the past 15 years the Trust has been a provider a high quality business accommodation from its base in Stonehouse. Many successful Plymouth businesses have begun life in HQ or on the Millfields site. What people may not realise is that income from trading is not only sustaining the Trust to continue in business, but that its surplus is used to support the community of Stonehouse.

One of the main beneficiaries is the young people of the neighbourhood.
Seven years ago the Trust established the Widening Horizons project. This ground-breaking project is funded by the Trust and works with year 5 children in 6 local primary schools, giving them the opportunity to visit inspirational workplaces that have the ‘wow’ factor and provide a different insight into the world of work. Since it was established over 700 young people have been through the programme.

In addition the Trust has invested in buildings now owned by the community, contributed to an endowment fund for the Drake Foundation, and given grants and donations to a number of community groups and organisations in Stonehouse.

Chair of the Trust Father Sam Philpott says: “This is a magnificent achievement for a small community focused organisation. We have come a long way in the last 15 years and touched the lives of many people.  The money we have spent has been invested, in our buildings, in our community and in our future.  There is much to be done and our Genesis building is demonstrating our determination to continue to change the built environment of Stonehouse, raising the aspirations and self-esteem of our community”

To find out more about Millfields Trust click here. Millfields Trust  is also a registered Social Enterprise Mark Holder.

Social Enterprise

Spotlight on Birmingham’s social enterprises

Around 60 people from a host of different social enterprises spent an afternoon learning how to raise their profile in the local media at an event organised by John Taylor Hospice and Social Enterprise West Midlands.

Social Enterprise – Be the News included a host of speakers sharing their expertise in newspapers and press releases, film, social media and PR.

Key speaker Alun Thorne, PR director with Hockley-based Barques and former editor of the Birmingham Post and Coventry Telegraph, shared some tips on contacting journalists and ensuring stories are news-worthy.

A panel discussion featuring Big Cat managing director Anthony Tattum, Be Inspired Films founder Ravinol Chambers and founder of Spot On Marketing and Communications Sally Edwards discussed the benefits and risks of social media, the importance of an online presence and the advantage of using film to tell a story.

John Taylor Hospice head of brand and media Diane Parkes said: “At John Taylor Hospice we love to share stories about how we make every moment matter for everyone we care for. We understand the value of media in helping us share those stories across Birmingham and beyond.

“We are a not for profit social enterprise and we know that so many other social enterprises also have great stories but struggle with the best way to tell them. Our aim with the event was to give them a few pointers with the help of a panel of experts.

“All of the speakers gave us plenty to think about and lots of ideas to take away and make our own. It was a really enjoyable and insightful afternoon which has brought real value to social enterprises in and around Birmingham.”

The free event at the Priory Rooms in Birmingham city centre was fully subscribed and attracted people from social enterprises in a range of sectors including health and well-being, education, charity support, the environment, events, catering and music.

SEWM marketing manager Claire Reynolds said: “Social Enterprise West Midlands were delighted to co-host this event with John Taylor Hospice to help local social enterprises access expert advice to help them raise their profile in the media.

As a membership organisation for social enterprises and social businesses we hear, and share, so many fantastic stories of organisations making positive impacts in communities. We encourage our members to harness the power of the media to showcase how and why they do business differently but understand the challenges in sharing those stories in the wider media.

We were delighted to see attendees taking away many top tips from the experts’ industry insight which will help them raise their profile in the media and the social enterprise sector as a whole.”

For more information on John Taylor Hospice please click on and for more on SEWM click on


Social Enterprise

John Taylor Hospice FAB programme shortlisted for award

A specialist breathing clinic which has helped more than 200 local people has been shortlisted for a top award.

The team behind John Taylor Hospice’s pioneering Fatigue, Anxiety and Breathlessness (FAB) programme are delighted to have been shortlisted for a Nursing Times award in the Respiratory Nursing category.

FAB was created by the Birmingham hospice’s physiotherapist Louise Tipson and occupational therapist Faye Collins in 2010, drawing from their experiences of working with patients with severe respiratory conditions.

Faye said: “It means a lot to us to have been shortlisted for this award and it’s great to think that others have been inspired by FAB. We know how much respiratory conditions can affect people’s lives both physically and psychologically.

FAB offers something different – a holistic and multi-professional programme that takes a patient-centred approach to managing symptoms. It’s all part of the ‘Taylor-made’ care we offer at John Taylor Hospice.

Each FAB programme consists of nine two hour sessions aimed at developing knowledge and understanding of different respiratory diseases. Up to 12 people are invited to start and finish the self-management programme as a group, which also promotes a relaxed and social atmosphere and peer support.

Faye Collins (left) and Louise Tipson_v2

“Being able to restore a normal breathing pattern when you get into difficulties takes knowledge and skill,” added Louise. “Using cognitive behavioural and physical therapies, Tai Chi-based exercises and relaxation techniques, we help people to manage their symptoms and regain control.”

CEO Kate Phipps said: “It’s fantastic that the hospice has been recognised in this way. FAB has had a phenomenal impact on local communities – patient feedback tells us this. The team have been developing and building on this success so that we can do more to make sure every moment matters for the people in our care.”

Respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) lead to low self-esteem, social isolation and a poor quality of life which in turn places a high burden on the NHS.

Originally launched as a pilot project, the breathlessness programme has gone from strength to strength. Today, it is setting a new benchmark for the West Midlands region for how to help people with breathing difficulties to self-manage their symptoms and avoid hospital admissions.

Respiratory palliative care nurse Philippa Campbell also helps to run the sessions, which also involve a wide range of other specialisms including dietetics, pharmacy, nursing, social work and psychology.

The FAB team will present their entry to a judging panel in September in the next stage of the awards and the winners will be announced in November.

For more information on FAB call Faye Collins or Louise Tipson on 0121 465 2000. 

Chapter 1 gives home composting a 2nd Chance Workshop in Nuneaton on Wednesday 24 June

Chapter 1’s 2nd Chance furniture re-use project and Warwickshire County Council (WCC) are giving the public a chance to learn about home composting.

The workshops are run by the County Council and cover everything you need to start composting. Everyone attending will be able to buy a compost bin for just £5.00 (normal RRP £49.95) and get a free pack of seeds. It’s all part of a drive to encourage more people to compost their food and garden waste at home.

A recent survey in Warwickshire found that around 16,000 tonnes of compostable waste goes into landfill from grey wheelie bins every year, costing the county £1.6 million in disposal costs. Each compost bin used to its full capacity saves £12.00 a year.

The seeds are part of Kew Gardens’ Big Lottery funded “grow wild – flowers to the people”. They include a guide to get started, five packets of native British wild flower seeds, site markers and a DIY bee house.

Cllr Jeff Clarke, Chair of Warwickshire Waste Management Partnership, said: “Composting food and garden waste at home is an excellent way to reduce the amount of compostable waste sent to landfill and make savings, and it gives the home owner a free soil conditioner. The workshop offers the council a great opportunity to work in partnership with Chapter1 2nd Chance.

Nuneaton-based furniture re-use service, 2nd Chance, is a part of the national charity, Chapter 1. They collect unwanted, but good quality, furniture and other household items and makes them available, at an affordable cost to one and all. For those on benefits and low incomes a discount is given to enable them to furnish their homes.

Nat Kidd, Chapter 1 service manager for 2nd Chance, said: “Chapter 1 are pleased to be able to host this workshop at our re-use superstore. This initiative complements our aims of reducing waste, and encouraging recycling and re-use. It also helps support the valuable work that Chapter 1 does across the country, changing lives one by one.”

The workshop is being held at Chapter 1, 2nd Chance Furniture Re-use, Weddington Terrace, Nuneaton on Wednesday 24th June at 12.15pm – 1.00pm.

To book your place on the workshop please go to or contact Warwickshire County Council on 01926 412724 or 01926 418088.

Bournemouth Social Enterprise and office products supplier scoops “Dealer of the year” award

Supply Shack, a social enterprise in Bournemouth, has been awarded the “Dealer of the year – under £1 million” award. The prestigious prize was announced at Superstat Conference 2015 in Liverpool on Friday 12th June.

Superstat is the most progressive office product dealer group in the UK. Every year, it hosts a national conference followed by a Superstat Awards Dinner to recognise and reward those in the office supplies industry. The “Dealer of the year” award category is designed to recognise a dynamic dealer that meets the needs of its customers by providing a comprehensive package of products, resources and services, with pioneering initiatives to elevate as a forerunner in the market.

Commenting on winning the award, Supply Shack’s managing director Des Day said, “We’re over the moon with winning this prestigious award which I would like to dedicate to all the team at Supply Shack and all our customers who made this possible. Keep buying social and there will be so much more we can give back to good causes.”

Founded in 2011 in Bournemouth as a social enterprise with an ethos of trading for social and environmental purposes, Supply Shack is growing at a rapid pace. The company has earned a lot of favour from a wide range of businesses for high-quality and competitively priced office products with profits going to good causes and providing employment opportunities for those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Supply Shack is a holder of the Social Enterprise Mark

University Recognised For Commitment To Social Enterprise

The DEVON-based University of St Mark & St John has become one of only four universities in the UK to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark, indicating that it is a social enterprise supporting the community, the environment and with good social purpose.

The Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the UK and international certification authority that safeguards social enterprise credentials. Only organisations that can prove they put people and planet before shareholder profit are awarded a license to display the Social Enterprise Mark.

The University of St Mark & St John is on a new trajectory having secured HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) funding of nearly £3million to enable the development of new courses, infrastructure, and the estate. It ranks as first in the UK for social mobility and has the highest-ranking graduate employment of the four Universities in Devon and Cornwall, with 95% of graduates achieving employment within six months.

Professor Brendon Noble, Executive Dean of Research, Postgraduate and Innovation at the University of St Mark & St John said: “We’re extremely proud to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark and the University of St Mark & St John is absolutely committed to supporting social enterprise and consequently helping local communities and the broader South West region to thrive and prosper.

“Our students will continue to contribute to our social enterprise philosophy through the use of skills they have acquired while studying; a strong volunteering ethos and positive attitude towards growing a better society”.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC, added: “We are delighted to award the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark to the University of St Mark & St John. Social enterprises work to many different priorities, so it’s great to see a vital, local university understanding the importance of demonstrating the social value of their organisation.”

Subjected to an assessment process that is overseen by an independent Certification Panel, the University of St Mark & St John’s detailed activities, company documents and accounts were scrutinised. As a result the University of St Mark & St John has earned the Social Enterprise Mark guarantee that income is used to the benefit of making a positive impact on the local society and economy.

The University of St Mark & St John joins other ethical organisations that have been recognised by the Social Enterprise Mark, such as the Age UK Enterprises, Eden Project, Big Issue, and the Phone Coop.

Government data estimates that there are 70,000 social enterprises across the UK, contributing over £24 billion to the economy and employing around a million people.

Social enterprises plough the majority of their profits back into activities that benefit people and planet, rather than just lining shareholders pockets. However, some businesses are taking advantage as there is no legal definition for them. The Social Enterprise Mark is the guardian of genuine social enterprise principles. It safeguards these principles through the independent Certification process.