Let’s fix our future – join our crowdfunder campaign

Our mission is the heart of everything we do at Social Enterprise Mark CIC, and as part of the Future Economy Alliance we’re campaigning to make this way of working the national norm. 

Inequalities are rising, divisions are deepening, and the climate crisis is growing. Trains are cancelled, rivers are polluted, people are having to choose between heating and eating – while the companies behind these vital services record huge profits. Our local councils are going bankrupt, our high streets are empty, and our NHS is on its knees. Nothing works anymore. 

At the heart of this is a broken system. Do we work for the economy, or does the economy work for us? ‘Business as usual’ isn’t working – so let’s change it. Let’s unleash the power of business to benefit people and planet. Let’s build a stronger, fairer, greener economy where all of society profits. Let’s fix our future. 

We’ve joined the Future Economy Alliance to highlight the importance of working for a purpose beyond profit, and make this mission-led approach the national norm. An estimated four million of us work in mission-led organisations, and we’re living proof that business can be a force for good; we just need those in power to unleash our potential. 

Ahead of the General Election, we’re ready to guide our next government in the bold reforms needed to fix our economy – and with your help, we can take our message into the corridors of power and put these issues at the top of the political agenda. 


We’re crowdfunding to create a unique creative campaign that will really grab our leaders’ attention and put fixing our economy at the top of the policy agenda. Although we have the ambition and drive to change the system, we can’t do it alone; we’re stronger together. Will you help us? 

We’re gearing up for an exciting campaign stunt to grab the attention of our leaders and cut through the political noise with a bold message of change and hope: that we can build a new economy where all of society profits. We’re working with a creative agency to really bring our campaign to life, and anything you can donate will help make our message heard in the corridors of power.  

To build an economy that really works for our society, we need support from across that society. Every donation is a step towards a stronger, fairer, greener future for all of us. Join the Future Economy Alliance, join the movement, and let’s fix our future. 


Hogan Lovells

Pro bono legal support for social enterprises

Hogan Lovells’ social enterprise practice HL BaSE is offering 6 months of free legal advice to social entrepreneurs through its HL BaSE Training programme.

Successful applicants will be matched with a small team of lawyers to advise on their legal query, starting in the week of 25th September.

Any interested social enterprises can either apply here or contact socialenterprise@hoganlovells.com with any questions.

As well as UK-based social enterprises Hogan Lovells can also offer advice to social enterprises in Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands/BeNeLux (or who require support under EU law).

Photo of green shoots emerging from soil

Participate in research on strategy in emerging social enterprises

Are you an aspiring social change maker in London, aiming to create social impact while generating income through your venture? Whether you have a promising idea, a venture in its early stages, or one that’s started scaling up, your story matters.

Peter Nimmo, a lecturer at London South Bank University’s Business School, is conducting research which seeks to understand the critical early days of social enterprises and how strategies evolve during the start-up process.

Peter is passionate about seeing communities flourish and social businesses thrive. Join him in shaping the future of social entrepreneurship by sharing your journey for his research.

Reach out to Peter directly at nimmop@lsbu.ac.uk to contribute your insights and experiences.

You can connect with Peter on LinkedIn for updates about his research and to connect with like-minded changemakers.

The Good Report

Share your opinions on ethical business and the cost of living crisis

In Good Company logoIn Good Company is currently conducting research for their upcoming Good Report, looking at living sustainably, supporting small businesses with ethics and how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting both consumers and good businesses.

We all know the cost-of-living crisis is putting pressure on us as individuals and that small businesses – especially those operating with ethics – are finding it tough.

In Good Company hears lots of anecdotes about how challenging it is to be an ethical small business owner right now, and how consumer behaviour is changing as a result of the current financial climate, but so far has not seen any real detail published anywhere.

Their forthcoming Good Report will really dig into the detail behind the soundbite, and they want to hear from ethical businesses, to ensure they’re building a genuine, representative snapshot into what’s happening for ethical and sustainable businesses right now.

Visit this link to participate in the survey – https://tripetto.app/run/UAMC5SYNBD

Social Enterprise Scotland Awards logo

Social Enterprise Awards Scotland open for applications

The Social Enterprise Awards Scotland are back for 2023, celebrating the incredible work and impact of social enterprises across Scotland.

The awards are a real opportunity to showcase the very best of the sector, highlighting the agility, ability and active role that social enterprises play in building places, supporting communities and making a positive impact on our environment and wellbeing.

This year, three new categories have been introduced providing further opportunities for social enterprises and those who work with them to be recognised for their impact. These are:

  • Building Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Justice Award
  • Tech for Good Award
  • Social Enterprise Volunteer Champion Award

These are in addition to the existing six award categories:

  • Social Enterprise of the Year Scotland Award
  • One to Watch Award
  • Buy Social – Market Builder Award
  • Health and Social Care Award
  • Environmental Social Enterprise Award
  • Social Enterprise Employee Champion Award

All social enterprises that operate in Scotland or individuals that work/volunteer in Scotland are eligible to enter.

Applications are open until 9am on Monday 3rd July. Visit the Social Enterprise Scotland website to find out more and start your application today!

UK social enterprise awards 2023 badge

Applications are open for the UK Social Enterprise Awards

Applications are now open for the UK Social Enterprise Awards – the biggest celebration of the leading lights in the social enterprise movement.

As well as the award for overall Social Enterprise of the Year and the ‘One-to-Watch Award’ recognising a pioneering start-up business, there are categories for social enterprises leading the way in particular fields, from education and training to public services. The awards will also recognise social enterprises tackling the climate crisis as well as those working to promote equality, diversity, inclusion and justice.

For the first time, there is a specific award recognising the ‘Social Enterprise Innovation of the Year’, shining a spotlight on the creativity in the sector.

Applications close on Friday 30th June and the winners will be announced at a gala ceremony taking place at the Roundhouse in London on 30th November.

Click here to find out more and apply.

Calling all social enterprises: the State of Social Enterprise survey is now live

The State of Social Enterprise survey 2023

The State of Social Enterprise survey is now live!

Run every two years by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), the State of Social Enterprise (SOSE) survey is the most comprehensive survey of UK social enterprises. Results are used by government, social investors, sector bodies and support organisations.

This vital evidence helps shape policy, influence support, funding and finance to grow the social enterprise movement. SEUK is working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to ensure that vital data and evidence on social enterprise helps inform policy-making. Data from SOSE has been instrumental in major legislation including the passing of the Social Value Act, the creation of Big Society Capital and Access -The Foundation for Social Investment.

SEUK is calling on all social enterprises to take part. If you’re an SEUK member you will be contacted by market research company, BMG Research, which is carrying out the survey. Social enterprises who are not SEUK members can participate by registering their interest at research@socialenterprise.org.uk.

Get your voice heard and help show why social enterprise is business at its best! Click here to find out more and get involved.

Pro-bono alert

Does your social enterprise need expert help?

ProBono Alert is a new and simple tool that social enterprises and other good causes can access via Google Chrome. It’s a plugin that automatically tells you when free support that you need is available.

Developed in partnership with leading businesses and charities – ProBono Alert makes it quick and easy to get the pro bono support you need and it’s free to use.

Download Pro Bono Alert today to find out what free support is available


EDEEY: Helping Aspiring Entrepreneurs Conference

The Ethical Digital Entrepreneurship for European Youth (EDEEY project) conference will showcase online learning platform that supports aspiring #entrepreneurs who are starting out on their ethical and social enterprise journey.

At the London conference you will hear from young people who are winners in the EDEEY competition to come up with a business idea and create a business plan. Expert speakers at the conference include our own Lucy Findlay MBE along with Christina Bonarou from Symplexis (Greece) and Sculpt’s Chief Executive Dr. Claire Bonham.

The learning platform has four available courses on:

1. Business Planning

2. Access to Finance and other support for your enterprise

3. Social Media and Content Marketing

4. GDPR and Digital Skills

Sculpt will be sharing the pilot cohort experience of the training resources in the UK, Cyprus, Czech Republic and Greece, and there will also be an opportunity to explore the online learning platform.

Lucy Findlay MBE says, “I am pleased to support the work of Sculpt. It’s really important for young people to find a source of support and guidance in their aspirations to help create a better world as well as to network and share with those with who have the same values.”

Book your place to attend in-person 22 June 2022 here.

Download the conference flyer here: Sculpt – EDEEY Conference JUNE 2022


Comm Growth Plan 2022

Community Enterprise Growth Plan: The Future of Dormant Funds

A coalition of organisations including partners Access Foundation, Impact Investing Institute, NAVCA, Power to Change, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Social Enterprise UK and Big Society Capital are launching The Community Enterprise Growth Plan.

Social enterprise, charity representative bodies and social investors have joined forces to call on Government to get behind a new plan to back enterprises in underserved places and communities in the forthcoming consultation on Dormant Assets.

The proposed new ‘Community Enterprise Growth Plan’ focuses on the untapped potential for growing enterprises with a social purpose across the country, particularly in places and communities that have been deprived of investment in the past. This includes areas identified by the index of multiple deprivation and those led by or serving protected groups such as people from ethnic minority backgrounds, those with an impairment or facing gender bias.

A 12-week consultation on the future use of dormant assets in England is expected to be launched this summer. The expanded scheme could release more than £880m additional funds for charities and social enterprises.





SEMCIC Stakeholder Survey 2022

As we look to move into a new phase of growth, we are keen to consult our stakeholders on the development of our accreditation services, to ensure our services continue to address the evolving needs of the growing social enterprise sector.

We invite you to take part in our 2022 Stakeholder Survey, to share your thoughts on the services we provide and our role in the sector, as well as our future strategic direction.

The deadline to complete the survey is Monday 30th of May and your participation is greatly appreciated!

As a thank you for your time, you have the option to be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a free one-to-one marketing masterclass from our Marketing Lead at Social Enterprise Mark.

Kind Regards,

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

SEEchange conference

SEEchange Collaboration Conference

On Monday 25th April 2022, Social Enterprise Mark CIC and Cambio: House of Social Change came together for SEEchange THE GOLDEN THREAD collaboration conference focused on the universities sector and social enterprise engagement.

The conference was delighted to welcome a diverse range of expert speakers and roundtable facilitators and the input, energy and enthusiasm throughout the day whether in the thought-leader sessions, panel Q&A, roundtables or networking…. There was certainly a lot of valuable networking going on, which is fantastic!

Feedback from the conference has been really encouraging in that people enjoyed being ‘in the room’ and being a collective has allowed for those adhoc conversations and meet ups that often bring opportunity and action, perhaps an element of dialogue that is often hard to simulate on a Zoom call.

Absolutely outstanding conference yesterday… making many new connections!”

“Really energetic discussion on our table!”

“Excellent event…. Great speakers with short talks, lots of networking… Superb hospitality.”

For those who attended the event thank you for letting us know what comes from the event for you and your organisation…. new connections, new opportunities, a contract or collaboration of like-minded enterprises. We’d love to hear about it!

Finally, a short summary is available to download here SEEchange Conference SUMMARY April 2022 Final and we’re very much looking forward to the Pioneers Post article so please keep an eye on our social media channels for that release soon!

It is really important that we acknowledge the kind support from our partners who enabled this event to take place:

Nat West SE100 Awards 2022

NatWest SE100 Index & Social Business Awards 2022 – Open for Applications!

Pioneers Post and NatWest are once again seeking entries for the NatWest SE100 Index & Social Business Awards.

This is your #socent chance to be counted among the UK’s top #socialenterprises for 2022.

There is also a new Equality Award is being launched for this year’s NatWest SE100 Awards. The new category will recognise social enterprises that are leading by example and inspiring others to embed equity, equality, diversity and inclusion into their organisations and their work in communities across the UK.

Nat West SE100 Awards 2022

APPG Inquiry into the impact of COVID on social enterprises

Great to hear from Charles Courtenay (Earl of Devon) Liz Minns Social Enterprise UK Karen Lynch (nee Borsberry-Woods) Lindsey Hall Real Ideas Organisation as some of the Panelists at the #APPG Inquiry Report Launch on behalf of Lucy Findlay MBE who contributed to the #socialenterpise sector evidencing on behalf of Social Enterprise Mark CIC and #SE_Mark Holders.

The role of the Inquiry was to investigate the impact of COVID on social enterprises and what lessons can be learned.

The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises experienced the pandemic in a unique way having to balance both increased demand from those people they support and pressure on their business. Many adapted their business models and pivoted to support their communities at a faster rate than their peers.

The inquiry identified four key themes during the course of its work.

  1. Lack of understanding of social enterprise across HM Government
  2. The importance of place-based working and local delivery
  3. The vital contribution of social enterprises to public services
  4. The substantial opportunity for social enterprises to contribute to the UK’s recovery and levelling up after the pandemic

Resonant themes include localism, joined up working, social economy and move of #socent to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)… lots to unpack, well worth a read.

📔 3 mins and a good ☕️

READ MORE and download the full report:
Inquiry into the impact of COVID on social enterprises » Social Enterprise UK

WiSE100 2022 list announced

WiSE100 Announced…. Our Congratulations to All

Exciting announcements this afternoon as the NatWest WiSE100 top women in social enterprise list is revealed!

Pioneers Post has now shared the incredible 100 women in the UK who are leading the way across the social enterprise sector…. and we are delighted that our own Lucy Findlay MBE is featured for the third consecutive year….

I am absolutely delighted to be named again this year in this prestigious list of amazing women.  It’s important to recognise the leadership of women, many often do not identify with the term ‘leader’.  Now more than ever we need a diversity in perspective that can help bring about a better world.

Lucy Findlay MBE, Founder & Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Also in the 2022 list of Women in Social Enterprise 100, we extend our warmest congratulations to Mark Holders who are brilliant ambassadors for the social enterprise sector: Devi Clark and Emma Lange of Impact Hub Kings Cross, Emma Lower of Lendology CIC, Julie Hawker CEO of Cosmic IT, Jacqueline Hollows of Beyond Recovery and Shannon Gorman of Resonance.

Next week, Pioneers Post will reveal the finalists in each of the four awards categories: Social Business Leader, Star of the Future, Environmental Champion and Social Business Champion. This will be followed on 18th March 2022 with a daytime celebration of the final Awards and winners of each category kindly hosted by NatWest Social & Community Capital. Book here to secure your free place (tickets numbers are restricted but still available).

Read more and explore the full #WiSE100 list here.

8 Tips For Success: Taking Your Social Enterprise To The Next Level

Charity Bank and Social Enterprise Mark CIC meet an expert guide banner

We have recently collaborated with Charity Bank on the latest instalment of their Meet an Expert series, where they bring together sector leaders to provide expert opinion and insights to charities and social enterprises.

In a special guide, our MD Lucy Findlay shares her tips to help other social enterprises to learn from the mistakes and benefit from the wisdom Social Enterprise Mark CIC has accrued over the last decade of working within the sector.

Download your free copy from the Charity Bank website.

Map of Europe with text overlay 'esem' with a magnifying glass

Closing the gap between social enterprises and EU decision-makers

Are you an Impact Practitioner concerned more about creating social and environmental good than profit? Do you want to have a say in social enterprise policies, investments and strategies that will affect your organisation’s future?

Make your voice heard! Take the European Social Enterprise Monitor (ESEM) survey and seize your opportunity to influence the next generation of social enterprise policies and funding on the national and on the European level.

The European Social Entrepreneurship Monitor is an initiative by Euclid Network, the European Network of Social Enterprise Support Organisations, in collaboration with close to 40 social enterprise support organisation members, partners and universities, and supported by the European Commission, Google.org, SAP, ImpactCity, Bertelsmann Stiftung, the World Economic Forum and Schwab Foundation.

Launched in 2020, it aims to to cooperate internationally to close the current social enterprise data gap and inform policymakers, investors and social enterprise support organisations on the needs and barriers that social entrepreneurs face nationally and internationally.

If you would like to know more about the project and read the 2020-2021 ESEM Report, you can access it on the Euclid Network Knowledge Centre

Pioneers Post media partnerMaking a Mark competition

Partnership to boost the importance of storytelling for social enterprises

We are excited to announce we are working in partnership with social enterprise news network Pioneers Post to recognise and celebrate the fantastic stories of change that characterise the social enterprise sector.

Pioneers Post has come on board as the official media partner of our Making a Mark competition, which will showcase the incredible impact social enterprises have been creating during the Covid-19 pandemic, by sharing stories of how they have responded to the challenges of the last 12 months and weathered the storm to play a vital role in the response to the Covid outbreak. Pioneers Post Founding Editor Tim West will be joining an external judging panel, which will review the competition entries to select a shortlist and final winner, which will be announced in June.

Speaking about his role as a judge, Tim West said:

Tim West“What is a good story and how do you tell it in the most effective way? We all like to celebrate success – and goodness knows, we need some celebrating after the past year – but at Pioneers Post, we think the best ‘success stories’ are not simply about triumph in the face of adversity, but are those that we can all learn from. They need to be clear, engaging and honest – telling the whole story, warts and all, without glossing over the difficult stuff.

So in this Making a Mark competition, the ‘winning’ stories for me will be those that move and inspire but which also confront the challenges, explain the solutions – and provide more opportunities for positive impact as we ‘build back better’ in the coming months and years.”

Pioneers Post is an independent media platform committed to ‘solutions-led’ journalism. Operating as a social enterprise, it aims to explore, explain, connect, challenge and inspire this new wave of changemakers around the globe, whose pioneering approaches seek to build a better future for people and planet.

SE100As part of the partnership, we will be supporting the NatWest SE100 Index and Social Business Awards, which has been delivered by Pioneers Post, in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, for the last ten years.

The SE100 Index recognises and rewards the leading 100 social enterprises across the UK each year, and also builds greater intelligence about the growing social enterprise movement through the collection of both data and stories. We are encouraging our social enterprise network to enter the awards and our MD Lucy Findlay is also joining the SE100 judging panel, which will select the nominees/entrants which demonstrate best business practice in six categories: Growth, Impact, Resilience, Leadership, Social Investment and Climate, as well as selecting an award-winner in each of these categories.

Speaking about the partnership, Lucy Findlay said:

“We are really delighted to be working in partnership with our old friends at Pioneers Post.  Working together we can really highlight some of the great work and stories from social enterprises that have been on the cutting edge of both responding to the pandemic as well as helping communities to recover as we move forwards into hopefully a more positive outlook for us all. 

Social enterprises are so important at this time.  We need to use every opportunity available to illustrate our leadership in creating a more sustainable economy that helps address the huge disparities that have been further exacerbated over this devastating year.”

Social enterprises can find out more information about the SE100 Index and Social Business Awards and submit nominations/applications here: https://www.pioneerspost.com/news-views/20210312/uk-social-enterprise-top-100-champion-climate-action-and-covid-recovery

Health Devolution Commission; an independent and cross party inquiry into the value and accountability of devolved health systems.

Health Devolution Commission response to Integration & Innovation White Paper

The cross party Health Devolution Commission, co-chaired by Andy Burnham and Norman Lamb, has recently published a response to the Integration and Innovation White Paper, which was published by the Department of Health and Social Care on  11th February.

The White Paper is primarily about reform of the structures and ‘wiring’ of the NHS in England and ways that that the NHS may work more closely with Local Government and the social care system to achieve the objectives of the NHS Long Term Plan. The shift from competition to collaboration as the organising principle of the NHS is a major and welcome change to its way of working.

The Health Devolution Commission reports that the proposals are a positive and strong foundation to build equal partnerships between Local Government and the NHS in order to improve health and wellbeing outcomes, improve care and treatment and deliver best value.

However, it also reports that the proposals do not address the need for fundamental reform and funding of social care and, therefore, in their current form, the proposals are not  a comprehensive proposal for the integration of health and social care. Nor do they necessarily provide the necessary step change for improving and integrating public health, tackling health inequalities, ensuring parity of esteem for mental health services and addressing the social determinants of ill-health.

There are two key issues that the Commission feels require detailed examination before the White Paper becomes law:

  • the purpose of the proposed ICS reforms;
  • where power will really lie when the reforms become law.

From these arise twelve specific questions that the Commission believes need to be answered by the Government before the White Paper becomes a Bill and then law.

The Commission will therefore be holding two evidence sessions (by Zoom) to examine these two issues and address the twelve questions

Roundtable 1 – What is the purpose of integrated care system; health in all policies, tackling health inequalities and a voice for patients?

Chaired by Rt Hon Norman Lamb

Monday 26th April 3:30 – 5:00pm

Invited speakers:

  • Professor Michael Marmot – on health inequalities
  • Anita Charlesworth, The Health Foundation – on health in all policies
  • Imelda Redmond from HealthWatch – on patient voice
  • Simon Stevens – NHSE

Roundtable 2 – Integrated care system governance; where will the power really lie?

Chaired by Rt Hon Andy Burnham

Friday 21st May 2:00 – 3:30pm

Invited speakers:

  • DHSC
  • LGA
  • Third sector
  • IfG

To register your interest in attending one or more of these events please email info@devoconnect.co.uk.

The Health Devolution Commission would also like to invite written evidence (2 page max) in response to the 12 questions asked – please answer as many or as few as you wish but please note two pages is the absolute limit! The deadline for submissions is the 26th of April.

Enterprise Development Programme logo

Enterprise Development Programme supports social enterprise to gain accreditation

Second Shot Coffee logoSecond Shot Coffee, a social enterprise that trains, employs, and supports people affected by homelessness, has met recognised standards of good practice to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark.

The Social Enterprise Mark is an externally assessed accreditation, which provides an independent guarantee that an organisation has met sector-agreed criteria and is operating as a genuine social enterprise, committed to creating positive social change.

Second Shot Coffee was supported to apply for accreditation through the Enterprise Development Programme, which aims to support charities and social enterprises to become more financially resilient by developing new enterprise models, or by growing existing ones.

The Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and delivered by a coalition of national partners, including Homeless Link, which is the delivery partner for the homelessness sector. As part of the programme, Homeless Link worked with Julius Ibrahim, founder of Second Shot Coffee, to identify which support could help them grow their enterprise activity to become more financially sustainable.

Murphy Hopkins-Hubbard, Enterprise Development Manager at Homeless Link, suggested to Julius that accreditation may be beneficial for Second Shot Coffee and the EDP grant supported him to apply for the Social Enterprise Mark. After an independent assessment process to ensure the organisation met the sector-agreed criteria, which defines what it means to be a social enterprise, Second Shot Coffee was awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in early February 2021.

Murphy Hopkins-HubbardMurphy said: “We have worked with 20 homelessness organisations this year as part of the Enterprise Development Programme and each of them has undergone diagnostic consultations to understand what support would be most valuable. It’s so exciting to see Julius’s work with developing Second Shot Coffee recognised through the Social Enterprise Mark. We hope to find this accreditation boosts the credibility of the organisation as well as boost opportunities for partnerships.”

Second Shot Coffee was set up to tackle negative misconceptions and lack of understanding around homelessness. By providing employment and training to individuals that have been failed by society, it aims to eliminate these perceptions and bring people closer together, and in doing so improve the long-term life outcomes and wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness.

Julius IbrahimOn being awarded the Social Enterprise Mark, Julius Ibrahim said “Creating meaningful impact has been at the core of Second Shot Coffee since we opened in 2016. It’s amazing to now have the Social Enterprise Mark to underpin that dedication and to highlight the work we do. Going forward we’re excited to grow within the community and work with new partners to shout about the importance of social businesses as we progress on to the next phase of the Second Shot story.”

To find out more about Second Shot Coffee click here.

To find out more about Homeless Link and the Enterprise Development Programme click here.

Top 100 women in social enterprise

Euclid Network announces Europe’s Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, Euclid Network has announced the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise, which features women leaders in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation from across Europe.

Lucy Findlay with her Euclid Network Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise certificateOur Managing Director Lucy Findlay was delighted to be included in this list of exceptional social enterprise women leaders, in recognition of her contribution to the social enterprise sector over the last decade.

Lucy said “I’m honoured to be in the company of so many amazingly driven women who are acting to change the world for the better. I think that this initiative is a great idea – it gives well deserved recognition, profile and voice to women in the sector who are often quietly getting on with the job.”

For almost 15 years, Euclid Network has been fostering social entrepreneurship and social innovation in Europe through knowledge exchange, capacity building, networking and international advocacy. In the spirit of empowering women leaders in Europe, it launched the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise initiative in partnership with Empow’her, to celebrate women in the social enterprise sector, spotlighting their impact, journey and achievements, connecting them and enabling them to learn from and inspire each other.

Click here to meet the women who are leading the way in social entrepreneurship and innovation in the European social enterprise sector.

Free WriteWell community places for accredited social enterprises

Do you need a way to de-stress and boost your positivity?

WriteWell logoWriteWell, a new online writing community designed to support mental health and wellbeing, offers people the opportunity to explore writing as a practical self-care tool to boost health and happiness — no writing experience is necessary.

To support our social enterprise community during the pandemic we’ve partnered with WriteWell to offer a number of FREE 3-month places on a first come, first served basis.

Illustration on a hand holding a pencil and drawing a plant stemWriteWell offers the opportunity to tune into the power that writing and creativity have to bring perspective and fresh insight, particularly in difficult times. A growing body of research shows that writing and creativity can have a positive effect on mental health and help to build resilience. At the same time, being part of a learning community and writing alongside others can motivate, inspire change, and help alleviate feelings of isolation.

WriteWell is designed to work for people from all education levels and backgrounds, and as well as supporting mental health offers the opportunity to develop writing and creative skills that are much in demand in the professional arena.

The online platform offers a variety of learning activities for people to take part in. There are courses designed to help you build resilience, navigate change and create calm, as well live workshops with writing and wellbeing experts. There are also fun creative warm-ups, a library packed with uplifting resources, and a monthly book group.

WriteWell offers a safe learning space with moderators managing the community day to day, helping people find and complete activities. It is easy to access and easy to use.

The online community has been developed by the Professional Writing Academy, which already offers advanced therapeutic writing courses and has nearly 20 years’ experience of building online learning communities and premium courses.

Social enterprises accredited by  Social Enterprise Mark CIC can reserve their free 3-month place by clicking here. You must be over 18.

More information about WriteWell is available here.

Wooden tiles spelling out the MIND THE G_P

Mind the gap: Women’s leadership in social enterprise

By Lucy Findlay (MD of Social Enterprise Mark CIC), Julie Hawker (Joint CEO of COSMIC) and Pauline Gannon (CEO of Social Impact Ireland)

International Women's Day banner with photos of Lucy Findlay, Julie Hawker and Pauline Gannon

Like many, as three women leaders in the social enterprise sector, we have been carrying on supporting our teams and negotiating our businesses around the challenges of this time of crisis. For us it has meant looking hard at what we are doing, exploring different ways of working and responding to the needs of our customers and stakeholders as well as planning for how we will contribute to a better society moving forwards.

Now, there is no denying that leading any organisation, business, charity has been tough this past year whether male or female. But it’s also true that many, many women in leadership positions do not benefit from established networks for their support and peer learning. And this applies in business, charity, but especially in social enterprises where the prioritisation of networking and support has rarely been strong, and even less-so during this time of unprecedented crisis. But as we start to put our heads back above ground-level once more, its clear we need support.

Women tend to lead with more empathy and tend to have a personal connection to the work they do within the Social Enterprise space. A global pandemic has heightened the need for empathy, a need we, as women, rise to meet. Whether it’s the teams we work within, our services users, friends or family, with the heightened need for empathy comes also a heightened feeling of stress. 

So, when life is so frenetic, as we have experienced in particular over the past year, it can be hard to focus on our own support needs and this can lead to a feeling of isolation and disempowerment. Technology can help, but sometimes it adds to the communication pressure that we all feel, which can be overwhelming both in our businesses and in our private lives (which have merged more than ever over the last year). Zooms and Teams meetings also makes it harder to read the room and respond to the needs of both our staff and customers, who are all affected by the pandemic themselves.

Leadership programmes are hard enough to come by in social enterprise let alone a programme aimed at women. This need is more urgent now than ever, we all crave that quality connection with like-minded women in a space that inspires but also allows the real issues to be discussed, along with much needed peer to peer support.

Many women who find themselves leading social enterprises have a recognition that they “never chose to be CEO – the job chose me!”… our passion is often the factor that led us to achievements, and to role seniority. Our commitment, vision and values provided the leverage to get to the top. And it’s a lonely place, particularly during the past year.

Focus and facilitated time are essential for creativity and innovation are much harder to come by. Craving connection with those who inspire and understand our space, drive and ambition. You can’t just go for a coffee with a friend or colleague and chat! All three of us have found that much of our drive and strength come from informally speaking, exchanging ideas and working together and this becomes much more of an effort when we can no longer meet face to face.

We have also had brief discussions about how we gain more formal support through leadership programmes. According to the 2019 State of Social Enterprise Report, 40% of social enterprises are run by women. We did a bit of research and found….. nothing! Leadership programmes are hard enough to come by in social enterprise let alone a programme aimed at women. This need is more urgent now than ever,  we all crave that quality connection with like-minded women in a space that inspires but also allows the real issues to be discussed, along with much needed peer to peer support.   

There are some great initiatives which are adding profile to the work of women leading in Social Enterprises, including the Natwest WISE100 celebrating the top 100 women working each year – 2020 included Lucy for her work with Social Enterprise Mark CIC. But there are no specific networks or peer learning programmes that we could find. And so this got us thinking – is this a gap we could fill?

International Women's DayThis made us think about how we get the conversation going. Being three female ‘action takers’, we immediately recognised the opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day today (8th March) by starting the much needed conversation. Therefore, we have decided to invite you, the women who inspire us, as a start. Some of the Social Enterprise Mark community’s international women leaders and supporters will attend an initial meeting to discuss this very issue and how we can better support one another as a network.  We can’t wait to hear the ideas!

If you are interested in joining discussions on this in the future please let us know by emailing us on enquire@socialenterprisemark.org.uk. Do keep an eye on our newsletter too.


New Economy Alliance logos

Lobbying government for improved access to financial support

In response to feedback on the difficulties experienced by many social enterprises in accessing Covid-19 financial support, we are working with our social economy partners to influence the government to ensure that these support packages are available to support social businesses through this crisis.

These businesses are playing a crucial role for our communities in this pandemic. They are easing the pressure on frontline health and care services by producing PPE, facilitating online education and training, providing mental health support, and much more. It is also clear that the pandemic will continue to affect us all for many more months and social entrepreneurs need to be equipped and supported to keep doing their important work for the long-term.

Last week, we sent a letter* to Minister John Glen (Economic Secretary to the Treasury), raising our concerns that many vital services are in danger of being lost unless access to emergency finance is improved.

Back in the autumn, we collected feedback from the social sector, which showed there were some fundamental gaps and challenges in accessing the vital financial support being offered by the government. In particular, we looked at how easy it was for social businesses to navigate the government emergency loan schemes – Bounce Back Loans (BBLs) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs).

The results of our survey, and consistent anecdotal evidence from social enterprises, co-operatives and community businesses, showed us that there are two key obstacles blocking access to government-backed loans:

  1. Many ethical and social banks that social enterprises bank with do not provide Bounce Back Loans
  2. Social enterprises are not able to open new accounts with participating banks

The waiting times to open new accounts are being quoted as months rather than weeks, and some businesses are being turned away by the banks responsible for delivering these loans.

These delays are being further exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure for social enterprises, as many of these businesses have complex bank mandates and ‘out of the ordinary’ legal structures, which require special channels to process loans. A 12 week wait for a loan could be the difference between a business surviving or failing.

We have requested a meeting with John Glen and his team, to agree a way to remove these barriers to the much-needed government-backed loan schemes. We hope that by working together with the government, these two obstacles can be swiftly overcome.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey. Your time and answers have been very useful in helping us shape a supportive response, and we will continue to use them to advocate for a supportive political environment for social businesses.


*Letter signatories:

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Locality
James Alcock, Chief Executive, Plunkett Foundation
Kirsty Cumming, Community Leisure UK
Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC
Colin Jess, Director, Social Enterprise Northern Ireland
Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK
Catherine Manning, Interim Chief Executive, Social Value UK
Rose Marley, Chief Executive, Co-operatives UK
Chris Martin, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Scotland
Mark Norbury, Chief Executive, UnLtd
Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre

State of Social Enterprise survey

State of Social Enterprise 2021

Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) is preparing to run the 2021 State of Social Enterprise (SOSE) survey; the definitive guide to the state of the social enterprise sector in the UK, containing data on turnover, scale, who social enterprises employ, where they operate, who they trade with, pay ratios and more. SOSE data is used by government, corporates, investors/funders, universities/researchers and more.

We encourage all those working in the UK social enterprise sector to get involved in this important research – your participation will help support and promote the sector.

Data will be collected from January to March, with the main report being launched in September. The survey will be run by a research company called BMG. To get involved, please email socialenterprisesurvey@bmgresearch.com by Friday 15th January.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Emily Darko, Director of Research at SEUK – Emily.darko@socialenterprise.org.uk.


A collection of files in a drawer with labels, including 'social', 'strategy', 'CSR'

How could you benefit from skills-based volunteering?

whatimpact.com is on a mission to ensure that resources reach those who need them most and have developed a two-sided marketplace that connects those seeking resources (social enterprises and charities), with those offering resources (grant-makers and corporates).

But they need your help.

whatimpact are working with all kinds of companies, from SMEs to international names like EY, but it is vital that these companies create offerings that meet the needs of social enterprises. They want to know what help you would benefit from most, especially in relation to skills-based volunteering.

All you need to do is take 10 mins to respond to a short survey for the opportunity to have your voice heard and be in with a chance of winning £100 worth of Amazon vouchers!

You can find out more about whatimpact and the work they do on their website, or watch their brand video below.

The whatimpact platform is open to all social enterprises registered with Companies House and you can sign up now – make sure to act fast as the first 50 sign ups get free subscriptions for 6 months!

If you have any questions please email shona@whatimpact.com.

Front cover of Social Entrepreneur Index report

Celebrating the top social entrepreneurs of 2020

Social Entrepreneur Index logoThe Social Entrepreneur Index 2020 campaign has wrapped up with the publication of the Index report, celebrating the social impact, creativity and innovation of 55 of the UK’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs.

We were delighted to support the Index for a second year – our colleague Rachel was involved in the judging and our MD Lucy is part of the team of Ambassadors, which act as shining examples of how social entrepreneurs can make an impact on a local and international level.

On publishing the report, Nicki Clark, Chief Executive of UMi said “At UMi we believe that business has the power to make a difference to the world we live in and with that in mind the index is an inspiring read – what a powerful group of people and enterprises doing amazing things. We hope you will be as impressed as we have been by these trailblazing entrepreneurs.”

You can find out more about the 55 social entrepreneurs listed on the index, plus a further 19 ‘Ones to Watch’ in the Social Entrepreneur Index report.

Health Devolution Commission; an independent and cross party inquiry into the value and accountability of devolved health systems.

Building Back Health and Prosperity – Health Devolution Commission report

The Health Devolution Commission, an independent and cross party inquiry into the value and accountability of devolved health systems, has published its final report ‘Building Back Health and Prosperity‘.

In the report, the commission, which is made up of five former health ministers across the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, calls for comprehensive health devolution across England to address rising inequalities which have been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, we facilitated an online discussion group to support the engagement of social enterprise providers in the Commission, which provided useful and interesting insights into the vital role social enterprises can play in devolved health structures.

The report said that successful health devolution would require deep-rooted partnerships between clinical and civic leaders, as well as community involvement and parity of esteem between the public, private and voluntary sectors.

On the launch of the report, Andy Burham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Co-Chairman of the commission, said coronavirus had shown the “limitations of an overly centralised approach to health delivery”.

Andy BurnhamHe said: “As we look to build back from it, and particularly in those communities hardest hit, we need to do something different. Health is built in homes, families and communities more than hospitals. But health policy in this country is still too focused on treatment rather than prevention.

We need to break out of the Whitehall silos and link health to housing, education and employment. This simple difference makes the argument for health devolution. And it is now the solution of our times as we begin to face up to the inequalities exposed by Covid-19.”

To view the full report, visit the Health Devolution Commission website.

Build Back Better Hackathon logo

Build Back Better Hackathon

As we experience the shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s clear that the effects will go on for many years, and has revealed cracks in our society that have long existed. 

Join a growing consortium of organisations who are collaborating to organise a hackathon to allow us to rebuild a future that is more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

The Build Back Better Hackathon will take place over the weekend of 19th and 20th September and involve thousands of participants to work on challenges focused on health, inclusive work, sustainable communities, food systems, education and more to create solutions for a better future for people and planet. This is an opportunity to connect with others that are motivated to make real change and to be part of something that none of us could do alone.

The Hackathon consortium is looking for people who can contribute in the following ways:

  • Providing expertise and mentoring on key social and environmental issues – identifying or curating the challenges the Hackathon will tackle, advising participants and judging the solutions.
  • Partnership building and fundraising – spreading the word to your networks, enrolling partners, generating offers in kind or cash and recruiting expert mentors. 
  • Marketing, PR and social media – helping to promote the Hackathon widely to partners, mentors, participants and the press.
  • Tech tools and website building – providing technical tools, making sure they are set up for the Hackthon and that guidance is available on how to use them for mentors and participants to navigate the Hackathon successfully.
  • Sponsorship to help cover our vital costs, offer a stipend to those who are giving their time and prizes to allow the successful solutions to be developed further.
  • Just being willing to muck in and help!

If you are interested in getting involved, complete this short form.

As we emerge from this crisis, now is the time to Build Back Better; sign the statement

Join the call to #BuildBackBetter

New research from the New Economics Foundation has showed that only 6% of the UK public want to return to the same type of economy as before the coronavirus outbreak, with almost 1/3 of those polled said they want to see big changes in the way the economy is run. It is clear that now is the time to Build Back Better.

We are proud to support the #BuildBackBetter statement, alongside over 350 other organisations, from civil society, mainstream businesses, trade unions and academia. The statement calls for an economic recovery that:

  • provides high quality public services
  • tackles inequality
  • creates good jobs
  • reduces the risk of future pandemics and climate emergencies

Miatta Fahnbulleh, chief executive of the New Economics Foundation, said: “The crisis has revealed a number of harsh truths – that our health and social care services had been under-resourced, and that longstanding inequalities have left too many people vulnerable. But we have seen what can be achieved when we are faced with a crisis – government can spend wisely, at speed and at scale.”

We encourage you to add your backing to this campaign by signing the statement and sharing widely using the #BuildBackBetter hashtag.


Text over a map of the UK saying "We have called on the PM to create a green recovery that is just for all"

Business leaders call on PM to Build Back Better in recovery from Covid-19

Richard Curtis CBE, Paul Polman, Michael Izza and leaders of more than 100 renowned companies, charities, universities, and trade associations have called on the UK Government to ensure the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK Covid-19 recovery plans.

A letter has been sent to the Prime Minister today (Tuesday 9th June), which references a statement made by the Prime Minister at the Financing for Development event on 28th May, where he called for “fairer, greener and more resilient global economy” after Covid-19. He said that we must “work together to get shared goals back on track including […] the Sustainable Development Goals”.

UKSSD logoThe letter, coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and the United Nations Global Compact Network UK (GCN UK), supports this and states ‘we do not need to reinvent frameworks or agreements, we can instead use the global goals as the basis for a socially just and green recovery in the UK and abroad’.

Early evidence from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission showed that, if implemented, the SDGs create at least US$12trillion in business opportunities in just 60 market hotspots and estimates this could be 2-3 times bigger across the whole economy.

The letter states that the ‘SDGs provide an internationally agreed framework, which also works at national, regional and local level, alongside and reinforcing existing plans and commitments.’ It asks that the SDGs be used ‘to consolidate and future-proof [recovery] plans’ and goes on to recommend that they are used to:

  1. Prioritise the most vulnerable in our society and level-up regional and societal inequalities
  2. Build coherent policies for a healthy planet and to aid the transition to net zero
  3. Unite all sectors behind a plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy

Emily Auckland, Network Director, UKSSD said:

“Covid-19 has placed a spotlight on inequalities in our society. We have an opportunity to make sure our recovery from this crisis is fair and just so that people and places across the UK can prosper. This does not have to be in conflict with our net zero carbon ambitions and the SDGs help us work together to create social and environmental outcomes, so all people have a happy life on a healthy planet”.

The SDGs are part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and give a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. There are 17 Goals at its centre, encompassing climate action, education and health.

Unfortunately, the UKSSD Measuring Up report, found gaps in policy or inadequate performance for 57% of targets, and 15% where there is little to no policy in place to address it, or where performance is poor. It anticipates that this situation will be worsened by the societal and economic impacts of Covid-19.


Photo of a woman with a teatowel draped over her shoulder holding a laptop

Barclays Back to Business programme

In partnership with Cambridge Judge Business School, Barclays has developed the Barclays Back to Business Programme – a free online toolkit to identify and build resilience and recovery plans, which SMEs can navigate in their own time.

The programme will help business owners to assess the health of their business and identify how to sustain and grow it during a crisis, with scenarios they can use to see how the pandemic might affect their business in future. The key output will be a resilience plan, which they can continue to test and evolve over time.

Barclays is aiming to help at least 10,000 businesses access the programme, which launches on 22nd June 2020. From each businesses start date, they will have two months to complete the course, which has about 15 hours of content. Any business can benefit – from a sole trader to a medium-sized enterprise.

The programme is free to access and open to all regardless of any existing relationship with Barclays. Registration is now live and all businesses need to do is register their interest.

White graphic of two hands holding a £ sign, on top of a blurred image of a banknote

Social enterprise leaders welcome additional government financial support

Together with our partners from across the social economy, we welcome the recent Government announcement  that £85million is being released in a significant step towards saving the sector, in response to our recent sector campaigning for urgent intervention.

Over 1,000 businesses, including The Co-operative Group, have signed a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging him to act to protect the UK’s social enterprises. Research shows that, without action, half of the sector could run out of money by June – putting one million jobs at risk, including many held by society’s most vulnerable people.

At the daily briefing on 20th May, Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced that the Government will be unlocking £150million from dormant bank and building society accounts to help charities, social enterprises and vulnerable individuals during the coronavirus outbreak.

This includes:

  • £45million to allow better access to investment, including emergency loans for charities, social enterprises facing cash-flow problems and disruption to their trading following the coronavirus outbreak
  • £30million for blended finance packages through the Access Foundation, to support social enterprises helping people in vulnerable circumstances, up to £10million of which will be made available for emergency support through social lenders.
  • £10million to help organisations which support unemployed, disadvantaged young people into work. The Emergency Levelling Up Youth Fund will support young people from the hardest hit communities and the existing Development and Impact grants programme will be expanded to rapidly increase youth employment provisions.

Social enterprises are the first responders to hard-hit communities recovering, pivoting to deliver the most urgent social need at this timeThis announcement comes just in time to support  these organisations, and will make a huge difference to those who receive it. However, there is more still to do to deliver the full package needed to ensure the UK’s most valuable organisations survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Along with our partners, we have outlined four clear policies that are the quickest and most effective ways to save the sector, and we continue to push for their delivery. 

Commenting on the announcement, Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said:

“We are pleased to see that our collective efforts and campaigning as a social enterprise sector are at last being rewarded. It’s great that the government has listened, and we now have some finance measures that will help social enterprises survive and do what they do best – helping to build back a better economy and society for the future.

“We see this as the first step in the Government recognising the vital importance of supporting the sector to survive this crisis.”

Mark Norbury, Chief Executive of UnLtd said:  We are pleased to see the government recognising the crucial role that social entrepreneurs play in sustaining our communities. This financial package is a welcome move to boost a sector that contributes £60bn to the UK economy and works for and by the most vulnerable in society. There is still more to needed to ensure social entrepreneurs are able to make it through this pandemic and we look forward to further steps from the Chancellor. 

To find out more about the measures announced, visit the Gov.UK website.

Two pairs of feet on a pavement with text 'passion led us here'

Fully funded social enterprise start-up support webinars

Do you have a business idea that could help people or the environment?

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is offering four fully funded webinars, which will give you the tools you need to start your social enterprise. Social entrepreneurs across the Heart of the South West area (Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay) are invited to register, but they are particularly welcoming registrations from those based in Somerset.

The dates, times and themes of the webinar sessions will be as follows:

Webinar 1 – Starting a Social Enterprise What is a social enterprise?

Thursday 28th May 2020 10:00 – 12:30

  • Key principles and examples
  • Getting started
  • Moving from concept to inception
  • Legal structures, e.g. CIC/Charity/Company

Webinar 2 – The Difference we Make

Thursday 11th June 2020 10:00 – 12:30

  • How to put social impact at the heart of your work
  • Measuring, managing and communicating social impact

Webinar 3 – Show me the Money

Thursday 25th June 2020 10:00 – 12:30

  • Finance and funding for social enterprises
  • What makes a good pitch for funding?

Webinar 4 – Business Planning and Delivery

Wednesday 8th July 2020 10:00 – 12:30

  • Resilience
  • Remote working
  • Selling goods or services
  • Online marketing
  • Cashflow
  • Business planning

Enhance Social Enterprise programme logo

Attend all four webinars to access free one-to-one calls with an expert adviser.

Find out more and register for the sessions here.

***To be eligible you must live in the Heart of the South West area of Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. The Enhance Social Enterprise Programme especially welcome registrations from Somerset-based social entrepreneurs.***

Lifesaver ring

Calling on Government to #SaveOurSocents

We are working with partners in the social economy to call on the Government to make some small changes to the way it is currently distributing business support, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the UK’s 100,000 social enterprises, co-operatives and community businesses.

We realise that many social enterprises have been falling through the cracks of Government support and are unable to access the necessary grants and loans to keep their businesses afloat. We are urging the Government to act now to ensure social enterprises are supported to get through this crisis, which we believe will increase the chance of a quick, fair and inclusive recovery from this lockdown.

We have written a letter to the Chancellor to outline a four-point action plan to ensure social enterprises receive appropriate support:

  1. Extending existing business grants to include social enterprises;
  2. Changing the delivery of loan finance to work for social enterprises;
  3. Opening up emergency financing for public services to social enterprises delivering services on behalf of the state;
  4. Providing business support so that social enterprises can use any funds they do receive effectively to transition their business.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said “Social enterprises are part of the glue that holds our society together. They will now be needed more than ever to help rebuild a more resilient economy moving forwards. To not invest in them now risks huge holes in getting back to normal and will leave the most vulnerable without the support that they so desperately need.

How you can help

We are calling on our network and the wider social enterprise community to back our call to the Government for urgent support. Please complete the below short form to add your support to our letter to the Chancellor.


Click here to open the form in a new window.

Health Devolution Commission

Sharing social enterprise perspectives with the Health Devolution Commission

We are pleased to be supporting the Health Devolution Commission; a piece of thought leadership work in which five former health ministers (along with other senior figures from the health and social care world) are holding an independent cross party inquiry into the value and accountability of devolved health systems.

Health devolution is seen as one approach to place-based health service reform that has the potential to integrate not just disparate services within the NHS, and NHS and social care services in a locality, but to bring together in a combined strategy and structure all of the services and systems within a community that have an impact upon the health of a local population. Therefore, it may provide the means to better meet their health and care needs.

To support the engagement of social enterprise providers in the Commission, we are facilitating opportunities for our social enterprise network to share evidence. We hosted an online discussion group, which provided useful and interesting insights:

  1. Social enterprises (SEs) have freedoms and flexibility that statutory providers don’t, so they can be more agile and responsive to local needs in devolved areas. This feature is vital to the success of health devolution so SEs need to be fully engaged as partners in devolved structures. At present SEs are not even at the table – to their own detriment but also to the detriment of health devolution itself.
  2. The process of health devolution should include design principles of co-production and co-design in the shaping of the devolved system. This includes providers collaborating together to deliver better services locally; and commissioners avoiding using their devolved freedoms and powers to unnecessarily create new organisations and thereby undermining existing social enterprise providers.
  3. Health devolution must embrace community health improvement, particularly improving housing quality, which can be a major driver of physical ill-health and lead to mental ill-health as well.
  4. There is a chasm at national and local levels between health policy and strategies on the one hand and economic development policy and strategy on the other hand. The social enterprise organisational form embraces organisations in both spheres, so SE networks could play a useful role in promoting a ‘health and prosperity’ way of thinking to move forward from the existing siloed ‘treatment’ and ‘integration’ paradigms hat currently underpin most health thinking.
  5. The post Covid-19 exit strategy needs to avoid a ‘return to normal’ approach, and take it as an opportunity to re-shape policy and strategy around the ‘health and prosperity’ paradigm that could be delivered in part through the implementation of a comprehensive approach to health devolution.

Thanks to those who took part in the focus group. Further contributions are welcomed by the Commission – you can find out more and share your views at https://healthdevolution.org.uk/our-work.

Charity Bank: a bank for good

Social Investors Respond to COVID-19

Social investors realise that this will be a challenging time for the charities and social enterprises they work with, many of whom work with the most vulnerable people

Along with other social investors, Charity Bank has issued a joint statement on the COVID-19 outbreak:

Social Investors Respond to COVID-19: our support & commitment

We want to reassure all of the organisations we invest in that we will support you and be as flexible as possible in the coming months. We are actively working together on how we can adapt existing schemes and funds. We are also working with government and other funders to establish new programmes that may provide additional help. We recognise that grants and business support will be at least as important as social investment.

The most important message is to get in touch with your social investor if that hasn’t happened already:

  • if you have investment from one of us and think you may need support or flexibility, please get in touch; we will do our best to help
  • if you might need investment to help you through difficult trading, please speak to us

We have created a dedicated page on Good Finance which will be updated regularly with any new information (including on any emergency funding sources) as well as via our social media channels.


Architectural Heritage Fund
Arts & Culture Finance by NESTA
Big Issue Invest
Big Society Capital
CAF Venturesome
Charity Bank
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
Key Fund
NatWest Social & Community Capital
Northstar Ventures
Social and Sustainable Capital
Social Investment Business
Social Investment Scotland


RSA logo

Fast track RSA membership for accredited social enterprises

The RSA is offering all social enterprises currently accredited by Social Enterprise Mark CIC a fast track membership to become RSA Fellows. Social Enterprise Mark CIC’s partnership with the RSA has been created to foster collaboration between our two networks and bring about a future in which everyone is able to participate.

For 260 years, the RSA has been at the forefront of social change. Today, it is a community of over 30,000 proactive problem-solvers from around the world uniting people and ideas to resolve the challenges of our time.

Being a Fellow is about supporting the mission of the RSA, but also gives you access to several opportunities that help you connect with like-minded people. You can find out more about how to get involved as a Fellow here, but some highlights include:

  • RSA Events: all events are completely free to Fellows.
  • RSA Research: access the RSA’s current research projects, such as the Future of Work Centre.
  • Project Support: the RSA regularly supports Fellows and their projects through Catalyst grants.
  • RSA Get Involved: there are a huge number of ways for Fellows to get involved with the RSA.
  • RSA Coffeehouse: a number of spaces are available to hire at RSA House.

Join the RSA

Joining is simple: all you need to do is complete a short application form and answer three questions about why you would like to join the RSA.

For social enterprises that are accredited by Social Enterprise Mark CIC, the £75 registration fee is waived and there is no need to submit referee details.

Please get in touch with Joseph Menezes if you would like to join the RSA and help create a better future for all.

Social Entrepreneur Index logo

UK Social Entrepreneur Index returns for a second year

Nominations are now open for the 2020 UK Social Entrepreneur Index, which returns for a second year after celebrating the success of 29 of the UK’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs and a further ten ‘ones to watch’ in 2019.

The Index is a celebration of entrepreneurs running businesses with social purposes, with the aim of providing recognition whilst also acting as a benchmark for good practice to inspire the next generation. It delivers inspiring content through a digital campaign and an overall celebration event by shining the spotlight on the UK’s most purpose driven entrepreneurs and their businesses.

Social Entrepreneurs Index open for nominations

The Social Entrepreneur Index campaign, run by UMi, recognises and celebrates the passionate, driven and innovative people behind some of the best socially-aimed businesses in the UK. Throughout the campaign, experienced UK ambassadors and supporters will help promote social entrepreneurship and work with UMi to identify future role models to be recognised in the online index.

Nicki Clark, Chief Executive of UMi, explained: “For over a decade, UMi has been celebrating and inspiring entrepreneurship across the UK. We believe really strongly that by being a great business we can do great things that make a positive difference to other businesses and people’s lives.

“It’s fantastic to see the growing number of entrepreneurs that have a strong social purpose to their business from the outset.

“We know these trailblazing entrepreneurs don’t often find time to reflect on their success beyond their annual impact report, so we wanted to offer the opportunity to celebrate while gaining additional exposure for their work, as well as further connections and support.”

Claudine AdeyemiCommenting on her inclusion in the 2019 Index as one of the ‘Ten of the Best’, Claudine Adeyemi, Founder of Career Ear, said: “Being included in the list and the events is really amazing, because it’s kind of validating that there are other people that think this is an important message to get out to everyone; that you can do this, and that more businesses should be set up this way. That’s quite important for us.”

The Index has the support of eight ambassadors who were selected for being shining examples of how social entrepreneurs can make an impact on a local and international level. In addition to 2019’s supporter, Social Enterprise Mark CIC, the Index welcomes two new supporters for 2020 – Inspiring Women Changemakers and the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Eligible social entrepreneurs can work in any field and be tackling a social or environmental issue at any scale from local to international. Entrants will act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact, and the Index will be a celebration of social entrepreneurship across the UK. Nominations for are open now at www.socialentsindex.co.uk.

Students working at a desk

Influence the design of new postgraduate course in social enterprise

University of Westminster logoWe are excited to be supporting the University of Westminster as they develop new postgraduate courses specifically for the social enterprise sector. These courses will  be aimed at current staff of social enterprises as well as those looking to work in the sector.

The University value the input of the sector and invite you to join them at one of the events below to influence the development/design of the course to ensure it meets market needs:

  • Tuesday 28th January in London – A round-table event hosted by the University and Social Enterprise Mark CIC , sharing news from the sector and looking at the future requirements  in terms of skills and capabilities of the workforce. This event is aimed at Senior Leaders within the Social Enterprise sector and will be held at one of the central London campuses of University of Westminster, beginning with lunch at midday and running until 2.30pm.
  • Wednesday 12th February in Plymouth – a focus group hosted by Social Enterprise Mark CIC and University of Westminster to test out the ideas collected from the January event in terms of possible course content and to gain further feedback. All those who have an interest are invited to attend. The event will be held at Millfields Trust in Plymouth, beginning with lunch at midday and running until 2.30pm.

We hope you may be able to attend one of these events and look forward to seeing you there.

If you are unable to attend but have thoughts you would like to feed into the development process, please do get in touch.

Statistics from TUC and High Pay Centre research into how the shareholder first model is contributing to inequality

New research shows how shareholder first model contributes to inequality

New research by the TUC and the High Pay Centre shows the extent to which financial returns to shareholders are dramatically outpacing wages across the wider economy.

Between 2014 and 2018, shareholder returns grew almost 7 times faster than workers’ annual wages. If workers’ pay had risen at the same rate as shareholder returns, the average worker would now be over £9,500 better off.

Graph showing the rise of shareholder returns compared to wage growth

These findings demonstrate that the shareholder first approach to business is contributing to poverty, inequality and climate change, and strengthens the case for reforming business so that it serves all stakeholders, not just lining the pockets of shareholders.

To join us in calling for change, get involved in the How do Companies Act campaign and sign the open letter to policymakers in the UK calling for an urgent review of our legal framework that currently prioritises shareholder profit over anything else.

Mural of man saying 'Act Now'

How do Companies Act?
The time for change is now

As we face an environmental and social crisis, we don’t have the time to slowly push for change, we must demand it, and demand it happens now. Now is the time to send a message to our politicians.

Social Value UK logoThrough the ‘How do Companies Act’ campaign, we are joining Social Value UK, Social Enterprise UK and other partners to lobby for an update to the Companies Act 2006 to ensure that environmental and societal impact is properly accounted for.

Below is an open letter to policymakers in the UK calling for an urgent review of our legal framework that currently prioritises shareholder profit over anything else.

Whether you are a social enterprise, public body, charity, or a traditional business, we hope you sign the letter. We believe it is in the interest of us all to re-design corporate governance and reporting to create a fairer economy and reduce environmental degradation.

This letter comes at a crucial time for the UK. There are rising levels of inequality, a climate emergency and soon to be released research by Oxfam, TUC and the High Pay Centre will reveal the shocking effects of a regulatory framework that prioritises shareholder primacy.

Creating a Companies Act fit for the 21st Century

Dear UK political leaders,

We are a group of organisations that are calling for a fundamental reform of the legal framework for UK businesses and investment. As business leaders and investors, we recognise that action must be taken to address the triple threat of climate change, social division and economic stagnation.

The current legal framework reinforces the status quo wherein (most) companies/businesses are legally bound to report and deliver maximum financial return to shareholders over and above anything else. We believe that certain reforms to the Companies Act should be considered to reflect changing attitudes in society, where most investors (including the general public) do not want to maximise profit if it means causing significant harm to people and the planet¹.

TUC and the High Pay Centre’s new research into the disproportionate levels of profit being extracted for shareholders of the UK’s largest companies confirms what we already know. The economy is rigged to maximise profits for shareholders at the expense of workers, society and the environment. Add to this a backdrop of rising inequality in society.

The ideology of profit maximising for shareholders at whatever the human and environmental cost has to be stopped. Research from Social Value UK has shown that only 15% of the public believe that financial return should be prioritised without concern for people and planet. The Government must get into the driving seat and change the laws that put shareholder profits first, to reform business so that it serves all stakeholders: society, the environment, workers and shareholders.

The most effective way to do this is to change the Companies Act. The principles of this Act date back to the Victorians. We need a modern Companies Act to reflect our 21st Century society.

Firstly, we must reword Section 172 of the Company’s Act which requires directors to put shareholder profits above all other interests. There is a growing movement, from academics such as the British Academy to business leaders, that believe we need to change this wording to put social, environment and employee interests on an equal footing with shareholder profit (interests).

Secondly, to hold businesses to account for their social and environmental impact we need to change Section 396, which states that a company’s accounts are required to ‘give a true and fair view of the state of affairs…[and] of the profit and loss of the company’. Social Value UK has proposed that the true and fair view is re-defined within the Act to reflect contemporary investor motivations which (obviously) includes financial return but also includes an interest in the effects their investment has on other stakeholders such as employees, communities and the environment.

Thirdly, we propose bringing back the requirement for businesses to state and act with a purpose that includes more than just maximising financial profit. Alternative forms of business, such as social enterprise and employee-owned businesses, are outperforming their peers. Workers are paid decent wages and these organisations do not extract maximum profits out of communities. They reinvest their profits to benefit employees, society and the environment. They have written a social or environmental mission or purpose into governing documents so that they can be held to account and contribute to a more inclusive economy. They make sure their stakeholders have the power to hold us to account to our mission – for example by having employees or other representatives on our board. These are lessons that all businesses can learn from.

Policymakers must be ambitious about the kind of economy we need. Tinkering around the edges is no longer enough. We need thorough and fundamental reform of the laws that govern our businesses if we want to tackle the challenges that we face as a society and as a planet.

We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from government and business about ‘social purpose’, ‘social value’ and regaining their ‘licence to operate’. Experience tells us that action speaks louder than words.

The time has come for a new approach to company law to reset our economy for the 21st Century.

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/investing-in-a-better-world-results-of-uk-survey-on-financing-the-sdgs

Sign the letter now to pledge your support

This letter has been drafted by Social Value UK in collaboration with Social Enterprise UK and Social Enterprise Mark CIC, with support from a range of partners and members representing business, social enterprise and charity sector.

Social Entrepreneur Index

Opportunities to support the Social Entrepreneur Index

Now more than ever is a time for social entrepreneurs to celebrate. Not only to recognise where they have come from, but to look to the future and inspire and stimulate further growth across the sector. The Social Entrepreneur Index explores and celebrates the UK’s social entrepreneur success stories and challenges more people to consider the social impact of their own actions.

The Index is engaging with a range of audiences and they are looking to develop relationships with a wide range of commercial and non-commercial partners who will support the work of the Index.

These partners will form a carefully selected group of organisations that provide genuine value to social entrepreneurs. The index engages a wide audience including aspiring and start-up social entrepreneurs; established social entrepreneurs who act as beacons to inspire others; ambassadors who are leading lights in the sector; and individuals who are not currently involved with the sector, but may be interested in philanthropic investments or even starting their own social enterprise.

For more information and to get involved, contact Neina Sheldon.

Building Social Value logo

Social value support package for social enterprises

Organisations with a well communicated social purpose build stronger relationships – with employees, clients, funders and investors, suppliers and the wider community alike. Building social value builds your bottom line.

Inspiring Women Changemakers logoWe are excited to be partnering with Inspiring Women Changemakers (IWC) to offer ten eligible UK-based social enterprises a package of support to identify, build and measure your social value – and then gain the accreditation to rubber stamp your commitment to recognised standards of good practice.

From just £300* you can access the Building Social Value programme to help you identify, build & measure your social value, plus a one hour coaching call, as well as the Aspiring Social Enterprise Mark or Social Enterprise Mark accreditation.*

Simply complete the form on the IWC website to submit your interest. This is a limited offer – there are only ten packages available, so be quick!

*Cost dependent on level of accreditation and size of company

**Subject to assessment against eligibility criteria

Expert Impact logo

Renowned business people available to mentor social entrepreneurs

Do you ever wish you knew someone really experienced in business to talk over a tricky decision you have to make that will affect the future of your social enterprise?

Expert Impact matches social entrepreneurs with successful business founders for free mentoring and business advice through their Human Lending Library.

The experts include the founders of Carphone Warehouse, Mumsnet and Pret a Manger, but there are many more from most business sectors, including finance and tech.

Expert Impact recently spoke to one of their alumni four years on from her Human Lending Library session to see how it had impacted her organisation. Read what happened after Charly Young from The Girls Network met successful haircare empire founder John Frieda.

Take a look at the Experts to see if there is someone you would benefit from speaking with, browse the FAQs for further information, or apply here.

Lady being interviewed in front of camera

True Leaders film project

True Leaders; A film project exploring authenticity and ethics in leadership

Tim SegallerTim Segaller is a leadership coach and mindfulness trainer, who recently ran a workshop at the Social Enterprise Mark CIC Conference on resilient leadership in social enterprise. He is currently making a short film exploring authenticity and ethics in leadership, and is looking for subjects – highly effective leaders who are inspired by this theme to share their experience and wisdom.

Tim would like to interview leaders in a range of settings (private, public and third sector) who are naturally drawn to the concepts of ‘authenticity’ and ‘ethics’ in leadership, as being vital responses to our current social and environmental challenges. In a nutshell, this is about leadership that’s deeply rooted in self-awareness, the courage to stay true to oneself and one’s values, and the ethical imperatives of making decisions that serve the best interests of others and wider society.

Tim will be selecting subjects on a wide range of criteria. If you are chosen as a subject, you’ll be featuring in a film that will hopefully add to collective wisdom about authenticity and ethics in leadership, and generate media attention in the process. In addition, he will provide you with your individual filmed interview to use as you wish (e.g. to show on your own website).

For more detailed information and to apply to be a film subject, go to: https://www.enlivenedminds.com/trueleaders

Lightbulb in thought bubble on blackboard

Tender opportunity for social economy research in Coventry

The City of Coventry has been invited to submit a proposal to the Local Access Programme, a new fund created by ACCESS – The Foundation for Social Investment and Big Society Capital, to take a place based approach to transforming the social economy through blended finance.

Coventry is one of only 12 places invited to take part in a competitive process, where 5 places will be offered a share of £33m of blended finance to develop a strong social economy.

Coventry Social Enterprise CityThe bid is being developed by Coventry Social Enterprise City Partnership; an informal body made up of Coventry City Council, Coventry University Social Enterprisesectoral support agencies, social enterprise and charity leaders and 2 universities, including Coventry University Social Enterprise. They are now inviting tenders for a research exercise into market opportunities for the social economy in Coventry where sustainable business models might be developed which build the sustainability of charities and social enterprises.

The Brief

The Partnership requires a specialist consultant with the expertise to identify social economy market opportunities. They expect this work will consist of:

  • Undertaking research and analysis of potential market opportunities in Coventry and surrounding areas which have the potential of being delivered by the social economy
  • Engage with relevant stakeholders to understand the local context and direction of travel
  • Presenting to the partnership conclusions in the form of presentation and report

Early discussions have highlighted the following areas may be useful areas to explore:

  • Private Sector (increasing the value of spend by the private sector with social economy organisations)
  • Homelessness & Housing Services
  • City of Culture 2021
  • Young People


A maximum of £10,000 inc expenses

Selection Criteria

  • Excellent track record in research
  • Strong end evidenced understanding of the Social Economy (ideally in Coventry)
  • Ability to identify, quantify and articulate local market opportunities for social economy organisations
  • Willingness to work and consult with key partners and stakeholders
  • Value for money

How to Quote

Please provide a fully costed proposal which sets out:

  • Your approach
  • An indicative work plan
  • Relevant experience
  • How you meet the criteria
  • 2 referees

Send your proposal to Keith Jeffrey, MD of CU Social Enterprise CIC by 5pm on Friday 28th June. You can contact Keith on 07557 425016.


June 28th              Submission Deadline

w/c July 8th          Interviews

Sept 20th               Submission of final report

Devon & Conwall Venus Awards winners

2019 Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards winners announced

Nearly 300 guests, finalists and sponsors from across the South West, attended the Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner of the Devon & Cornwall 2019 Venus Awards, held at the St Mellion resort in Cornwall on 29th March.

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional, and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member. The roll call of nominees, finalists, winners and sponsors is a testament to the growing appeal of the Venus Awards in Devon & Cornwall.

Hosts for the evening’s inspiring celebrations were Tara Howard, founder of Venus Awards, and Alexis Bowater of Bowater Communications.

Every sponsor emphasised the outstanding calibre of their category Finalists when presenting the winner with their “Venus” trophy.

Finalists of Influential Woman category at 2019 Venus Awards

Dr Emily Beaumont of Plymouth Marjon University, Veryan Skinner of Folk2Folk , Lucy Findlay and Alison Jordan of Pete’s Dragons

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC was delighted to receive the Influential Woman of the Year award.

“I’m amazed and delighted to win this award. The competition was really fierce and all the women shortlisted were so outstanding in their influencing talents too.

I would like to thank both Venus and Folk2Folk for this opportunity, which especially recognised the work that we have been doing internationally. It’s great for social enterprise to get recognition in a business award and that we can change the face of business on the world platform.”

The Venus Awards were founded in Dorset in 2009 by Tara Howard. Frustrated by the lack of recognition for working women, Tara established the awards to recognise and celebrate the achievements of working women. The event has since expanded to eight regions around the UK, with the 35th ceremony held at the inaugural London Awards at the Waldorf in December 2018.



Defra Year of Green Action Ambassadors

Michael Gove welcomes ambassadors for Year of Green Action

Defra Year of Green ActionEnvironment Secretary Michael Gove MP has welcomed a group of Ambassadors, who have pledged to champion and promote the Year of Green Action; a year-long drive to help everyone get involved in projects that support nature.

The Ambassadors include UN Patron of the Oceans and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh, environmentalist David de Rothschild, TV presenter Jan Leeming, and our own Lucy Findlay.

On welcoming the new Ambassadors at a parliamentary reception, Michael Gove said:

Michael Gove welcomes Year of Green Action Ambassadors“The natural world is our greatest asset and we all have a responsibility and role to play in protecting it for generations to come.

These new ambassadors have shown tremendous passion in their drive for environmental protection and have been tenacious in their desire to raise awareness…I am delighted to have them on board to champion the Year of Green Action and inspire change.”

The Year of Green Action is a year-long initiative to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the environment. It provides a focal point for organisations, individuals, communities and businesses to learn more about their environmental impact, take action to reduce it, and spread the word on environmental issues.

The newly-announced ambassadors are:

  • UN Patron of the Seas Lewis Pugh, an ocean advocate and endurance swimmer;
  • Adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, who sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 2009 on a entirely recyclable boat made using 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles;
  • TV presenter and newsreader Jan Leeming, a keen supporter of environmental issues, who has also spent time working on cheetah conservation projects in South Africa;
  • Ethical lifestyle blogger Besma Whayeb;
  • Sian Conway, Green & Eco Influencer of the Year 2018;
  • Explorer, entomologist, zoologist and broadcaster George McGavin;
  • Professor Tim Jackson, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity;
  • Founded of Earth Changers sustainable travel company Vicky Smith;
  • Blogger and social influencer Izzy McLeod; and
  • Lucy Findlay MBE, Founder of Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh said:

“I have been swimming for 32 years and over that period of time, I’ve seen our oceans change completely. That’s why I am delighted to support the Year of Green Action and help share the importance of protecting our oceans and tackling plastic pollution.

We need urgent action. Our greatest hope is that there are 66 million people in the United Kingdom. Any problem, however colossal, becomes manageable when divided by 66 million. If we all play our part, we can fix this.

The Year of Green Action is a leading pledge from the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, an ambitious blueprint to improve the environment within a generation.

Since its launch in January, the government has outlined ambitious plans to overhaul the waste system and transform household recycling, pledged support for charity Step Up to Serve’s #iwillfornature campaign, and set out plans to protect some of the country’s rarest and most threatened fungi.

Social Entrepreneur Index

Nominations open for UK Social Entrepreneur Index

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is pleased to be supporting the UK Social Entrepreneur Index , a BQ campaign sponsored by UBS, designed to celebrate those entrepreneurs doing things a little differently to make our world a better place.

The UK Social Entrepreneur Index is a celebration of entrepreneurs running businesses with social purposes, with the aim of providing recognition whilst also acting as a benchmark for good practice to inspire the next generation. The index delivers inspiring content through a digital campaign and a series of events and debates across the UK by shining the spotlight on the UK’s most purpose driven entrepreneurs and their businesses.

Eligible social entrepreneurs will work in any field and be tackling a social or environmental issue at any scale from local to international. Entrants will act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact, and the Index will be a celebration of social entrepreneurship across the UK.

Social Entrepreneur Index

Nominations for the inaugural UK Social Entrepreneur Index sponsored by UBS are open now. Submit your nomination at www.socialentsindex.co.uk.

NUS Placements for Good logo

NUS seeking partner organisations to offer summer placements

Do you want to be part of a new and exciting pilot programme? Be part of the National Union of Students’ new programme – Placements for Good – and work with university level students and increase capacity to progress sustainability.

The NUS is currently seeking organisations and businesses who want to empower students from all backgrounds to innovate and progress sustainability through meaningful work placements. Join a network of organisations working to enhance partnership working with universities whilst exploring potential to make a positive impact.

In return, the NUS will:

  • Take away the hassle of recruitment and ensure you are partnered with talented and highly motivated students
  • Support you and your placement student before (with pre-placement training), during and after the placement to make this a valuable opportunity for all
  • Work with you to design a programme of work that supports your organisation’s core business as well as increasing your capacity to progress the sustainability (environmental and ethical) impacts of your work

In 2019, there are a limited number of universities and colleges taking part in the South, South West and South Wales. During this pilot year, placement partnerships are only open to students from participating institutions to ensure we can provide high quality support and development opportunities.

For more information or to discuss this further, get in touch with Meg Baker – Senior Project Officer, Education for Sustainable Development. To register, please visit: http://forgood.nus.org.uk/placements

Bloom procurement services

Opening up public sector procurement to social enterprises

Get your organisation put forward for inclusion on quotation and tender shortlists by UK Public Sector buyers.

Bloom procurement servicesBloom Procurement Services has a different approach to professional services procurement; they specialise in bringing together a community of buyers and suppliers to help the public sector buy professional services better. They are transforming procurement by opening up the way it’s done, giving the best choice for buyers and more business opportunities for suppliers, big or small.

As part of this, Bloom is seeking to promote and support social enterprises to supply professional services into the public sector. In a nutshell, public sector organisations come to Bloom with their requirements and Bloom sources and accredits suppliers on their behalf.

This case study provides an illustration of how Bloom is already working with the Third Sector to promote their services.

They deal with over 230 different public sector bodies and have successfully supported the delivery of over 2,000 projects since their establishment in 2012. They offer a well-established sourcing solution; for example, Bloom provides the only Department of Education recommended professional services sourcing solution for schools and academies. Bloom has also been appointed by Crown Commercial Services, the National Procurement Service for Wales and the North East Purchasing Organisation to source suppliers on behalf of the public sector.

Working with Bloom is free to the supplier, as their management fees are included within the overall price that customers pay.

Interested organisations need to register on Bloom’s e-Sourcing platform Provide 2.0. Registration is free and simple, based on a self-certification of the organisation’s capabilities.

Bloom contact detailsJo Parkes-Newton and Chris Tuart at Bloom are working to grow and co-ordinate their existing Third Sector supply Chain. They are available to help you complete the registration process.


Semi-Finalists announced for Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards

Last week, Plymouth Gin hosted 100 applicants, guests and sponsors at their venue, for the announcement of the names of those progressing to the Semi-Finalist stage of the 2019 Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards.

The eighty five successful Semi-Finalists will now go through to the next stage of the judging process, and the finalists will be announced on 8th February.  The Awards will culminate in a glamorous Ceremony and Gala Dinner on 29th March.

Venus Devon & Cornwall Awards semi-finalist badgeLucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC was shortlisted in the Influential Woman of the Year category, along with Dr Emily Beaumont of Social Enterprise Mark holder Plymouth Marjon University.

Lucy is delighted to be shortlisted for the awards again this year, after being a finalist in two categories in 2018. “The competition is fierce and it’s brilliant to be recognised as a semi-finalist in the Influential Woman category. The semi-finalists in this category all demonstrate that women are leading the way and making a difference at local, national and international levels!

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as The Working Womens Oscars – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member. To provide extra help for our nominees and other working women, the Venus movement has recently launched The Venus Business School, an exciting new initiative offering invaluable support for female entrepreneurs and working women in the areas of confidence, communication, leadership and stress/time management.

Venus Awards Devon & Cornwall is now in its 6th year, and the response remains consistently strong with more than 1,100 nominations and 340 applications. The Devon & Cornwall participants are competing in 15 categories, including Woman in Property/Construction, Small Business of the Year, Inspirational Woman in STEMM and Business Mother of the Year.

This year’s Charity Sponsors are the Devon Air Ambulance and Cornwall Air Ambulance  The aim of Devon Air Ambulance is to help save ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances: parents, partners, children. Nobody chooses to have an emergency, but thanks to the crucial support of the Devon community, they can be there when it matters most. Cornwall Air Ambulance flies more than 700 missions every year bringing vital emergency medical treatment in minutes to patients across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It does not receive any government support for these missions and relies on the generosity of its supporters.

Brand preview 2019

In a year of uncertainty,
it’s time for clarity

As we start a new year, there are undoubtedly both challenges and opportunities ahead for social enterprises. Whatever the next 12 months brings for the UK economy, it is likely to be influenced by factors beyond your control. What you can control is how you respond.

Jonathan AlderIn an atmosphere of confusion and doubt, the ability to communicate clearly will help you to stand out. Jonathan Alder of brand agency Alder and Alder has created a free brand preview for social enterprises, which shares insights into the factors that will be most influential in helping you to do that. The aim is to help you communicate more efficiently and more effectively, by focusing on what’s most important.

The preview takes a look at the year ahead and explores the key brand issues that social enterprises need to consider, and suggestions for how to respond to these.

Click here to download the Brand Preview 2019.



We are supporting the
MadeAtUni campaign

Social enterprise universitiesWe are proud to accredit a number of UK universities as social enterprises, which are committed to enhancing the social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of their communities, society and the world around them.

We recognise the important contribution that universities can make to people, lives and communities across the UK, and therefore welcome the launch of the MadeAtUni campaign today, which celebrates the significant role that universities play in everyone’s day-to-day life.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “Alongside teaching, universities play a much wider role in being part of  local communities and making the world a better place. This is why we have awarded the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark to those that can prove it.

We are pleased to support the MadeAtUni campaign, which will hopefully highlight the amazing and varied contribution that universities make to society.”

For the launch, Universities UK has compiled the UK’s Best Breakthroughs List, which highlights 100 examples of universities are improving lives and enriching our world. From pioneering health discoveries and technological innovations to environmental initiatives, community projects and contributions to art, culture and sport, the list brings to life the many ways universities are improving our everyday lives.

We are delighted that several of our Mark holder universities feature in the list:

To find out more about how universities are offering solutions to local, regional and global challenges, visit the MadeAtUni website.

Living Wage Employer badge

It’s Living Wage Week 2018

Living Wage Week 2018

As an accredited Living Wage Employer, we are proud to support Living Wage Week (5th – 11th November), a UK-wide celebration of the campaign for a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living and the network of Living Wage employers.

The UK Living Wage rate has increased by 25p to £9, with the London Living Wage rising by 35p an hour to £10.55 an hour. The Living Wage rates are the only rates independently calculated based on what people need to live in the UK and London. The 2018 increases have been largely driven by higher transport costs, private rents and council tax feeding through to the basket of goods and services that underpin the rates.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “As the standard-bearer for the social enterprise sector, it is important to us to achieve independent recognition of our own business practices. This is why we are proud to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer, part of a network of 4,700+ businesses that have proven their commitment to paying a real living wage that meets the real cost of living.”

Tess Lanning, Director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “The Living Wage campaign is about tackling the rising problem of people paid less than they need to live. Responsible businesses know that the government minimum is not enough to live on, and today’s new Living Wage rates will provide a boost for hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the UK.

“Employers that pay the real Living Wage enable their workers to live a life of dignity, supporting them to pay off debts and meet the pressures of rising bills. We want to see local councils, universities, football clubs, bus companies and the other major public and private sector employers in every city commit to become real Living Wage employers. When they do, thousands of people get a pay rise, but other local employers also follow their lead. If more of these institutions step up, we can start to build true Living Wage places.”

For more information about Living Wage Week go to http://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-weekThe below video explains how you can become an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Become a Living Wage Employer from Living Wage Foundation on Vimeo.

School for Social Entrepreneurs

Funded courses for social enterprises in Devon and Somerset

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington is delighted to announce that applications are now open for two innovative new courses for social entrepreneurs in Devon and Somerset.

The courses are fully funded and provide a fantastic opportunity for social enterprises, charities, community businesses and third sector organisations that are looking to start or develop in the region.

Start Up Intensive Somerset 2018

School for Social Entrepreneurs Start Up Intensive course

This fully funded three-day start-up intensive programme is for anyone with a social enterprise idea and will give an introduction to starting and setting up a social business, giving the extra support needed to get started. Students will learn about business planning, identifying customers and start to think about measuring social impact. Day-long intensive study sessions with social enterprise witnesses, and expert workshop sessions will provide specialist tools and techniques.

“It’s been a really great process and we’ve come out of it, all of us, I think, very much stronger.” Sarah Milner-Symonds – The People’s Plot/Eat Festivals. SSE Fellow – Somerset.

Deadline for applications: 2nd September 2018

The course will be run in Taunton. Full programme details and application form can be found here.

Devon and Somerset Development Programme

School for Social Entrepreneurs Devon and Somerset courses

This is a fully funded 8-day programme, worth over £2,500 in development support. It is a course for established enterprises to delve deeper and spend time exploring their revenue generation options and strategy.

“The networking has been fantastic, worth its weight in gold… The action learning sets are fantastic, and we’re continuing with ours in Somerset now that the course is over.” Kris Scotting – Founder, Seed of Hope, SSE Fellow – Somerset.

Deadline for applications: 9th September 2018

The course will be run in Exeter. Full programme details and application form can be found here.

Jane Hutt appointed as Patron of Credit Unions of Wales

Leading Welsh politician wants to make Wales a ‘credit union nation’

Leading Welsh politician Jane Hutt AM is calling on people in Wales to join her in making the country a ‘credit union nation’.

Speaking after her appointment as Patron of Credit Unions of Wales alongside actor Michael Sheen, Ms Hutt said that credit unions were the ethical choice for all;

“The fact that credit unions offer an ethical and affordable way of saving and borrowing for all of us is key,” she said. “But they are also a way we can contribute to the whole community – including those who are experiencing hardship, debt and poverty. It is universal; we can all take part, we can all benefit and we can all help underpin this ethical borrowing and saving service for those who need it as an alternative to payday loans.”

She added that she would “work tirelessly to support the movement to make Wales a credit union nation.”

Ms Hutt joins existing Credit Unions of Wales Patron, actor Michael Sheen, and the appointment will see the two collaborate to raise awareness and membership of the country’s 18 not-for-profit, community savings and affordable loans providers across Wales.

Leanne Herberg, CEO of Cardiff and Vale Credit Union said: “Jane Hutt has been a long-standing supporter and member of Cardiff and Vale Credit Union and the wider movement across Wales and so we are delighted that she has agreed to take up this patronage.”

The sentiments were echoed by Nicola Field, manager of Bridgend Lifesavers Credit Union who added: “As the longest serving Labour minister in the UK and an outstanding advocate of social justice, Ms Hutt will be a tremendous asset to Credit Unions of Wales and we look forward to working with her.”

Credit Unions of Wales work to improve the financial wellbeing of those in their communities. Well-known for offering a more affordable alternative to high interest lenders, Credit Unions of Wales have forged strong links with more than 140 employers across Wales.

Organisations involved in the Payroll Partner scheme work to improve the financial wellbeing of staff by offering the opportunity to save or repay a loan with a credit union directly from their salary.

For further details about Credit Unions of Wales visit www.creditunionsofwales.co.uk.

Social UP project

Research report: design thinking for sustainable social enterprises

Innovative and high-impact solutions for social problems

Social UP research reportThe first phase of the Social UP project has been completed, and a research report is now available, which analyses the needs and challenges of social enterprises, presents relevant methods and tools of Design Thinking (DT) for increasing social impact, and considers ways to enhance creative problem-solving and innovation skills through DT-based online learning.

Findings are based on extensive quantitative and qualitative research and input across different stakeholders, in UK, Finland, Greece and Spain.

Social economies employ over 11 million people in the EU, accounting for 6% of total employment. The burgeoning interest in social entrepreneurship across Europe has been driven by the recognition of the role social enterprises can play in tackling societal challenges, austerity measures and ongoing withdrawal of public agencies from supplying social services in tandem with new and growing social needs.

According to the European Commission, social enterprises in Europe are expected to constitute a dynamic entrepreneurial movement encapsulating the drive for new business models that combine economic activity with social mission and the promotion of inclusive growth.

Still, survival and growth of social enterprises is hindered by several internal key constraints:

  • lack of viable business models;
  • high reliance on the public sector as a source of income;
  • lack of entrepreneurial spirit, skills and specialised advisory services.

The Social UP (Erasmus+ co-funded project) aims to improve sustainability and scalability of social enterprises to achieve their societal mission in a financially viable manner, by cultivating Design Thinking culture, adapted to their own needs. As a human-centered, experimental and interdisciplinary approach, Design Thinking offers social entrepreneurs opportunities to create innovative solutions rooted in people’s actual needs, and, as such, the possibility to unlock the real impact.

On the basis of the research findings, the project will now progress to design and develop the Design Thinking Field Guide for Social Enterprises, an online toolkit to support social enterpreneurs’ and wantrepreneurs’ knowledge and skills to use Design Thinking and increase their competitiveness and growth but also assist enterprise advisers and developers, vocational education trainers (VET) and Design Thinking experts to support social enterprises in the process.

Special thanks to all parties who have contributed to this research by sharing their experiences, expertise and knowledge, all taken into count in the the development of the learning material.

 Access the full report here

Executive summaries in Finnish, Greek, Spanish are available here

Find out more at the official website http://designthinking-socialup.eu

Like us on Facebook DesignThinkingSocialUP

Follow us on Twitter @DTSocialUP

Living Wage Employer badge

It’s Living Wage Week

As an accredited Living Wage Employer, we are proud to support Living Wage Week (5th – 11th November), a UK-wide celebration of the campaign for a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living and the network of Living Wage employers.

We welcome the increase in UK and London rates announced by the Living Wage Foundation this morning, and commit to paying this real Living Wage – independently calculated to meet the cost of living –  to all employees.

Living Wage Week

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “As a Living Wage Employer we proudly fly the flag for the Living Wage Week campaign to ensure that employees can actually live on what they earn, no matter where they live or how old they are.”

“To us at Social Enterprise Mark CIC, it’s important to get the proper recognition for this and we are pleased to be working with the Living Wage Foundation to highlight the need for transparent accreditation via our #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign.”

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “Year-on-year, we see organisations and businesses across the UK embracing the real Living Wage as they recognise that a fair day’s pay is not only the right thing so to but can improve the quality of staff’s work, reduce absenteeism and increase motivation and retention.”

“Today’s increase acknowledges that the cost of living continues to rise for workers everywhere and the leadership shown by businesses who welcome this is a cause for celebration during Living Wage Week, sending a positive message to the business community to show what others can achieve.”    

For more information about Living Wage Week go to http://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-week

Living Wage Week 2017 from Living Wage Foundation on Vimeo.

WISE100 launch

Lucy Findlay named among top women in social enterprise

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark CICWe were delighted to discover last week that Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, is included on the inaugural WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise 100) index, which recognises inspirational women in social enterprise.

A new initiative from NatWest SE100, the WISE100 was launched at a special event in London last week.  The index is the first of its kind, and aims to recognise the invaluable contribution of 100 of the most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation.

Responding to the news, Lucy said “I’m honoured to have been recognised as part of the first inspiring WISE100. Women are taking the lead in so many ways in the social enterprise world and it’s important that this is acknowledged and celebrated.”

Lucy was also delighted to be joined on the list by female leaders of several Social Enterprise Mark holders, including Julie Hawker from Cosmic, Amy and Ruth Anslow from hiSbe, and Kate Welch from Social Enterprise Acumen. More than 250 women were nominated for the index, with the final list selected by a panel of judges. The full list can be found here.

The social sector outperforms other sectors when it comes to gender equality; in the UK, over 40% of social enterprises are led by women, and more than half of all social enterprises have a majority female workforce*. In comparison, just 6% of FTSE100 companies have female leaders. The WISE100 initiative is therefore important because it will help to inspire other sectors to diversify their workforce, bringing benefits not just to women but to business in general.


* State of Social Enterprise 1027 report

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark

Have we reached the point of diminishing social return?

Lucy Findlay responds to the 2017 State of Social Enterprise Report

State of Social Enterprise 2017 - Social Enterprise UK

State of Social Enterprise 2017 – Social Enterprise UK

The 2017 State of Social Enterprise report was launched by Social Enterprise UK last week.  The findings around profitability got me thinking.  Apparently, larger social enterprises are more likely to make a profit; 72% of those with more than 100 employees, compared with 45% of those with less than 10.  I guess that this is not that surprising as economies of scale are achieved and therefore likely greater margins. Of course, 100 employees is still regarded an SME by government definitions.

Profitability of is only part of the story for social enterprises, and as this survey highlights, it’s impossible to report on the measurement of social impact and the ideal size of business to deliver to maximise this.  This is a perennial conundrum for the social enterprise sector.  When does the law of ‘diminishing social impact returns’ kick in?  Are local social enterprises better at delivering local services because they know the patch, and can they still do a good job when they upscale? That is, when do they start to demonstrate some of the negative characteristics we see in corporate delivery (e.g. lack of personal service, flexibility, understanding of local conditions etc)?

The need to scale up is also a challenge for social enterprises that wish to trade with the public and corporate sectors. To gain a place on the ‘preferred supplier register’ there is often a requirement to deliver a consistent service over a large area.  The report shows that there has been some progress in terms of consortia and replication, particularly in London, with 29% part of a consortium and 18% replicating their work.  But this remains a major barrier in terms of trading in today’s climate that sees big as being better.  What price for social value?

Another concern is the continuing high reliance on public sector for profitability, particularly for large social enterprises (although it has fallen from 57% to 51% since the last report). I highlighted this in a previous blog back in 2015.  In a climate where the public sector is still facing major cuts, diversification is key.  We need to spread our wings and think as laterally as possible, rather than just expecting commissioners to change.  Anecdotal evidence from our Mark holders shows that commissioners are becoming more risk averse, not less, with some services delivered by the social enterprise sector retreating back into the NHS for example or being delivered by a bigger player whether the service is better for patients or not.

All that being said, I was very encouraged to see that “almost four-fifths of social enterprises use their social enterprise status in marketing their products and services (37% to a great extent, 40% to some extent). Only 6% do not use it at all. This continues a pattern seen since 2011 when only 53% of social enterprises used their status Social Enterprise Markin their marketing in some way.”

It’s great to see that social enterprises are becoming louder and prouder about their USP and what better way to prove your social enterprise credentials that applying for the Social Enterprise Mark!


Helping consumers and businesses to do good business

Beyond the Badge campaign partnersWith research showing that public trust in business is declining, we have teamed up with other independent Standard Bodies that set and assess genuine and transparent standards that help consumers cut through the barrage of branding and use their purchasing power for good.

We are calling on consumers to go ‘Beyond the Badge’ and look out for credible independent labels as proof that a business is living up to its claims.

By supporting our #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign, consumers and businesses can stand up for:

  • a growing movement of businesses serious about making change for good and proud to prove it
  • the values and standards that are managed by an independent standards body with real expertise in their sector

We are proud to be working with a group of standard setting bodies that share common values and principles in our approach to accreditation. Each organisation is responsible for an independent accreditation/certification scheme. We are united by a common focus of setting and overseeing robust, credible and transparent standards for businesses. These cover a range of industries, from food and drink to construction! Click here to find out more about our campaign partners.

Beyond the Badge pledge

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*We will add you to our supporters mailing list, which we send regular updates to about our network of accredited social enterprises and our accreditation services. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email.


NatWest WISE100 highlights women’s leading role in social enterprise sector

Nominations for the first NatWest WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise) have recently opened to recognise 100 leading women in social enterprise. Created by the NatWest SE100 Index, the WISE100 highlights the leading role of women in the social enterprise sector.

The social enterprise sector outperforms other sectors when it comes to gender equality, with 40% of social enterprises led by women, compared with just 6% of the companies on the FTSE1001. While more work remains to be done to create true gender equality in business, it’s encouraging that the social enterprise sector is leading in this respect. The WISE100 will recognise the valuable contribution women make to the social enterprise sector and will highlight their achievements to the social enterprise and wider business community.

The WISE100 list is open to anyone who wishes to nominate one or more women working in the social enterprise sector. Nominations can be made via the NatWest WISE100 website. It is also possible to self nominate and nominations are free to place. Nominations close on 31 August 2017.

Entries will be judged on the merit of the nomination and will address how inspiring and impactful the nominee is. An all-female judging panel will agree a final WISE100 List and those selected will be invited to a celebration of their achievements in London in October.

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, Business Banking at NatWest, commented:  “The WISE100 will be the first time the role of women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation will be formally recognised in such a way.  The list, a new initiative from the NatWestSE100, will recognise the crucial role women play in the social enterprise sector, as well as aiming to inspire other sectors to diversify their workforce, bringing benefits to women and the business community at large.”


1.  State of the Social Enterprise Report 2015, Social Enterprise UK.

Social UP project

What challenges do social enterprises face?

As part of the Social UP project, which aims to improve the sustainability, social impact and scalability of social enterprises, to enable them to achieve their societal mission in a financially viable manner, we are inviting you to participate in a questionnaire to identify the key needs and challenges of social enterprises, how these challenges are addressed, and to investigate how the challenges could be addressed.

Responses will be used to develop an open access training material, to enhance competitiveness and profitability, and also to respond to the social mission of social enterprises. The training material, using principles of Design Thinking, will be aimed at social enterprises, advisers of social enterprises, vocational trainers, social partners and social enterprise associations.

There are 2 different questionnaires, dependent on your organisation:

Completing the questionnaire takes approximately 15 minutes. All information will be treated confidentially and no personal information will be disclosed or be otherwise used except for research purposes explained.

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits Design Thinking can offer and discover which tools can help your organisation?

We are offering a FREE ‘Design Thinking for Social Enterprises’ workshop for a limited number of participants. If interested, please leave your contact information at the end of questionnaire.

For further information, please contact Rachel Brown.

We appreciate your support in contributing towards the Social UP project!

NatWest SE100

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.

Growing consumer appetite for brands with social purpose

we-logo-colorUK consumers, especially the younger generation, would pay more for products/services with a clear social purpose, according to a recent report from communications agency WE.

The report, based on a a study of 2,000 UK consumers by YouGov, showed a growing consumer appetite for organisations that demonstrate a social purpose and how they are having a positive impact on society.

The key findings include:

  • UK consumers would pay on average 10% more for a product/service if they think it would have a positive impact on society
  • 40% of consumers already regard sustainability as important when making purchase decisions
  • The younger generation is more prepared than any other age groups to support ‘better’ products/services

SE_BRAND_APPROVED_RGBThis represents an opportunity for social sector organisations to reach a growing number of ‘socially-minded’ consumers by articulating and communicating their social purpose and the benefits they create for society and the environment.

By applying for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation, you can prove the positive impact your business creates, and promote your credentials as an independently guaranteed social enterprise, committed to trading for the good of people and planet.

Finance for Social Sector Organisations

Please click here to access the survey in a new window

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Response to Big Lottery Fund Consultation

We recently submitted a response to a public consultation from the Cabinet Office, which is seeking opinions on proposed new policy directions for the allocation of Big Lottery Funds in England, Isle of Man and UK-wide funding programmes.

Big Lottery Fund (BLF) receives 40% of the £1.8 billion ‘good causes’ money generated through the National Lottery each year. This amounts to around £700 million annually to improve lives throughout the UK. It is the single largest funder of UK civil society. Ministers issue all lottery distributors with policy directions, setting out the priorities they must take into account when distributing this money. This consultation is seeking views on the proposed new policy directions for BLF.

As the guardians of social enterprise standards, we feel strongly that organisations that have proven their commitment to creating social value should be given higher visibility in the policy direction priorities. Social enterprise is a form of business that creates lasting sustainability through its business approach, and is dedicated to maximising the social value derived from investment, above that of shareholder profit.  One suggestion we made in our response was that the Social Enterprise Mark could help identify these businesses, as proven and independently guaranteed social enterprises.

Below is a summary of the key messages contained in our response to the consultation.

BLF should not:

  • fund social entrepreneurs and social business that do not have:
    • clear social mission
    • an asset lock commitment
    • a restriction on profit distribution
  • fund projects that do not have a rigorous and realistic business plan, to provide long term sustainability
  • use valuable resources to prop up failing social investment initiatives

BLF should:

  • have a strong message about supporting social enterprises that can demonstrate true financial and long term sustainability – income generation by supported projects should be encouraged
  • support awardees to demonstrate, promote and market their whole social impact more widely than just for their own lottery funding
  • should accept earned and in kind income as match funding sources from the grant recipient itself
  • encourage as wide an impact as possible and give consideration to an international dimension, not limited to exchange of good practice but also wider commercial and partnership opportunities

We feel there is much scope for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation to be utilised in assessing requirements for the distribution of BLF funds.

The consultation is open until Friday 12th August. For more information and to respond, please visit the Cabinet Office website.

UK’s first in-depth Social Impact Survey launches today

Social ventures across the UK encouraged to offer experience and insight to maximise impact

A landmark Social Impact Survey, designed to uncover awareness and attitudes to impact measurement and maximise social performance among frontline social ventures, launches today across the UK.

The Buzzacott Social Impact Survey is the first ever in-depth survey of UK charities and social enterprises to establish what they are doing to measure their social impact and maximise their social performance, and what they think about the challenges and opportunities around impact measurement.

The initiative is being led by a consortium of organisations committed to building the capacity and impact of the social sector, including Buzzacott Chartered Accountants, The Good Economy Partnership and Matter&Co.

Eddie Finch, Charity Partner, Buzzacott, said: “This survey provides an important opportunity to engage with social enterprises and charities to help them maximise their impact and shape best practice from their perspective on the front line. Giving social enterprises and charities the chance to have their opinions heard is vital to overcoming barriers within the sector.”

Sarah Forster, CEO of The Good Economy Partnership, said: “We are keen to learn what value social ventures see in impact measurement and whether it is a practical help in managing your organisation.”

Tim West, CEO of Matter&Co, said: “To date, much of the debate around impact measurement has been dominated by investors and consultants, rather than frontline organisations. For many social ventures, impact measurement remains a real stumbling block; it can seem expensive, confusing and takes attention away from the real business of getting the social mission delivered. At the same time, understanding how you are doing – and how you can do better – is crucial for every mission-driven organisation.”

Results from the Buzzacott Social Impact Survey will be published in a special report and film, to share the learning and help improve the way in which social ventures are measuring and demonstrating social value. Questions and analysis will focus on how impact measurement supports organisations in delivering on their mission, exploring how well social ventures understand the concept, what information needs drive data collection, the tools they have used to do it, the level of resource they commit to it, how they verify their findings, the issues or barriers they have faced, and the changes they would like to see to current approaches.

The survey also asks about the value of impact information to their organisation both internally, in terms of operational and strategic decision-making, and externally, in terms of applying for funding or investment.

The survey will run for six weeks, closing on 19th September. Initial results will be shared at the Good Deals social investment conference in November, with a full report published in early 2017.

The survey is confidential and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Please click here to take part in the survey.

Social Enterprise

NatWest SE100 Business Awards 2016/17

SE100 AwardsWANTED: Bosses on a mission!

Hunt is on for UK’s most inspiring social enterprise leaders – as entries open for NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards 2016/17

A talent search with a difference got underway today to find the UK’s best social enterprise bosses. Thousands of charities, social enterprises and responsible businesses are being encouraged to nominate their most inspiring and effective leaders, in the annual NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards.

The search for leaders driving business success for a social purpose forms the brand new category of ‘Leadership Champion’ in this year’s SE100 Social Business Awards, which also celebrate star performers in six further categories – from ‘Growth’ to ‘Storytelling’.

Also new this year is the NatWest Customer Champion, which will see relationship managers across the bank nominate their own stars from the thousands of charity and social enterprise customers they support.

Mark Parsons, Head of Community Finance and Social Enterprise, NatWest said: “Social Businesses make a massive difference to communities across the UK, and it’s the inspiring people behind them which allows this to happen. We want to recognise their achievements and celebrate their success.”

Tim West, Director of Matter&Co and founder of the SE100 said: “This new leadership award is not about hero worship. It is about celebrating and learning from those people who demonstrate that special combination of energy, focus, resilience, business savvy and commitment to social change that drives their teams both to make money and make a difference. I’m really excited to see who will be on our shortlist.”

How to enter the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards

The NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards are open to all social ventures across the UK. To enter, organisations need to have completed their profile on the SE100 Index, including providing standard financial information and details on their social impact.

Once completed, organisations are automatically entered in to the Growth, Impact and Trailblazing Newcomer awards. The Resilience, Storyteller and Leadership awards require completed nomination forms, available to download here. The NatWest Customer award shortlist will be drawn up by the bank.

The deadline for nominations for the Resilience, Storyteller, Leadership and Customer awards is midnight on Sunday 25th September.  Organisations must sign up to the Index and complete their profile by the same deadline to be eligible for the 2016 NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards.

Shortlisted organisations will be announced at the Good Deals conference on November 14th and 15th, the UK’s leading Social Investment conference. All shortlisted organisations will be invited to attend this event for free to celebrate the success of the sector.

Visit https://se100.net/awards for further details on how to take part.


Working in partnership with Social Enterprise Mark holders

Iridescent IdeasWe are pleased to announce that Social Enterprise Mark CIC has been confirmed as a new partner of the Forerunner Prize, which was launched in May by Social Enterprise Mark holder Iridescent Ideas.

The Forerunner Prize is aimed at budding social entrepreneurs looking to do exciting things with technology. The winner will receive a a £5,000 prize package to help them develop a tech led social enterprise idea. The partnership with Social Enterprise Mark CIC will help the successful winner create a strong social enterprise. Our MD Lucy Findlay will also be part of the judging panel deciding on the winner.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC joins existing partners Francis Clark, Tribe Media, and fellow Social Enterprise Mark holder University of St Mark & St John.

Paul Read, Director of Iridescent Ideas said: “We are delighted that a prestigious company of internationally standing and credibility such as the Social Enterprise Mark CIC is backing The Forerunner Prize.”

“Their knowledge, networks and experience will be invaluable in developing this prize and supporting the successful applicant.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark said: “​Social Enterprise Mark CIC is excited to be supporting Iridescent Ideas with the Forerunner Prize, to promote social enterprise as a business solution to tackling social and/or environmental issues.”

“The Forerunner Prize will enable budding social entrepreneurs who have a tech-led solution to existing social challenges to develop their idea and have a positive impact on society.”

“Iridescent Ideas itself is an accredited social enterprise, awarded the Social Enterprise Mark – proof that it is committed to creating benefits for people and the planet.  As the guardians of credible standards for social enterprise, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Iridescent Ideas and other local organisations to provide specialist support and guidance to the award winner.”

The Forerunner Prize is open to applications until September 2nd 2016. For more information, and to apply, please visit the Forerunner Prize website.

Is Social Sector Data Driven? Or Data Driven Mad?

Those of us who run social enterprises and charities collect and use lots of data for all kinds of purposes. Many would argue there’s too much. Business experts tell us we could be sitting on a goldmine if only we could harness this amazing resource.  Yet the reality is that many are stumbling around in blizzards of data which is onerous and frustrating to collect and analyse, and often delivers information which isn’t meaningful, useful, or reliable for decision makers.

Social enterprise Data Orchard CIC has found there are social sector organisations, big and small, using data to do powerful and transformational things. These organisations say data is helping them be smarter, more effective, and more influential. More often though, social entrepreneurs and charity leaders admit that they know data is important and valuable, but they just don’t know how to make it work for their cause and their business. They are grappling with all kinds of data (e.g. from spreadsheets, databases, CRM systems, survey tools, web and social media analytics…plus other research and information sources.) Indeed, some still collect data on paper forms and keep them in filing cabinets.

“It’s difficult to make sense of the data. When we pull it all together it’s like comparing apples, oranges, and bananas”

“We spend so much time and energy collecting data to report to commissioners and funders we don’t have any capacity left to think about how data can shape our own future.”

“We collect lots of data but just haven’t got the skills or tools to analyse it. We’re data rich but information poor.”

The Data Evolution project is trying to find out where social enterprises are at on the data journey, what challenges are faced and what help they need?

They are asking social entrepreneurs to complete a very short (5 minutes) online survey. There is the chance to win £100 for your social enterprise and the opportunity to access a more detailed analysis of where your organisation stands with data.

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: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mission-led-business-review-call-for-evidence-opens-and-expert-panel-members-named


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 http://www.sentogether.net/


Social Enterprise

NatWest SE100 launches Social Business Club

Last night saw the launch of the NatWest SE100 Social Business Club, the new business support club offering insight, inspiration, expertise and peer learning for social enterprises on the NatWest SE100 Index.

SE100 Social Business ClubThe Club was launched at an evening event hosted by NatWest to announce this year’s Cabinet Office Social Investment Awards, which highlight the impact of social investment and celebrate UK’s world leading social investors and social enterprises.

Open to all social ventures signed up to the NatWest SE100 Index, the NatWest SE100 Social Business Club aims to help social businesses get the advice and resources they need to thrive and grow – from investment and leadership to HR and marketing.

It was born out of a desire to offer greater support to the community of more than 1,300 social ventures that has grown up over the years as the NatWest SE100 Index has developed.

The NatWest SE100 Social Business Club offers:

  • Free attendance at a series of SE100 Insight events held in different locations around the UK, to build capacity and share learning around being a better social enterprise
  • A rich stream of online written and video content focusing on social business management, including expert advice and case studies from the front line
  • Peer-to-peer comparisons of how your social venture is doing ¬– geographically and by market sector – in terms of both business and social performance
  • An invitation to apply for the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards, and to attend this year’s events celebration
  • A range of further benefits, including discounted conference tickets, discounted fees for NatWest Social & Community Capital loans, and free webinars from NatWest Mentor service to help you manage your social business

Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director of Business Banking, NatWest, said: “Running a social enterprise can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it can also be challenging and at times, lonely. We want to create a community to support the hundreds of social business owners who are members of the NatWest SE100. Our aim is to bring together like-minded social entrepreneurs to share their skills and experience and to get access to relevant events and information. We want them to share best practice and insights and to encourage and inspire one another.”

Tim West, CEO of Matter&Co, the communications agency that created the NatWest SE100 Index said: “Whether it’s motivating your team, finding finance to grow, developing a strong brand or measuring your impact – there are so many key aspects to building a great social business. The NatWest SE100 Social Business Club aims to help social ventures learn and grow together through a programme of inspiring but very practical events and content. It’s great that NatWest are once again putting their energy, commitment and business knowledge behind supporting UK social enterprise in this way.”

For more information on the NatWest Social Business Club and what it offers, please visit https://www.pioneerspost.com/business-school/20160504/natwest-and-se100-announce-social-business-club-partnership

National Apprenticeship Week 2016

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we are supporting the #PasstheTorch campaign.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC took on our first Apprentice in December. Lara Wylie, who joined the team as Customer Relations Assistant, is enrolled on a Level 2 Business and Administration Apprenticeship through City College Plymouth. On completion of the Level 2 qualification, Lara intends to enrol on the Level 3 Apprenticeship, with a long term view to study for a degree via the Open University.


The driving force of the Pass the Torch campaign is an Olympic-style torch which represents the passing on of Apprenticeship and Employer knowledge. The torch is making an appearance at a wide variety of business events from February to May. Employers are asked to pledge their support for apprenticeships and traineeships, showcasing their commitment to the government’s target to reach 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.

To pledge support you can:


Fusion21Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 is also supporting the campaign, and has funded 144 Apprenticeships since 2014 – delivering £268,665 in social value, whilst supporting young people to learn a life-long trade.

The organisation has been helping to tackle the skills shortage in the construction industry, by funding a variety of apprenticeships in professions including joinery; bricklaying; plastering; painting and electrics. These initiatives provide young people with the chance to build a career by learning new skills and qualifications – which often lead to securing sustainable employment opportunities.

GeorgeEighteen-year old George Buckley from Halewood in Liverpool has excelled in a bricklaying apprenticeship, thanks to support and funding received from Fusion21. After nearly two years of hands-on work experience and studying at The City of Liverpool College, George is nearing the end of the scheme and is on track to receive a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 2. George’s apprenticeship has enabled him to mix the technical skills he has learnt in the classroom, with on-the-job experience gained from working for home builder and urban regeneration partner, Countryside.

George said: “I didn’t really enjoy school – I wanted to be out in the fresh air, earning money and learning skills I could turn into a career. That’s why an apprenticeship was the best option for me. My uncle has had a fantastic career as a bricklayer, and he inspired me to follow the same path.

 “I’ve worked really hard to develop my skills – and achieved third place in the SkillBuild Regional Heat Competition 2015, in the bricklaying category. SkillBuild is the largest multi-trade competition in the country, so it was a great indication of the progress I was making. This apprenticeship has been a fantastic stepping stone for me,” adds George – “each day is a fresh challenge – and I can confidently work on my own without supervision.”

Ian McDonough, Community Regeneration Manager at Fusion21, said: “George has really applied himself during his apprenticeship – and we’re really proud of what he has achieved.

“Apprenticeships can change lives – and it’s really important that these opportunities exist to develop new talent in the construction sector and other industries.”



National Apprenticeship Week 2016 runs from Monday 14th – Friday 18th March, and celebrates apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

To find out more about the National Apprenticeship Service visit www.apprenticeships.gov.uk.

Have you applied for funding from grant-making trusts and foundations?

If you have applied for, or received funding from grant-making trusts and foundations, Foundational Thinking invite you to complete their short survey, based on emerging themes from a literature review of the practice of grant-making trusts and foundation.

Foundational Thinking is a Flip Finance project set up to explore the ways in which grant-making trusts and foundations can better serve the needs of the organisations they support and, ultimately, their mission. The organisation has embarked upon an independent, comprehensive and critical overview of the evidence of the practices of grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK, and is keen to support this with a snapshot of the perspective from organisations which receive funding from grant-makers.

It is therefore on the look-out for charities, community group, social enterprises and other organisations who have applied for, or received, funding from grant-making trusts and foundations to complete a short survey as part of its research. The questions are based on emerging themes from our review of the evidence.

Please click here to access the survey.

NatWest SE100

UK social businesses pump £1.3 billion profits back into society

New figures released this week by the NatWest SE100 index highlight impressive growth from the UK’s social enterprise sector this year, with an average growth in turnover of 80%.

Now in its sixth year, this unique index tracks the growth and performance of the UK’s social enterprises. In 2015, the Index collected data from 1, 244 social ventures, and discovered that they had collectively pumped £1.3 billion of profits back into society.

The latest data report shows that the social enterprise sector continues to grow at an impressive rate – last year, the average growth in turnover was 72%, and this year, the figure has risen to 80%. The Index’s top 100 fastest growers achieved a staggering 951% growth, bringing the average growth rate over the past three years to 824%. These figures far outstrip average sales growth posted by Britain’s top 100 private companies, who managed an average growth figure of 65% over the past three years.


Although there are some relative giants on the SE100 Index, posting turnovers in the tens of millions, the median turnover this year is £144,000, climbing from £134, 000 the previous year.

On the 10th anniversary of the Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs), the index also highlights the success of the CIC as a legal structure for social ventures, with 57% of enterprises on the index registered as CICs. CICs registered on the index are generally smaller and faster growing than other types of enterprise. Today, 92% of CICs on the Index have a turnover of £1million or less, but have achieved an average growth of 102%.

The report signifies that despite continuing austerity in the UK, 2015 was still an exciting year for the UK’s social enterprise movement.  The sector continues to be dynamic and has a big collective impact on both society and the UK economy.

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said: “Social enterprises are the lifeblood of communities up and down the country. They tackle social challenges while contributing to economic growth, making them hugely popular with both consumers and investors. The SE100 Index is a benchmark which encourages innovation in the sector so that their great work in building a compassionate society can continue long into the future.”

Mark Parsons, Head of Community Finance and Social Enterprise, NatWest, said: “This report shows that social enterprises across the country are generating significant profits whilst having a powerful impact on their communities. The 80% average growth in turnover in the sector is hugely impressive, while the performance of the top 100 in the Index shows that there are some incredible high-growth social businesses out there – transforming economies and lives at the same time.  NatWest has been a proud supporter of the UK social enterprise sector over the past 20 years.  For some growing social enterprises, finance can still be a barrier to growth – but alternative financing options, such as our Social & Community Capital charity, can help them further their ambitions.”

The NatWest SE100 Index is open to any organisation delivering social, environmental or economic change. It is created by Matter&Co in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland and RBS Inspiring Enterprise, with the support of Buzzacott and the Social Value UK. For more information visit se100.net.

To view the NatWest SE100 Annual Report 2015, please visit the SE100 website.

Social Enterprise Lecture Series Spring 2016

The Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London is holding a social enterprise lecture series, showcasing Social Entrepreneurship across sectors, and from around the world.

The series started on Tuesday 12th January, with a lecture from Dave Boyle, Director of The Community Shares Company, on ‘Community Shares, or, Social Investment by the rest of us‘. The series continues throughout January, February and March, with the last lecture on  Tuesday 15th March.

Speakers include former Director of Policy and Research at NCVO Margaret Bolton, and CEO of London Early Years Foundation June O’Sullivan MBE.

Please click here to download the full programme. Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths website.