Making a Mark Competition Shortlist

Celebrate the vast and diverse social benefits created by Social Enterprise Mark holders

Making a Mark competitionThe Making a Mark competition is back for a third year!

This annual competition celebrates the vast impact that accredited social enterprises make through their diverse activities, highlighting examples of how social enterprises are creating considerable impact within their local communities and in wider society. The winner will be announced at a special reception at our annual conference (in York) on 6th June.

We have selected the below shortlist from entries from our network of Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark holders, based on the quality of their responses to the social impact questions that are required as part of the application and full review process.

As in previous years, we are keeping the competition criteria relatively broad, in reflection of the diverse base of social enterprises we work with. However, in deciding the shortlist we have taken account of how carefully entrants have addressed different elements of the social impact questions posed at application/full review. We also considered how succinctly they have described achievements and what sort of story these tell about the kind of social enterprise they are.

You can view the social impact reponses of each shortlisted organisation below.

The shortlist went out to a public vote, which closed on 4th May. The voting results will account for 50% of the final result, with the other 50% being decided by the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team and the independent Certification PanelThe winner will be announced at a drinks reception at our Spreading the Wealth conference in York on 6th June 2018.


Cosmic is an ethical IT business which specialises in website development, IT training courses, business consultancy, tech support, digital marketing and search engine optimisation.

Cosmic is able to offer much more than just top quality, affordable and effective services. Because they are a social enterprise, they are continually involved in a range of projects which achieve meaningful social impact for individuals and organisations across the South West. They use their own resources to develop and deliver brilliant project work benefitting thousands of people.

Cosmic has a wide stakeholder focus, a company membership and strong strategic partners helping them to deliver social impact and reinvest profits and resources where they will make the most difference.

Cosmic logo

Creating Social Impact

Social objectives

What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?

The fundamental social aim of Cosmic is to address the issue of Digital Inclusion – ensuring that people from all backgrounds, communities, geographies and demographics have equal opportunity and ability at excel through the use of technology. There is disparity in skills, awareness, education and access to digital technology. This is a hindrance and obstacle to development for many people – especially in the South West, where Cosmic predominantly operate. We seek to counter this issue through a variety of services.

As a by-product of this social aim, we address issues of health, wellbeing, financial stability, employability, ageing, isolation and mobility. We use the focus of Digital technology (the skills and the access to resources) as a medium for engaging with groups and individuals – allowing us to support them in a number of ways.

Actions taken to address social objectives

What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?

Cosmic provides a number of commercial services and also deliver a variety of funded projects – all of which directly support our social aims.

Delivery of engagement and training though funded projects:

Positive People:

Cosmic operate this project in Devon and Somerset. It aims to help those furthest from the workplace overcome their personal barriers and move towards work/volunteering/job search. In so doing it aims to improve life chances and provide better opportunities to people out of work and socially isolated. It aims to reduce social exclusion and combat personal barriers to employment.

This is done through Change Coaches who support individuals and refer to or buy in specialist provision tailored to help remove personal barriers. One of these barriers is people’s confidence in their ability to use technology and their understanding of how it can help their daily lives. Cosmic are delivering the digital element of this project as we believe that without exception everyone can benefit from technology.

The Devon BBO project is also in the process of recruiting Digital Change Coaches, who will be able to directly inform on digital needs enabling us to provide more effective digital support.

Growth Support Programme:

This has been made available to support existing Somerset and Devon based businesses wishing to grow, expand or who just wish to have an outside view of their current business. The programme provides an initial 3-hour business diagnostic and for suitable businesses a further 9-hour support package including an assessment of digital opportunities.

Enhance Social Enterprise Programme:

The ESE programme is available across Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and Somerset, and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and local partners in order to increase the number of social enterprise start-ups and to support the growth of existing ones. Eligible applicants are able to receive up to 12 hours of support for their business from any of the partners involved. Workshops and mentoring support are available for social enterprises looking to explore all aspects of their business including digital, leadership development, and managing growth. For any social enterprises that are not yet trading there is support available around legal structures and governance.

Prince’s Countryside Fund:

We have funding under this project to enable us to provide one to one free digital mentoring for farms and farming communities within Dartmoor and Exmoor. The support provided could include: basic payment scheme support, Google hangouts and Skype, benefits of cloud, using social media, and connectivity. Through this project we are able to support farming communities to understand benefits of using digital, introduce them to new software, apps and hardware and help them become more efficient and less fearful of the future of technology. (See PCF Six Month Report 2017)

Get Up To Speed:

This project will come to an end as of 20th February 2018, and has been very successful over the course of the project. It has been a support service in association with the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, that provided individuals and businesses with knowledge and skills of how to make the most of current and future faster broadband, throughout the whole of Devon and Somerset. We provided free workshops, talks, stands and meetings for both communities and businesses to help boost digital skills and share the benefits of superfast broadband.

Get Business Get Digital:

A training programme that completed in December 2017, and was funded by Sedgemoor District Council, Taunton Deane District Council and West Somerset Council. This project enabled us to support small businesses and individuals creating startups to become successful. This was through workshops and one to one mentoring which was split into two: business support and digital support. The workshops covered a range of topics within digital and business, and the one-to-one mentoring was tailored to the client’s specific needs.

In-house support and training for housing association communities at Yarlington Housing Group:

  • Our permanent, full time in-house digital trainer supports the 20,000 residents with a variety of training and advisory services.

Business support for commercial entities:

  • skills training
  • knowledge building
  • workforce development
  • digital leadership support
  • consultancy
  • strategy development

IT Tech Support:

  • Traditional IT support services for Schools, charities and local businesses.

Website development:

  • design, build and hosting of affordable websites for schools, charities, local parishes, community groups and commercial businesses.

Outcomes of these actions

What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?

The delivery of Cosmic’s commercial services typically has real tangible and measurable benefits; e.g. the production of a new community or school website, the support of IT infrastructure within a charity and the training and education of staff within businesses. The impact is usually immediate and in plain sight.

The delivery of many of the funded projects are hugely impactful, much of it instantaneous and tangible, but also much of it more long-tail, intangible and harder to measure. We have worked hard to capture and record these benefits. The sections below attempt to describe how our funded work have benefitted individuals, communities and other stakeholders:

BBO Positive People:

The focus of this project is to gradually, over a long period, support individuals on their own personal journey back into work. Getting people into work not only benefits the individual but has a far greater social impact e.g. reducing peoples’ involvement in drugs, alcohol abuse, criminal activity and increasing economic progress and growth.

Personal benefits are increased confidence and maps onto the “five pillars of wellbeing” which we promote as part of our engagement with the recipients.

Growth Support Programme:

The benefits of the Growth Support Programme include output focussed advice aimed at challenging and motivating small businesses drive for success; access to wide range of support material; two-way growth conversations which explore the potential to harness digital technology to drive productivity, increase turnover, reduce costs and enhance customer service; and, tailored action plans designed to help businesses reach their full growth potential. Some benefits are immediate, such as increased social media interest in a business. Some are much harder to monitor, such as the long term growth and success of a business through improved digital marketing.

Prince’s Countryside Fund:

The way in which businesses have benefitted from this project is that we are able to provide free digital training to remote businesses who otherwise may not have this access to knowledge and skill. Due to the funding we have been able to travel to our clients’ own remote locations and provide the support at their business, instead of them having to pay the expense of travelling to us. The way individuals have benefitted is being able to understand more about technology and how it can enhance their businesses, such as using online retailers to order farming equipment, and using social media to promote their products.

Get Up To Speed:

Over the course of this project we have been able to provide support and knowledge to a number of businesses, communities and individuals. The ways in which clients have benefitted from this project is that they have been free, and the workshops, talks and stands have been held all across Devon and Somerset to allow everyone to access. We have also regularly provided talks or workshops for businesses and community groups, when they have asked, tailored to their specific needs. These workshops and talks have covered everything Digital such as the new GDPR laws, cyber security, and “standing out on social media”. This benefits the attendees because it provides them with more information about future technology, how to use Digital to its full potential, and during practical workshops it also provides them with the skills they need to access the world of Digital.

Get Business Get Digital:

The benefits of this project to our clients were, that the workshops and mentoring sessions were fully funded and free for them to access, and they had the choice of receiving information and advice about business or Digital concepts, or both. The one to one mentoring sessions were based on what the client wanted help or advice about, and provided in depth knowledge and skills to practice. The project covered businesses and individuals within Taunton Deane, West Somerset and Sedgemoor areas, and the workshops were organised to cover these districts.

Enhance Social Enterprise:

The benefits of the Enhance Social Enterprise programme are that it provides free workshops and mentoring consultation advice across Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and Somerset, and works towards enabling the growth of social enterprises in these areas. Each business can have 12 hours of support, from any of the partners, on any topic they need advice on and can attend any of the workshops organised to provide them with continuous skills and knowledge to apply to their businesses.

Measuring outcomes

How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?

With all our commercial and project work we conduct either feedback surveys or request full evaluation testimonials from the beneficiaries. We ask students of our training sessions to score and rate their own development and to evaluate the quality of our service. Feedback is always of a good quality and indicates that we are making a positive impact. Typically, people feel upskilled and educated around new areas of digital technology – which in turn impacts their confidence levels, productivity and ability to succeed.

With some of the longer-term projects, such as Positive People, our impact will be measured by external bodies such as SERIO as well as the lead partner, Pluss. We have a range of external targets to hit which cover the core numbers (engagement, sessions count, hours etc), but in addition to that each member of staff has been given KPIs to ensure we are all individually reaching those in need. These numbers are reviewed on a monthly and quarterly basis, and are discussed on both a team and management level to ensure improvements to delivery can be made.

Indicators of change that we measure are:

Project outcome    Indicators of change How we measure change
Enabling Individuals
  1. Individual “distance travelled” measure demonstrates an increase in positive mental outlook
  2. Individual “distance travelled” measure demonstrates an increase in improved personal resilience
Social Mobilisation
  1. Survey of participants shows an increase in awareness of services
  2. Survey of participants shows an increase in use of services
As above

Plus: External evaluation by SERIO (Plymouth University)

Health & Wellbeing Participant’s action plan has goals related to health and wellbeing, e.g.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Being more physically active
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet
We have devised a course that address these issues – Cosmic has introduced/teaching digital to help with these issues by using specific Apps. E.g.

Healthy weight –  apps that help with nutrition and healthy life style. E.g. very fit pro

Increase physical activity – Fit bits

Leaving a Legacy Using digital technology, we aim to increase involvement in community activities, e.g.

  • Volunteering
  • Participation in community groups
  • Positive People community ambassador

And show an increase in number of positive actions

Introducing the use of GPS for those anxious of leaving the home – therefore enabling them to “walk, catch a bus, cycle” to the activity before they walk out of their front door.

The use of social media to link with others in the community, work place

We report our progress and successes in a number of ways. We provide frequent updates and progress reports through blogs and articles upon our own website, which is then widely publicised through our popular social media channels.

Less frequent, but more formal reports are made and shared, and in March 2018 Cosmic will be publishing a publicly available Social Impact report for 2017.

Key metrics

How many people have benefitted from your actions?

Positive People:

Somerset: March 2017 to Feb 2018

  • Number of participants who have directly benefited from a workshop or 1:1 intervention = 84
  • Number of workshops delivered = 25
  • Number of engagement events delivered = 132
  • Number of digital inclusion hours delivered = 800

Devon: March 2017 to Feb 2018

  • Number of participants who have directly benefited from a workshop or 1:1 intervention: 90
  • Number of workshops delivered: 32
  • Number of engagement events delivered: 189
  • Number of digital inclusion hours delivered: 1616

Princes Countryside Fund:

Under this project we have completed 68.5 hours over 12 months of contract, and have worked with 32 individuals from farms or farming communities over Dartmoor and Exmoor. Within this 68.5 hours conducted, we have provided 35.5 hours of support to rural communities and have completed 33 hours of support to rural enterprises. We have also helped 8 farm business in hardship.

Get Up to Speed:

The Get Up to Speed project has enabled us to support 4,572 attendees to our workshops, stands, talks and meetings over the past year.

  • Workshops delivered: 97
  • Talks delivered: 54
  • Meetings: 4
  • Engagement stands: 10

Get Business Get Digital:

Under Get Business Get Digital, ourselves and Business Information Point have delivered 32 workshops, these included 10 in Sedgemoor, 9 in West Somerset, and 13 in Taunton Deane. We have completed 110 hours of mentoring, this was split into digital support of 80 hours and business support of 30 hours. The combination of the follow up hours completed were 66 hours. Overall, we have supported 79 unique businesses and 283 attendees.

Enhance Social Enterprise:

  • Workshops delivered: 7; 39 attendees overall.
  • Total amount of hours received from clients: 178.5 hours
  • Number of business supported: 58

Growth Support Programme:

  • Number of digital diagnostic delivered = 147
  • Number of digital support hours delivered = 441.

Yarlington Housing Association:

November 2014- on going

  • 400 plus residents have received support from Cosmic

Since May 2016:

  • 318 1:1’s booked
  • 84 Workshops
  • 135 group sessions
  • 40 hours per week delivery

Website customers:

We have worked with 327 clients on various pieces of working from creating new websites, to updates and training in 2017.

Examples/case studies

What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?

Case studies from Positive People:

Princes Countryside Fund – supporting rural communities in isolates places:

Under the Prince’s Countryside Fund project we gather case studies to show within our reports the impact the project is having. One of our case studies has been on a woman within Dartmoor who runs a farm and walking tours business. With the digital support she has received through the project she has been able to upload videos to her website and is currently updating the website, and downloading photos. Using her new knowledge and skills she is able to promote hydro and green energy for sustaining their business, and her digital skills has increased dramatically, allowing her to promote all aspects of her business online.

This is a quote from our case study client:

“For isolated rural workers these one-to-one mentoring sessions for farming families with Cosmic have proved invaluable. The list of questions I had about the new technology available and how to access it to help our business have all been answered. It has opened up  new ways to promote our business and allowed me to effectively use modern technology more efficiently. When the next opportunity to engage with more mentoring sessions comes I will be first in line to book up!” (Anon, January 2018).

Additional social benefits created

What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?

Tech support training:

Beyond the provision of IT technical support, our staff also provide complementary training and seminars to customers – typically Schools. For example, we provide “Online safety for children” workshops, presented to parents.


We provide discounts in website hosting costs to not-for-profit customers. We also support customers with their understanding of social media, SEO and website management as part of our service. We also designate a discounted support rate for charities and other community organisations and social enterprises.

Training & Consultancy:

Talks, seminars, and workshops – often provided free of charge – to business networks, local community groups and small businesses. Typically a public talk or seminar could cost in the region of £200-300. Collectively Cosmic give thousands of pounds worth of value every year through this sort of engagement.

Positive People:

Free Tech Support through Drop-Ins: Through the Positive People project, Cosmic offer free technical support for any member of society, whether eligible for the project or not, through our drop-ins. In this way we can promote the project to those who may know someone in need. An average of 6 of these are run per month throughout Devon and are funded by the project.

Cosmic are known for operating in a fair and transparent manner, providing quality service with a social conscience. We strive to tackle the issue of Digital Inclusion, supporting customers beyond their basic needs to ensure that we can give them more that they would ordinarily expect. We work to 5 core values which we work to uphold and be everyday:

  • Inspirational
  • Ethical
  • Friendly
  • Supportive
  • Innovative

Creating social benefit beyond core activities

What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?

In 2017 Cosmic elected Dartmoor Search and Rescue as its charity of the year. At no cost to them, we have supported this charity by training them in the use of social media, providing them with a website SEO report, a number of marketing videos as well as general marketing support and PR. The financial value of these services would typically exceed £2,500. This work has helped the charity to significantly improve is public awareness, reaching many more people and potential donors and supporters.

To offset the carbon footprint caused by BBO Devon’s travel commitments, the Positive People team planted over 400 trees in Culm Valley last year, with more sessions planned for this year

Cosmic have provided free training, workshops, sponsorship, websites and support services to a number of local organisations. We are socially aware of how our expertise in Digital can be of significant assistance to the communities in which we exist, and we try to support those most in need.

Internal policies and actions

What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?

As part of Cosmic’s policies and procedures we have an environmental policy, which outlines that we are committed to limiting the effects of climate change. As such we make every effort to reduce any negative impact on the environment they may make as a result of our activities. Staff should also encourage the people we support, stakeholders and suppliers to consider the environment in their work, activities and choices.

We also have a sustainability policy, which explains that as a social enterprise, Cosmic works towards the triple bottom line of people, profit and planet. We aim to model our business behaviours in a way that creates a sustainable thriving business which does good and cares for the environment.

Furthermore, the social benefits we have created through our equality and diversity policy is that Cosmic is committed to encouraging equality and diversity among our workforce, and eliminating unlawful discrimination. We want our workforce to represent all sections of society. And our customers, staff and the public feel respected and able to give their best in providing our services.

Ealing Community Transport

Ealing Community Transport, part of ECT Charity, is a leading provider of local community transport in the UK, which offers essential transport solutions, particularly for socially isolated people and those with mobility difficulties unable to access other services.

ECT creates social value through its charitable activities; it delivers high quality, safe, accessible and affordable transport services that positively benefit local communities.

By providing transport to people who are unable to access mainstream transport services, they deliver public benefit by supporting community participation and engagement and enabling people to access more opportunities to improve their lives.

Creating Social Impact

Social objectives

What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?

ECT is committed to providing high quality, safe, friendly, accessible and affordable transport in local communities to voluntary, community and statutory groups. In addition to group transport, we also provide accessible and affordable transport solutions to vulnerable individuals who otherwise would not be able to leave their homes, notably the elderly and people with disabilities.

We seek to enable independent living and encourage social interaction for these vulnerable people who have serious difficulty in accessing other forms of transport due to their mobility difficulties. We build partnerships with local befriending organisations in Ealing that helps us identify and encourage lonely and socially isolated elderly people to get out of their homes.

As part of our work on highlighting the issue of isolation and loneliness and the work Community Transport organisations do in being part of the solution, we launched our report Why Community Transport Matters which demonstrates the case for Community Transport in tackling the issues of Isolation and Loneliness and the significant side effects these have – both from an economic and social perspective.

Actions taken to address social objectives

What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?

The community transport solutions provided by ECT have each been developed to cover a specifically identified and unmet local transport need. Its target market comprises of those people who are unable to use mainstream public transport due to mobility or other difficulties, or because public transport or other services have been withdrawn.

We use the resources from our transport contracts with public bodies to support our charitable community transport activities, which include transport for individuals and transport for voluntary and community sector (VCS) groups :

  • ECT’s transport service for individuals, the “PlusBus” service, offers door-to-door journeys for residents unable to use public transport and those living in isolation. This can include demand-responsive services for shopping and other social reasons.
  • ECT’s group transport service provides safe, affordable and accessible minibuses to VCS groups, assisting them in achieving their own objectives.

In 2016/17 we provided transport to 15,000 individuals and 210 voluntary groups in Ealing, delivering 227,500 trips.

Over the years, ECT has been implementing new approaches to tackle loneliness and isolation. Building partnerships with other organisations has proven particularly effective identifying lonely people and helping them to go out. As a result we have been able to reach more people and save public money, both directly and indirectly.

The PlusBus for Health is an example of how ECT has been building partnerships to increase its social impact. ECT identified that access to transport is one of the biggest barriers to regular engagement with healthcare for lonely and isolated individuals.  As a result, Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group (ECCG) commissioned ECT to provide community transport services to enable older and disabled residents to attend GP appointments.  Initially a pilot, our PlusBus for Health service has been so successful that it has been fully commissioned by ECCG and now operates throughout the Borough for all GP practices. We are expecting to facilitate over 4,000 GP appointments this year by enabling patients who would not otherwise be able to come to the surgery to attend appointments. This service reduces house calls, missed appointments and, as these patients are now able to attend regular appointments, they are less likely to be an emergency admission to hospital.

We have found that using PlusBus for Health transport has improved the confidence of users and they are now more likely to use our door-to-door transport for other types of trips and live independently.

We also regularly speak at conferences and to local government officials to highlight this issue and the solution and value that community transport adds in helping to address this.

Outcomes of these actions

What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?

By providing transport to otherwise isolated or excluded people, community transport contributes to reducing isolation and developing sustainable communities. These door-to-door services, delivered using wheelchair accessible vehicles, are often the only way in which some individuals can go out of their homes. It enables users to live independently: shopping, socialising with friends and going on day trips.

In the UK, 30% of older people in the UK say they would like to go out more often.[1] 80% of ECT’s PlusBus door-to-door passengers said they would find it significantly harder or impossible to go out without our services.

Community transport increases social interactions and improves the physical and mental wellbeing of isolated people. In the UK, 17% of older people have no contact with family, friends or neighbours all week.[2] 85% of ECT’s PlusBus passengers said that our service has made them feel more confident and 97% said that it has made them feel better.

Our report Why Community Transport Matters released in January 2016 contributed to raise awareness on loneliness and isolation in our Borough. We are delighted that the London Borough of Ealing (LBE) in response launched its Charter to end loneliness and isolation in March 2016

[1] TNS Loneliness survey for Age UK, April 2014 ; cited in Age UK (2014) Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life

[2] C. Victor et al. (2003) Loneliness, Social Isolation and Living Alone in Later Life ; cited in Age UK (2014) Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life

Measuring outcomes

How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?

Our activity level KPIs help us monitor every quarter the number of individual and group trips we provide to the community. We also collect wellbeing information from our users when they start using the service in our membership form and have conducted user surveys. We also regularly interview our users and compile case studies.

We are currently conducting an impact evaluation on the PlusBus for Health service we provide under contract of the Ealing CCG. Through this service, we provide community transport services to enable older and disabled residents who would not otherwise be able to come to the GP surgery to attend their health appointments. The evaluation entails collecting quantitative and qualitative data to assess the impact our transport service as had on patients’ health and on GP surgery activity level (reduction in missed appointments, reduction in home visits etc.)

Key metrics

How many people have benefitted from your actions?

In 2016/17 we provided transport to 15,000 individuals and 210 voluntary groups in Ealing, delivering 227,500 trips.

During the year ending March 2017, ECT’s community transport activities have created additional social value worth £823,600 to the community. This measures the following outcomes: enabling independent living, facilitating social interaction, enabling affordable trips for voluntary and community groups and supporting the voluntary sector.

Examples/case studies

What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?

Case study: Bob and Jill P

Bob is 82 years old and is a wheelchair user. He lives with his wife, Jill, also over 80, who is his primary carer. Jill was finding it hard to leave the house with her husband due to the expense of taxi fares and the difficulty of accommodating Bob’s wheelchair in the vehicles. Despite having each other and living in such an urban area, they felt isolated and cut off from the outside world. Their lives changed five years ago when they started using community transport in Ealing.

Jill told us: “Most of the time we travel together and the driver takes us from our home to the nearby luncheon club or occasionally to the clinic. We really enjoy seeing our friends at the club. It’s so much nicer than only chatting with them on the phone. Bob and I always feel very happy after a trip out of the house. It’s good to laugh and hear other people’s stories. I would worry about Bob’s mental health a lot more if he didn’t have that chance to get out of the house. It’s hard for him being in a wheelchair and being cared for. I think it also helps me stay positive as I feel that there are people around us supporting us. It’s nice for our children and grandchildren to see that we are able to still feel part of the community.”

Case study: Ethel

ECT passenger Ethel is a testament to how community transport can help older members of the community maintain their independence. Having turned 100 years old in March 2016, Ethel had been using the PlusBus service in Ealing for over 10 years. Originally using PlusBus to get out and about with her husband, Ethel now uses the service to go shopping and visit the hairdresser for regular haircuts. She says that without it, she would have to move to an old people’s home.

Ethel told us: “The PlusBus service has a huge impact on my independence. It helps me to remain living independently in my own home. If I wasn’t out and about doing different things on different days, I would go mad!”

Ethel’s daughter, said: “It’s so important that people like my mum are able to stay in their own homes rather than having to move into supportive housing or care homes. Little bits and pieces, like access to accessible transport, all add up and help her world go round and keep her independent.”

Case study: Memory groups with West London Mental Health Trust’s Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Service (CIDS)

People living with dementia benefit greatly from support groups run by the West London Mental Health Trust’s Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Service (CIDS). Accessing these groups via public transport is unfortunately not an option for the majority of patients. However Kianna Compton, assistant clinical psychologist at CIDS, was determined that these important groups should be more accessible to those most in need, so she got in touch with ECT to see what could be done. Kianna arranged for ECT to pick up patients using our specialist door-to-door PlusBus transport services, and drive them safely to and from their memory groups.

Kianna explains: “What drew me to ECT was the fact that they can provide transport for more than one patient at a time, and the PlusBus ‘Big Green Buses’ made it easy to explain to patients what to look out for, and even remember over time. The same drivers pick particular patients up each week, which is great as consistency is really important for our patients to feel confident in their surroundings. If it was not for the support of the ECT team, our activities would not have been accessible to many of our memory groups’ patients. Since registering with ECT, the CIDS patient attendance has risen from an average of 65% to 97% attendance from referral stage to completion of the programmes.”

Jim, CIDS service user, said: “The service has been working really well – it makes attending these groups possible for me. The drivers are always on time and polite and they can drive much better than I ever could!”

Case study: Day trips with the Multiple Sclerosis Society

ECT has worked with voluntary and community organisations to organise day trips for vulnerable members of community groups in Ealing. For many older or disabled people, getting away over the summer months is not an option, as mainstream transport services do not accommodate those with mobility difficulties and other reasons. ECT’s Group Transport service enables voluntary or community organisations (including charities, social groups and schools) to access affordable, accessible minibuses so that they can provide services and trips (both regular and one-off day opportunities) to their members.  This summer, day trips facilitated by ECT included outings across London, including Kew Gardens, RAF Museum and Richmond Park, as well as further afield, to Brighton, Southend and Chessington World of Adventures. Getting away on these outings and day trips is equivalent to a “holiday” in itself for isolated people.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch), long-standing members of ECT, booked transport for 40 of its members, including 7 wheelchair users, to Kew Gardens. The Chair of the Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch), said: “It’s so important for such a large group of our members to get together, get out and enjoy different activities, and ECT allows us to do that. Some of our members have very limited mobility, and are reliant on the accessible transport that ECT provides. The alternative is trying to organise taxis, which is an expensive option and we certainly could not afford to do that every day. We try and use income from charitable donations as best we can. ECT’s affordable transport helps us to fulfil our objectives as a charity; otherwise we couldn’t get our members to our events.

Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch) member, Aisha, has been on a number of trips with ECT over the summer, including Kew Gardens. She said: “Lots of the people on these trips are disabled and wouldn’t get a chance to go anywhere over the summer without ECT – they’d be stuck in their house all day long. I wouldn’t be able to go very far at all – I have a motorised wheelchair.  These trips are great – I love meeting people, everyone’s nice and we always have a lovely day out. The drivers will do everything possible to make it a good trip. I don’t know what we would do without this service.”

Additional social benefits created

What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?

Our model sees us reinvest our surplus each year to provide subsidised transport to groups, which enables them to carry out their activities.

ECT recognises that the cost of transport can be a barrier for local voluntary and community groups in delivering their services, broadening their range of services for members and be accessible to all whatever their mobility. Our Transport Fund seeks to remove these barriers by providing credit worth up to £1,000 to voluntary and community organisations in Ealing to offset the cost of transport provided by ECT. By doing so, we aim to support these organisations in creating social opportunities for isolated individuals.

Most recently, thanks to the Fund, ECT is transporting lonely and isolated residents to tea parties hosted by firefighters at Acton Fire Station. Social opportunities such as these are of huge value to the health and wellbeing of the community.

Creating social benefit beyond core activities

What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?

  • ECT is committed to minibus safety in the wider community. We provide Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS) training to drivers for organisations who operate their own minibuses.
  • ECT has created a methodology whereby other community transport organisations can measure their social value (described in detail above).
  • ECT’s CEO is heavily involved in the local community, a prominent member of a variety of committees and scrutiny panels representing the local Community Voluntary Sector, making sure their voices are heard.
  • ECT’s CEO is Chair of a London Forum of community transport operators.
  • ECT’s CEO is Chair of Mobility Matters, a campaign group set up to ensure that CT organisations in the UK are able to continue to operate to meet the diverse travel needs of individuals and communities, and that appropriate operational legislation is in place to achieve this

Internal policies and actions

What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?

Our internal operational policies support the delivery of our charitable transport activities. We maximise the use of our fleet of vehicles to benefit the communities we work with. This means for instance using vehicles to transport lonely individuals or community groups during off-peak hours.

In providing a minibus resource which is shared by a variety of community groups, it reduces the number of minibuses in the community which are parked up and rarely used.

East Lancashire Medical Services

East Lancashire Medical Services (ELMS) is a social enterprise delivering Urgent Primary Care 24 hours a day, 365 days per year to patients in Pennine Lancashire.

Their aim is to improve the health and the healthcare experiences
of people in the local community. Patients are at the heart of ELMS services and have an input into the operational and strategic elements of the organisation via the Patient Voices Group (PVG), which aims to improve and shape the services provided by ELMS.

East-Lancashire-Medical-Services logo

Creating Social Impact

Social objectives

What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?

Our overall aim is to improve the health and the healthcare experiences of people in our local community. We also offer services to improve, benefit and assist, the daily working lives of doctors and other healthcare professionals in the area and contribute to making the area more attractive to those looking for Healthcare employment opportunities.

We look to increase and improve access to services, reduce isolation for elderly and vulnerable patients, keep patients out of hospital where medically practicable thereby keeping families together and offer employment to Healthcare professionals and non-clinical staff in the area.

East Lancashire is an area of high deprivation and we are working towards better educating patients about Healthcare matters and the services best suited to manage their healthcare needs.

We actively look to provide our workforce with a range of support services to assist them in their work life balance and offer additional benefits which may help them address any issues of concern outside the workplace.

Actions taken to address social objectives

What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?

In recent years ELMS has embarked on pilot schemes and trials in order to provide a number of gold standard services to improve healthcare experiences in the local community which have in many cases required financial support from the organisation to get the initial schemes off the ground.

  • The Acute Visiting Service (AVS) has operated successfully for local GP Practices offering acute visits to Primary Care patients to minimise the risk of unnecessary hospital admissions and free up additional GP surgery time.
  • ELMS has gone into partnership with Slaidburn Country Practice, a very small and isolated GP Practice in the area experiencing continuing funding issues. Working with patients, MP’s and the local CCG, ELMS have supported provision of healthcare services in the area for patients in order to improve and retain local services.
  • ELMS Patient Voices Group (PVG) act as a critical friend to the organisation, advising and influencing many of ELMS services with their valued experiences and contributions.
  • ELMS operate a gold standard Over 75’s scheme – delivered by a dedicated team comprising of an Advanced Nurse Practitioner and experienced Health Care Assistant. The overarching objective of the ELMS Federated Practice over 75’s service is to improve health and reduce incapacity in those aged over 75, particularly the frail elderly and those consistently reliant on other health and social care services.
  • ELMS staff have instigated the commencement of a number of schemes in the area including Outreach to local Mosques and swimming / fitness classes at a local community leisure centre
  • ELMS Head Office premises incorporate a number of meeting / training rooms which are made available for use by other local Healthcare organisations and services for conferences and meetings.
  • As part of ELMS commitment to the Social Enterprise ethos ELMS provide unfunded facilities to accommodate GP registrars working alongside GP trainers in the Out of Hours setting during their training programme.
  • At our rural GP Practice, staff are trained and able to act as urgent responders to aid and assist patients in life threatening situations or serious accidents until an ambulance arrives, this can be some time given the rurality of the practice and has saved lives, this is unfunded.
  • ELMS have made its premises available to house the local Mental Health Crisis Team alongside the GP Out of Hours service promoting improved liaison between services out of GP surgery hours (weekends etc.) and better, more secure working conditions for staff.
  • Our staff actively support charity fund raising events throughout the year raising money for children in need, creating and selling a 2018 calendar following a photograph competition, supporting a fancy dress day, buying wrist bands in support of a local GP who recently passed away after battling cancer, and supporting jeans for genes day.
  • ELMS have a scheme available through a company called Neyber, to support the workforce in their financial wellbeing. This scheme offers advice to staff on how to better manage their money, with access to financial education insights and affordable loans they can repay straight from their salary.
  • As part of its commitment to the health and well-being of its staff, ELMS, working in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council provides staff with an Employee Assistance Programme. The service, which is managed by Confidential Care Ltd (CiC), allows staff to access a range of support, both emotional and practical, across a wide range of areas covering both work and personal issues i.e. counselling, dealing with bereavement, financial advice, information regarding local amenities and services.  The service can be accessed at any time.

Outcomes of these actions

What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?

  • The community has benefited from improved and additional services, reduced social isolation, fewer unnecessary hospital admissions and better health outcomes
  • There has been improved communication between individuals and services for the benefit of patients in the area. Individuals have upskilled and developed their learning and knowledge along with expanding their roles in a variety of areas.
  • Other stakeholders (including East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, North West Ambulance Service, Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and our local Clinical Commissioning Groups) have benefited from ELMS actions, not just financially but also from the improvement in health outcomes, reduced hospital admissions and overall patient satisfaction with ELMS services.

Measuring outcomes

How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?

ELMS undertakes regular surveys and actively engage with service users and the local community.  The Patient Voices Group conduct face to face waiting room surveys and ELMS also collates information through the family and friends NHS survey document.

Our complaints process is open and transparent, we learn lessons from the comments received and look to make positive improvements and implement any required changes from the suggestions we receive.

We will continue to review and monitor the above information to pro-actively make changes should patterns emerge.  ELMS provides detailed information to commissioners and stakeholders of its feedback and achievements in addition to the national and local requirements of data and statistics.  We produce regular newsletters for groups of staff which incorporates information to guide and assist them in carrying out their role, along with keeping them up to date with the organisations position. ELMS has a website where information is made available to patients and staff with achievements identified. ELMS also have a staff intranet for internal notifications and information.  Newsletters, updates and reports are circulated throughout the organisation periodically and an Annual Report produced which is available on our website.

Key metrics

How many people have benefitted from your actions?

Across ELMS range of activities, approximately 180,000 patients have accessed the services we provide. All patient groups benefit from ELMS services across the entire community including adults, children, the elderly, disabled, disadvantaged and vulnerable.

Locations are shown above however it is not only patients from all communities and groups that have benefited from ELMS services, but also stakeholders and other service providers.  Should ELMS services not have been available and accessible to all members of the community, attendances at A&E would be much higher with longer wait times for patients, more ambulances would be called, many unnecessarily; delays for patients would be inevitable and target times missed for many neighbouring service providers.

Examples/case studies

What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?

Click here to view a summary of patient feedback (September 2017).

Creating social benefit beyond core activities

What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?

We offer an Employee Assistance Programme to provide assistance, support and advice services to our employees, to which we contribute over £2,000 a year.

Internal policies and actions

What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?

We participate in the Floorbrite Recycling Programme and in 2017 diverted over 10,000kg of waste from landfill and achieved zero landfill on our sites.

At our last Annual General Meeting, STAR awards were presented to staff who had been nominated in a survey as being those who ‘go the extra mile’ for patients and colleagues.  Certificates were presented to the nominated staff members who could also select either a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates

£88.06 collected for children in need and paid in December 2017.

Live Active Leisure

Live Active Lesiure is the largest leisure provide in Perth and Kinross. They promise local people the opportunity to experience quality, value for money choices in a vibrant and safe environment delivered in a supportive, enthusiastic and professional way.

Working together with customers, staff and partners, they aim to give the people of Perth and Kinross the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a physically active lifestyle. Their vision is to be the provider of choice for everyone to ‘live active’ lives.

Creating Social Impact

Social objectives

What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?

We aim to address:

  • Impact of low physical activity levels on people’s health
  • Low levels of use of sport and leisure services by people living with the greatest inequalities with a focus on disability, age, ethnicity, low income
  • Social isolation
  • Achieving full potential in life
  • Knowledge and skill levels of partners who support priority groups to engage with opportunities and benefit from LAL services

We aim to promote:

  • Improving peoples physical, mental and social wellbeing through formal and informal participation in physical activity, sport and recreational activities
  • Improving people’s potential to achieve their potential qualifications and employment

Being involved in physical activity and sport, whether formally or informally, whatever your age or ability brings individual and community benefits. As a result of involvement in our services we have supported individuals, communities and other partners to make a positive difference:

  • Improved physical health (fitness/ balance / functional ability)
  • Improved confidence and self esteem
  • Engagement with more opportunities
  • Routes in to education and employment
  • Improved social connectionsAll of these can contribute to a better quality of life and ability to take part in community activities and live independently without the support of services.

The long-lasting difference we have aimed to influence:

  • The long-term behaviour change of individuals resulting in sustained physical activity and involvement in community groups
  • The creation of new opportunities in a range of settings outwith sport and leisure venues
  • The success of young people in achieving learning and employment goals (achieving qualifications and working in the sector)
  • The creation of sustainable opportunities led by the community and supported by LAL
  • Confidence to access LAL services as part of weekly life

Actions taken to address social objectives

What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?

LAL provides a range of core services providing informal and organised sport and leisure opportunities for all across Perth and Kinross in 17 venues. Activities to support our social aims in relation to:

Core services

  • Reduced concessions prices for people in receipt of benefits or from priority groups
  • Compass Membership – providing free and very reduced cost access for at least 1 year to individuals being supported by partners services in relation to social and health inequalities
  • Term time and holiday programmes for pre-school and school aged children
  • Fitness, Sport and Wellbeing programmes for adults of all ages and abilities

Outreach and targeted programmes for Sport and Wellbeing

  • Support to community sport clubs to improve their provision and engage new participants
  • Active Schools initiatives to engage inactive children with a focus on girls, disability/ASN and social deprivation
  • Wellbeing programmes in community settings – training local people to deliver their own activity; supporting the creation of new classes for specific conditions such as stroke/falls; providing sessions for partners in care homes/ sheltered housing; targeted for particular groups (e.g. families supported by social work with new babies)
  • Specific wellbeing programmes for older adults and adults with long term conditions as a pathway from NHS services
  • Sports leadership – courses and programmes to support young people of school age to develop and sport and activity leaders
  • Sporting performance – we deliver programmes to support the development of talented young people who have the potential to represent the area or country

Employment and training

  • Modern apprenticeships
  • Work placements
  • Coach education and leadership training
  • Leisure industry operation courses (pool lifeguard)


  • Support other agencies to provide physical activity opportunities
  • Provide referral and signposting pathways for partner service users
  • Provide expertise in physical activity for meetings and staff development
  • Provide leadership to the third sector health and social care partnership in physical activity

Outcomes of these actions

What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?


  • Improved physical, mental and social wellbeing from participants on wellbeing programmes
  • Improved parent and child bonding/relationships
  • Increased confidence to access mainstream and targeted sport and leisure opportunities
  • Improved educational attainment
  • Improved confidence and self esteem
  • Success in sport at national and international level
  • Securing employment following placements, leadership programmes or apprenticeships


  • More opportunities in rural and urban areas out with leisure venues – improved access to opportunities
  • Increased social connections particularly for older adults
  • Increased skills and knowledge of local people to organise and run their own activity
  • Increased confidence in accessing local services for sport and leisure

Other stakeholders

  • Increased presence of physical activity, sport and leisure in local strategic planning
  • Providing support to the third sector health and social care partners to improve activity levels of service users – reducing reliance on services
  • Training / support for workforce of partners to recommend and signpost to opportunities
  • Adding value to services with the provision of physical activity opportunities or health screening
  • Supporting clubs to achieve good practice standards and secure funding to improve offer

Measuring outcomes

How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?

LAL take a range of steps to evidence the difference we make. Particularly for programmes and services targeted for those living with the greatest inequalities

  • Wellbeing programmes – the impact on individuals is measured by pre and post evaluation of the impact of their participation in our programmes; partners provide feedback on the value of joint working to their agenda/service; case studies are gathered to show impact on individuals
  • Externally funded programme reports are provided annually in relation to sport and wellbeing activity – covering return on investment, impact, quality and governance
  • Business plans reflect targets and measures to illustrate improved uptake and adherence to services
  • We provide an Annual Achievement report to all stakeholders and report to the local authority through contract arrangements and annual scrutiny
  • We ask for customer feedback on specific programmes and venues quarterly

We inform and develop staff in relation to our impact through:

  • Weekly staff newsletter – Bagels
  • Full company closure for staff development day each December
  • Weekly marketing bulletin informing of trends / issues we are responding to

We communicate with our partners and Board through our Spectator newsletter.

Key metrics

How many people have benefitted from your actions?

  • 148,000 swimming lessons for children and adults – approx. 3000 people
  • 49,000 term time and holiday coached activities from preschool to 16 – approx. 1300 children
  • 137,000 gym usages
  • 1.24 million active usages for the year in total.
  • Wellbeing – circa 1500 distinct participants in venue and community based programmes
  • Community Sport – 74 clubs directly supported through PACES / 10 community sports hubs supported / 105 clubs using LAL venues
  • Active Schools – 7888 distinct participants (44% of school roll)

Examples/case studies

What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?

Additional social benefits created

What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?

LAL’s core contract provides only 45% of total turnover the rest of which the company generates though business activity and other short term external funding. There are a range of company activities that are not deemed core. The investment in the development of the Wellbeing business stream is an example of such a commitment over many years. We widen our commitment to local priorities buy working to develop new approaches to returning more value from our activities for local people.

A value of £0.5 million has been estimated in relation to company activity not core funded (see Annual Achievement report) Examples:

  • Compass Membership – providing free and reduced cost access to individuals referred by partner services – an annual membership costs in the region of £240 (concession). We have approx. 1000 Compass members entitled to this level of access for free annually
  • Wellbeing and Sport – we secure other funding in the region of £0.25 million per year in support of community based sport and wellbeing activities and remits
  • Free and reduced venue hire for partners is provided by arrangements in all LAL venues – meeting / NHS weight management programmes / youth activity
  • Promotion of partner activity through our staff and customer newsletters and social media
  • Training and knowledge session for partners / input to Perth College UHI degrees
  • Free under 5 swimming
  • Concessions
  • Relationships with local businesses to add value to our membership – Rewards partners

Creating social benefit beyond core activities

What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?

  • 2 of our venues are deemed ‘Safe Places’ to provide support to vulnerable people in need
  • A programme of Healthy Working Life Activity is delivered raising funds for national charities such as Macmillan and British Heart Foundation
  • We support staff in their personal fundraising efforts through promotion and donation of prizes
  • We provide prizes to members – 100 club
  • Support external partners in fundraising activity

Internal policies and actions

What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?

We have policies which show LAL’s commitment to improving workforce life and environmental impact:

  • Environmental Policy
  • HR (free access/rewards/cyclescheme/rewards & recognition/development day)

Financial investment in both of these areas varies from year to year depending on specific projects. Some projects which deliver on the environmental policy may be linked to our Asset Management Strategy, ‘spend to save’ initiatives and purchasing processes.

The company makes a strong commitment to close down facilities for one day in the year to bring all staff together for an Employee Development Day, which is a significant investment of the company and as a charitable trust, it is important to maximise use of resources, so some staff incentives and rewards are sponsored by external local partners.

Midlands Psychology CIC

Midlands Psychology is a social enterprise built on community values and partnership, which offers tried and tested mental health and support services which are values-based and benefit from a strong focus on local services and partnerships with service users.

Through the social enterprise model, they are able to take an efficient, cost effective and flexible approach to delivering services, whilst retaining the values and principles of providing a public service. All profits are re-invested for the benefits of service users.

Midlands-Psychology-CIC logo

Creating Social Impact

Social objectives

What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?

We have been addressing:

  • the need for children who have social-communication difficulties to have their needs assessed, understood and addressed through individualised programmes of therapeutic and social support in the community
  • the need for children who have autism to access an appropriate facility for learning support if their autism prevents them from attending school
  • the need for young adults to have support to develop a range of independent living skills and to be supported to work towards living independently in the community
  • the need for young offenders to have their mental health and emotional well-being needs met so that they can participate in the social life of their communities
  • the need to engage local communities in support programmes for these groups of children and young adults, so that mental health becomes ‘everybody’s business’.

The social improvements we have been promoting include social inclusion, through:

  • autism awareness raising
  • creating diverse social learning opportunities, which welcome families and support workers
  • working with partners in the network to develop wide-ranging social, employment and training opportunities for our young adults who have autism and/ or learning disabilities
  • educating others about the mental health and emotional well-being of young offenders
  • recruiting parents as volunteers within our organisation, thereby offering them work opportunities, training, support and a potential career structure.

The social benefits we have aimed to deliver are based on our premise social capital is an integral part of the mental health and emotional well-being of all individuals – and communities.  Throughout 2017-2018 we have continued to work hard to:

  • connect people in their neighbourhoods and communities
  • improve local facilities for children and families
  • help people to live more independently and be a part of their local community, as well as making a positive contribution to it

The lasting differences we have aimed to achieve are:

  • to help improve the mental health and emotional well-being of our target populations and through our on-going programmes of support to empower them to sustain these improvements into the future
  • to change the way people think about ‘difference’
  • to raise awareness of how everyone can contribute towards the mental health outcomes of people in their community and can act as agents of change for each other.

Actions taken to address social objectives

What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?

Our day-to-day clinical work is based on a psycho-social understanding of emotional well-being, and so all of our staff are engaged, every day, in practising and promoting a view of mental health that is positive and focused around empowering people and supporting them to develop the skills they need to cope with their difficulties, both now and in the future.

  • This year we have continued to develop and increase our diverse range of group interventions to ensure we meet the needs of our population, with new groups running for parents and carers of children who have highly challenging behaviour and those whose children have feeding disorders, both of which have been in high demand from our service users and have been achieving excellent outcomes.
  • We have also worked hard throughout the year to continue to raise awareness in the communities where we work. Examples of this include holding a series of one day events for International Autism awareness week in April 2017, using ‘Skillshare’ workshops to spread skills and knowledge.
  • We have trained a broad range of professional groups throughout 2017-2018 and have continued to work to develop local neighbourhood networks to help make them accessible to our Service Users.  We have developed our Au-sums learning centre, which is parent-led.
  • We continue to work with the local branch of the National Autistic Society in providing reinvestment funds to support playgroups for young children with autism and provide a venue for young adults to develop their independent living skills, such as cooking and gardening.

Outcomes of these actions

What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?

  • Individuals – improved mental health and emotional well-being, as demonstrated using a range of measures; access to appropriate activities and opportunities
  • Community – more resources where needed; more facilities; easier access to support; greater awareness of others; meaningful involvement in supportive activity
  • Other stakeholders – Greater awareness; training opportunities; opportunities for ‘joined-up working’ and thinking; access to support and appropriate provision

Measuring outcomes

How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?

  • We evaluate all work that we do using psychometric measures and qualitative feedback
  • We seek opinions from service users and stakeholders using surveys and questionnaires
  • We reflect, analyse and report what we do in our Quarterly reports to commissioners
  • We share this information with our Parent Advisory Group
  • We publish our work in peer-reviewed journals to add to the knowledge base

All of the services we deliver remain locally-focused and outcomes-based, ensuring that Staffordshire children, young people and families continue to benefit year on year. We demonstrate this by continuous monitoring and evaluation, which we provide to Staffordshire Commissioners on a Quarterly basis.

We hold focus groups and use surveys routinely and consult with our Advisory Group regularly. Any issues raised are acted upon. Recent examples of this include a low percentage rating given to one of the rooms in which families are seen, which led to a reviewed room usage as a result and have consulted on plans for new accommodation in the future. Feedback on courses, workshops and groups often leads to changes being made. For example, our ‘Introduction to Autism’ course has been extended from a single session workshop to a 6-session course, following feedback from attendees. All of this information is collated and reported to Commissioners as part of our quarterly performance reports and these reports are made available to our Parent Advisory Group and Social Enterprise Board and discussed as a matter of course.

Key metrics

How many people have benefitted from your actions?

Within our autism service, the demand remains high for both assessments and interventions. During the twelve month period of October 2016 to September 2017 (our contract year), we received a total of 2,185 referrals, an average of 182 new referrals per month from a range of referrers across South Staffordshire. This equates to approx. 11,000 individual children, siblings and parents coming through the service over the twelve month period.

We have increased the locality clinics to enable us to see even more families closer to their home, with clinics held in 6 different locations across South Staffordshire.

In addition to this, we have also delivered highly specialist bespoke assessments to children with complex feeding disorders and provided treatment programmes to 10 children and their families nationwide during the same period. In September 2017 we invited parents to a feeding workshop, which was very well received, with 41 parents attending the days training.

We continue to provide psychological services to looked after children living in 8 residential and step down homes in Birmingham. Support and training is also provided to the Managers and staff at these homes. Therefore we are directly improving the lives of, on average, 50 young people and staff who work with them.

Our supported living service now supports 4 young adults to live in their own home. This has had a huge impact on their parents who, before now have been unable to consider taking a holiday alone. This service has therefore had a direct impact on 12 individuals plus their siblings. The supported living courses delivered by Midlands Psychology have a group of 8 young people who are learning independent living skills with the aim of moving on into their own supported living home in the future.

Our Ten-19 service has worked with 60 young people over the previous 12 months. These young people have been referred through the Staffordshire Youth Offending Team. The Ten 19 team also work closely with their families, helping them to support their children from re-offending in the future. Training is also provided to the Case Workers across the 3 Youth Offending offices in Staffordshire, thus supporting around 20 staff to improve their knowledge and understanding of the young people they are working with.

Our Au-sums education group is growing month on month and now has 55 members, with at least 10 children and their parents regularly attending the weekly groups and parent support meetings.

Midlands Psychology has recently submitted a bid to Sport England for funds to improve the physical activity of children with autism and their families. If successful, we will be working with around 200 families or 1,000 individual children and adults across South Staffordshire getting them to be more active together as a family.

We estimate, based on the above service provision, 11,413 children, young people and adults will have directly and indirectly accessed or be closely associated with Midlands Psychology.

Examples/case studies

What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?

Example/case study 1 – “Hope for those who can not eat!”

My daughter was born with Down syndrome and AVSD (heart defect). She was also born 7 weeks early. Because of all this she found it difficult to suck and to swallow. It was hard enough to breath. Her sucking reflex didn’t get developed and she didn’t learn how to drink. We tried to offer her lots but she never took more in than a few drops.

We tried and tried for several years and only when we got help from Midlands Psychology things started to change drastically. It took about 9months of intensive eating sessions 5 times a day, guided by Midlands Psychology. They came out regularly to see how my daughter was doing, they asked me to fill in graphs and papers on a daily basis, so they could see what was happening. They supported us with weekly phone calls and always knew how to help us in the challenging times.

We started with playing with food and very, very slowly moved on to touching food, bringing it to the mouth, then licking food. When our daughter started licking food we tried to increase the amount of times she licked the food, later we started to bring food to her mouth with a spoon. She took in a few drops during a feeding session, but after nine months we decreased the amount of milk she got in the tube. It still took another month before our daughter realised she should start eating, suddenly she put the spoon in her mouth and started eating herself. Not a few drops but about 20 spoonfuls! We were just standing in awe! This girl that wasn’t able to eat, was now eating her chocolate mousse herself!! It was a miracle to us.

We are so grateful for Midlands Psychology that they helped us to come this far and for all the support we got all through the programme and even beyond. Our daughter is no longer using tube feeding, she lives on yoghurt, soup and blended food and has started to show interest in solid food as well! We are happy to move forward and develop a normal eating pattern.

Example/case study 2

Our ongoing commitment to service evaluation and improvement includes the routine collection of information about our service users’ experiences of Midlands Psychology. We do this using the Experience of Service Questionnaire. These questionnaires are also now sent electronically to all families on completion of an episode of care.

The below provides questions and responses from families for the quarter period of July to September 2017:

  • I feel that the person who saw me listened to me 100%
  • It was easy to talk to the person who saw me 100%
  • I was treated well by the person who saw me 100%
  • My views and worries were taken seriously 100%
  • I feel the person I saw knew how to help me 100%
  • I have been given enough information about the help available 100%
  • I feel that people are working together to help me 100%
  • The room in which I was seen was comfortable 100%
  • Appointments were usually at a convenient time 100%
  • It was quite easy to get to the place where I have my appointments 100%
  • If a friend needed this sort of help, I would suggest to them to come here 100%
  • Overall, the help I have received was good 100%

Example/Case Study 3- School refusal

‘Jack’ (11) was diagnosed with autism in 2013 but did not need to access intervention services until earlier this year, when he started to show high levels of anxiety around going to school and his parents began to experience behavioural difficulties and outbursts at home. Things got progressively worse and Jack stopped attending school altogether. His parents felt unable to encourage him to go because his reaction was so extreme that he appeared terrified of the prospect. He reported physical symptoms and frightening thoughts that led his mother having to take leave from work to be with him at home and Jack became very reliant on her, needing her to be constantly within his sight.

Like many high functioning children with autism, Jack sets himself high standards in both his academic and social life. He was a child who was anxious to do the ‘right thing’ both in his school work and in social situations. As he has grown, the social and educational demands on him have increased so that they had exceeded his capacity to cope with them. He would begin to worry about his school day the evening before and went on to develop symptoms of panic when thinking about school. It was also learned that Jack had experienced a bereavement recently and that a close family member had been very ill. Jack was worried that his ‘symptoms’ might mean something was wrong with him.

Support for the family was two-fold. After an initial meeting with Jack’s parents, it was agreed to offer Jack some individual work around understanding and managing his emotions. In addition, it was thought that his parents would benefit from some psycho-education about autism and some tailored advice on behaviour management. Jack began a six-week course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy where he learned about the interaction between his thoughts, feelings and behaviour. He learned to understand and manage the physical feelings of anxiety and to challenge some of his thinking errors. His mum sat in on sessions and encouraged Jack to practice the things he had learned between sessions. His mum and dad also attended sessions to find out more about the challenges that Jack might face in school and how to address these, partly by intervening and managing his environment for him, but also by teaching him problem solving skills, social skills and coping strategies so that he would be able to compensate for his difficulties more for himself as he gets older. His parents recognised that thinking differences and skill deficits arising from his autism led to difficulties in school and began to address these. They also put in a behavioural programme to encourage positive behaviours though rewards, and recognised the importance of modelling appropriate behaviours and avoiding inadvertently reinforcing unhelpful behaviours. Finally, with support, the family put in a staged plan to return Jack to school, which began with his mother attending school with him and gradually withdrawing her presence.

Jack is now attending school full time and his mother is soon to return to work herself. In their last session, his parents reported that Jack’s anxiety is much reduced, although school is something that still worries him. However, there is an agreement that Jack can telephone his mother twice a day from school and he is rewarded for making it through half days without calling home. His parents recognise that there is still work to do but feel that they have the skills now to support Jack. He has been discharged but will be seen again before the new school year for a ‘booster’ session to remind him of all he has learned in preparation for his transition to Secondary School.

Additional social benefits created

What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?

We are engaged every day in providing a range of services within our core provision, which are delivered in a unique way, offering individual, family and social benefits above and beyond those that would be expected from ‘for profit’ providers. This is because our not-for-profit social enterprise ethos inspires us, not only to do things differently but also to add social value wherever we can. For example:

  • actively seeking to employ service users and adults with autism in our social enterprise
  • training and supporting parents to work alongside us as volunteers
  • providing ‘non-standard’  flexible and accessible support (e.g. evenings and weekends, as well as daytime)
  • pioneering community programmes of support than connect people, as well as provide them with the skills they need to cope with their difficulties

Our staff work hard to bring families together and engage them in fun activities, where they would otherwise have few opportunities to leave the house (many of our children are not able to go to school or engage in any social activities outside of their homes). Initiatives this year have included:

  • Fundraising activity programmes with families (e.g. Christmas Fair, Autism-Awareness week)
  • Social programme (e.g. The Gruffalo Trail; Parent Support Group)
  • Holiday activities (e.g. family picnic, art and craft group, ‘rest and relaxation’ group)
  • Unique opportunities for children who have autism (e.g. a workshop with The Royal Ballet)

The investment in these activities tends to be ‘in kind’, with staff, parents and volunteers giving freely and generously of their time. Any associated costs (i.e. refreshments, room hire etc) are met by Midlands Psychology reinvestment. Monies raised from fundraising this year have been invested in AU-SUMS.

Creating social benefit beyond core activities

What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?

  • Our meeting rooms are always open to free use by parent groups
  • Au-sums – building and staff member entirely funded from MP reinvestment
  • Au-sums – activities, learning programmes and equipment funded from MP fundraising
  • Reinvestment into the local social programme for young adults who have autism
  • Provision of in-kind and cash made available for Sports England bid if successful

Based on the above, Midlands Psychology has financially invested as cash and in-kind a minimum of £102,000.

What changed?

Re-investment in Au-sums has already started to bring about significant change in the lives of the children and young people who use the facilities, as well as their parents. 3 Children have been bridged back into education – one boy had been out of school for 4 years. Parents are facilitated to help in the Centre and this has led to improvements in their emotional well-being and sense of efficacy.

Reinvesting into the local social programme enables young adults who would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet others to do so. We have seen this have an impact on their confidence and friendship skills.

We feel that by doing the things we do in the way that we do we influence others to reflect on their own work in the community. We have had many visitors to our new AU-SUMS Learning Centre, including education workers, who are now helping us pioneer this approach. Other local mental health providers have been very much influenced by our extensive range of workshops and courses and have begun to offer similar things.

Partners for Possibility

Partners for Possibility (PfP), the flagship programme of Symphonia for South Africa (SSA), is a creative solution to South Africa’ education crisis. It is a co-action, co-learning partnership between School Principals and Business Leaders, enabling social cohesion through partnerships, and empowering Principals to become change leaders in their schools and communities.

SSA aims to strengthen the fabric of South African society by mobilising business, government and civil society to work collaboratively towards meeting the educational challenges facing South Africa.

Creating Social Impact

Social objectives

What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?

South African school children are consistently ranked at or near the bottom in international tests of literacy and numeracy and in this respect South Africa lags far behind other middle-income countries. In the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, South Africa scored lowest out of 50 countries for reading ability, with 78% of Grade 4 children being unable to read with comprehension after four full years of education.

Research shows that early reading deficits cause most children to fall further behind over time and helps explain why around 50% of South African students drop out and never graduate from secondary school. Students who drop out tend to join the ranks of the unemployed or accept low-productivity, low-pay jobs. The current state of the South African education system is thus perpetuating inequality.

Symphonia’s aim is to reverse this situation by contributing to sustainable improvements in the country’s education system and by creating opportunities for people to cross boundaries, learn from each other and develop bonds and relationships that strengthen the fabric of our society and build our nation. Because we believe that South Africa belongs to ALL its people and the future of the country is our collective future, we mobilise business, government and civil society to work collaboratively towards addressing the challenges in the education system. We also provide a structure in which active citizens can use their talents and skills to help ensure that ALL South African children receive a high-quality education and can embrace their potential.

Actions taken to address social objectives

What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?

Decades of research has consistently shown that the leadership of school principals has a powerful impact on education outcomes. While the role of a school principal is an inherently challenging one, in South Africa, which is one of the most unequal societies in the world, the majority of principals face formidable additional leadership challenges which arise from factors including poor school infrastructure, under-qualified and demotivated teachers, and students who are often hungry and ill, do not have proper clothing and lack parental support.

Despite this, school principals are not being properly equipped or supported to manage in such challenging contexts, let alone to lead the major turnaround that is needed in the country’s education system.

Symphonia’s flagship programme, Partners for Possibility (PfP), was established in 2011 to develop the leadership capacity of school principals in under-resourced and consequently under-performing public schools while simultaneously providing practical support to improve the functioning of those schools. The programme partners principals with experienced business leaders who work alongside them in schools as part of a structured 12-month leadership development programme. To date, the PfP programme has been launched in 709 schools across South Africa.

The programme consists of several components for which participants need to commit at least 150 hours over a one-year period. Around 70% of their learning occurs within the school environment, 20% through networking, collaboration and developmental relationships, and 10% through formal training. The components are as follows:

  • Participation in five days of formal training, inclusive of course material and books
  • Coaching from a professionally qualified executive coach
  • Participation in regular facilitated communities of practice in which a group of school principals and business leaders meet to share ideas and best practice
  • Action learning whereby each partnership identifies challenges in schools, develops plans to address them and leads change by spending several hours per month collaborating and implementing actions to bring about change within their schools
  • Access to a pool of research, ideas and historical best practice models
  • Journaling – participants compile a journal which details their learning and partnership plans, activities and outcomes. They also have the option of completing a Portfolio of Evidence which is moderated by the University of the Western Cape and supports their learning through evidence gathering, reflection and sense-making.

A key feature of the PfP programme is that it is not a mentoring programme in which the business partners are seen as having all the answers to the challenges that principals face in their schools. Instead PfP partnerships are co-action, co-learning and mutually-beneficial relationships in which the partners learn together and from each other. While business partners share their knowledge of leading teams and managing change with principals, they learn a great deal from the principals about leading in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments where the challenges are immense, the resources scarce, and the solutions by no means clear. The business partners also learn about the realities of life in South Africa’s marginalised communities and the schools that operate within them.

In addition to PfP, Symphonia also established the School Leadership Forum (SLF), another programme aimed at strengthening school leadership. In 2012, in partnership with the Universities of the Western Cape and Johannesburg, Symphonia launched the SLF programme to empower principals and other school leaders to deal with challenges in schools by providing them with practical solutions to the problems they face. The programme is sponsored by the Woolworths South Africa MySchool programme that supports effective education improvement initiatives. The SLF consists of a series of talks and panel discussions that take place approximately 6 weekly and are open to all school leaders who can attend the sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The events are recorded and broadcast on social media to extend the programme’s impact. Hundreds of school leaders and stakeholders have attended these events, often regularly, since the programme’s launch.

Outcomes of these actions

What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?

To date, 709 school principals, most of whom had received no previous leadership or management training, have joined PfP together with their business partners. More than 500 partnerships have completed the 12-month programme.

Outcomes for school principals include new awareness, knowledge and skills which have significantly strengthened their leadership and management capacityand thus their confidence. Specific changes in principals attitudes and practice include: having become better listeners, more open to new ideas, more relaxed and able to delegate, less threatened, more nurturing, better able to adapt to challenges, better organised, more assertive in expressing their expectations, more effective at facilitating stakeholder engagement and connecting stakeholders to their schools, and better able to manage people and resources.

As a result of principals’ increased confidence and improved leadership practice, school management teams have become more cohesive and are managing school resources and activities more effectively. Many schools have experienced improved teacher morale and motivation. Teachers have reported feeling a greater sense of ownership and empowerment over important school matters because principals are proactively involving them in decision making. Some schools have seen a reduction in teacher absenteeism, which has ultimately increased students exposure to learning opportunities at those schools.

The 2016 external evaluation by Dr Hartnack found that there had been improvements in academic in results in 30% of the schools that he visited and investigated in detail. It is worth noting that not all of the schools he visited were able to make academic outcome data available to Dr Hartnack. Moreover, as the PfP Theory of Change indicates, it can take up to five years for the effect of enhanced leadership capacity to result in improved academic outcomes and some of the schools examined in detail had only completed the programme one or two years prior to the evaluation.

The independent evaluation by Quest Research Services also found visible improvement in academic outcomes in 15 of the 20 PfP schools they examined in detail, even though the principals in these schools had only recently completed the programme. The 153 secondary schools whose principals have completed the PfP programme to date are performing better than the national average in respect of the percentage of students who graduate, particularly in those schools which serve the poorest communities. Furthermore, the number of students in PfP schools who drop out in their final year of secondary school is also lower than the national average.

The leadership skills of business partners have grown significantly through working with school principals in environments that are outside their comfort zones, where the challenges are huge, the resources scarce and where they have no authority. Crucially, the business partners, some of whom are high-profile individuals with considerable influence, are gaining real insight into the immense complexity, ambiguity and challenges faced by South African school principals and into the social issues that are driving some of the major dysfunction in South African society.

A key objective of the PfP programme is to capacitate principals to mobilise parental and community involvement and support for their schools. Most PfP schools have experienced an increase in involvement by parents in school activities and in some cases this has risen dramatically as a result of principals’ new skill and proactivity in engaging with them. Many more parents, and grandparents too, are now assisting schools in various ways, which include classroom support and working in school vegetable gardens and kitchens.

PfP is generating real nation building impact by providing participants with access and exposure to communities with whom they would not normally engage. In South African society, very few senior business leaders (represented largely by white men) normally spend time in the poor communities where principals (represented largely by black men and women) lead most of the country’s under-resourced schools. ‘I had direct exposure to communities that I would not normally have through my current social and business network’, said one business partner. In bringing together people across cultural, racial and gender boundaries, PfP is strengthening social cohesion in South Africa.

Measuring outcomes

How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?

A Monitoring and Evaluation Team led by Dr Magali von Blottnitz, uses a variety of mechanisms, on an ongoing basis, to identity, assess and report on changes (be they intended or unintended, positive or negative) that the PfP programme has generated. Mechanisms for internal evaluation of programme outcomes and impact include:

  • Surveys
  • Feedback provided by programme participants to their sponsors
  • Interviews with programme participants and other stakeholders
  • Reviews of participants Portfolios of Evidence
  • In-depth case studies of partnerships (based on site visits to schools and stakeholder interviews)
  • Presentations and videos created by participants for programme completion celebration events

The end-of-programme celebration events, for which partners create presentations and videos to share their experiences, are designed to create an opportunity for them to reflect together on their journey before sharing the highlights with key stakeholders in their lives. Rather than being a ‘bolt on’, these celebration events represent an accountability process that is built into the structure of the PfP programme.

Reports detailing the outcomes and impact of the programme are produced on a regular basis and made available to PfP participants, sponsors and other relevant stakeholders.

As the summary explains, numerous independent assessments of the effectiveness and impact of the PfP programme have been conducted. These include an external evaluation conducted in 2016 by Dr Hartnack of the Sustainable Livelihood Foundation. An independent evaluation of PfP’s impact by the University of South Africa is currently underway.

In addition to the measurable outcomes directly related to the programme, there is a widespread societal perception of the PfP programme being a highly effective way of bridging societal barriers and addressing the education crisis in South Africa. Both within and outside the country, the programme is recognised and quoted as being a social innovation that is both impactful and robust.

Key metrics

How many people have benefitted from your actions?

PfP in numbersThe reach of the PfP network extends far beyond the numbers of citizens actively engaged in partnerships and those that benefit directly from it. Tens of thousands of individuals and large numbers of organisations engage with the programme in order to make their contribution to education and actively follow the progress of PfP and Symphonia for South Africa.

Examples/case studies

What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?

Mary Kihn School for Hearing Impaired Children, Cape Town

Left: Business partner Whita Tunyiswa, Woolworths Financial Services
Right: Principal Jillian Wilmot, Mary Kihn School for Hearing Impaired Children

From the first day that Whita Tunyiswa visited the Mary Kihn School for Hearing Impaired Children when she joined PfP as partner to Principal Jillian Wilmot in 2015, she became acutely aware of her own ‘disability’, as she was unable to communicate with the children and some of the staff members. She decided to learn Sign Language in order to feel included in the unique environment of the school, but she soon discovered that this also enabled her to communicate with a number of work colleagues who also have hearing impairments.

Some of the outcomes for the school that have resulted from Whita and Jill’s partnership include:

  • An improvement in teamwork between Jill and her School Management Team
  • A shift in the school ethos as ‘appreciation days’ and ‘staff awards’ made the teachers feel valued and the experience of being really listened to encouraged them take ownership of the school
  • More actionable and effective management of the school’s planning processes
  • A strengthening of Jill’s negotiation skills, which have been productive in her relationships with various school stakeholders
  • More outreach to parents and the community, with weekly programmes for parents and organisations involved with hearing impaired children
  • A more committed School Governing Body which has organised a number of action days including a Sports Day and Family Fun Market Day with the involvement of other similar schools as well as local businesses and community members.

Nyavana Primary School, Xihoko Village, Limpopo Province

Left: Principal Juliet Shibulana, Nyavana Primary School
Right: Business partner Jan-Louis Pretorius, Director at Groep 91 (Agricultural Enterprise)

When she began her partnership with Jan-Louis Pretorius, Principal Shibulana made the following comment:

‘At the beginning it was a bit strange. It was the first time in my life that I had a white partner. According to me before, the whites had their own world and I have my own world. But we did overcome this. Now I regard him as my brother’.

Juliet acknowledges that she was initially attracted to the PfP programme by the prospect that she would acquire much-needed financial resources for her school. She soon realized, however, that the skills she could develop through PfP would be more valuable than money, remarking a few weeks into the programme that ‘nobody will take it away from me’.

The leadership skills that Juliet gained through working with Jan-Louis and from the PfP formal training enabled her to bring cohesion and ignite passion among the members of her School Management Team and School Governing Body.

Every participant in the school has grown’, Juliet says, adding: ‘before, I never thought that a vision has to be developed in a proper way. The one we had in our school was so long. I learnt that this mission and vision is not for the principal only, it is for the entire school community. Teachers, parents, learners. Everyone must know it, own it and activate it.”

After working alongside Juliet for a year, and having committed to keep their partnership active, Jan-Louis reflected:

‘In many ways she gave me hope and respect for the incredible work that principals do, the genuine desire that she has for making a difference in the lives of those children, and stepping on a path that changes the future of our country. In fact, it was not only Juliet, but the other principals in their own special ways. That inspiration put my own privilege and responsibility into perspective and gave me a purpose.”

Kholwani Primary School, Jabulani, Johannesburg

Left: Business partner Randal Wahl, Managing Director, Regent Lighting Solutions
Right: Principal Busisiwe Mbuyisa, Kholwani Primary School

Busisiwe explains how her participation in PfP has impacted her and the school:

‘Regent Lighting Solutions has supported our school with many infrastructure projects, especially around lighting in the classrooms as well as new ICT facilities for Grade 4.

However, the most significant impact of my participation in the PfP programme for our school is that the programme has created a family for us through our business partner. We are now able to share ideas through management and leadership skills. My business partner continues to assist us in managing our school as a business organisation, and we are trying to turn it into o huge success.

The whole Kholwani team has felt the impact: our meetings are more interesting and lively now, as everybody is treated as equal thinker. It has contributed much in shaping my creativity and leading my team beyond the walls of basic education. Teacher’s morale is very high, workshops such as interrelations, communication, how to appreciate one another, time management and project management have changed their behaviour and attitude. This has led to great improvement in the children’s performance.

We have also developed a website which serves as a communication tool with the outside community, and have held community building workshops with parents. After these, the parents and the community, as important stakeholders, have volunteered their services to assist our school to be developed better. We have witnessed people offering assistance in a way that has never happened before.’

Additional social benefits created

What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?

Through collaboration with Labournet South Africa, Symphonia helped to facilitate 12-month paid learnerships in administrative roles for unemployed young people at 52 PfP schools during 2017.  Labournet anticipates being able to place another 300 unemployed young people into PfP schools during 2018. These opportunities, which are sponsored by the business sector, are providing invaluable work experience and development, which will earn the young people a qualification, while also offering much-needed support to admin teams in schools.

Symphonia is currently offering a number of internships in its own team. One unemployed young person will join the M&E team in February 2018 and gain valuable work experience and training on the collection, analysis and reporting of outcome and impact information. Symphonia is also currently offering internships in its Finance and Marketing/Communications departments and excepts these offers to be taken up soon.

Symphonia’s CEO, Louise van Rhyn, established the Western Cape Education Coalition to bring together different groups of people who are working to improve education and create opportunities for people to get to know each other, to learn together, to share good practice and lessons learned, and to facilitate collaboration. The idea behind this coalition is to ‘cultivate the social field for collective impact’ so that citizens who are committed to quality education have opportunities to develop trusting and generative relationships that will empower them to work together in a more aligned and cohesive way to improve education. This coalition is being piloted in the Western Cape with a view to idea expanding it nationally in due course.

Louise has been working closely with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) on the conceptualisation of this Coalition and as a result, has been asked to lead the design team for the Western Cape Education Conference to be held in July 2018, with the intention that this will influence WCED’s 5-year strategic plan.  This and all of Louise’s work with the WCED is done on a pro-bono basis.

Creating social benefit beyond core activities

What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?

In addition to its core purpose of developing school leadership and helping to place schools at the centre of their communities, Symphonia contributes social value in a number of other ways, some, but not all of which occur through the PfP programme. Examples include:

The PfP multiplier effect – we have extensive evidence of the fact that through the PfP programme resources and support far in excess of the cost of the programme are mobilised around every participating school. The partnership focus upon each individual school creates a multiplier effect in terms of the resources which become accessible to schools. Examples of resources which have been made available in schools as a direct result of PfP include:

  • ICT equipment and training
  • Maths and Science programmes
  • Tutoring and mentorship programmes
  • Study skills programmes
  • Staff development and team building
  • Library establishment and stocking
  • Sports facilities, equipment and programmes
  • Bursary schemes
  • Career guidance
  • Assistance with water sustainability
  • Financial literacy training
  • Psycho-social support programmes
  • Social worker internships
  • School administration learnerships
  • Teacher supply
  • HR and legal support
  • Infrastructure development
  • School foreign exchange programmes
  • School vehicles, furniture and equipment
  • Volunteering
  • Support for school gardens and feeding schemes
  • Provision of internet connectivity

Through its strong presence on social and other media, and constant networking and information-sharing efforts, Symphonia plays an important advocacy role in inspiring South Africans to change their vision and their discourse about the country’s education crisis. We encourage people to become actively involved in efforts to improve education, rather than simply commenting on or complaining about the situation.

In February 2018 Symphonia hosted an event to introduce Capetonians to resources developed by Water for Cape Town. This event, which took place in a PfP school hall, was specifically aimed at mobilising young people to take action with regard to the Cape Town water crisis (caused by drought conditions) and developing their leadership skills.

In May 2018 Symphonia will be hosting an Ethics in Education workshop where school leaders and other key education stakeholders will have the opportunity to engage with members of the South African Ethics Institute. This will launch a Symphonia-Ethics Institute collaboration that is aimed at empowering school leaders with the requisite ethics awareness, skills and competencies to enable them to successfully navigate the challenges of ethics governance and leadership in the schools and communities.

The cost of attend the WISE summit and hosting the information-sharing events referred to here is approximately ZAR60,000 (£5,500).

Internal policies and actions

What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?

Members of the Symphonia staff team, who all participate in the training courses that are part of the PfP programme, frequently mention that these courses, in particular the Time to Think training (based on the work of Nancy Kline), have helped them enjoy healthier relationships with their life partners, children and others.

Have your say…

Please note the public vote has now closed.

The voting results will account for 50% of the final result, with the other 50% being decided by the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team and the independent Certification Panel. The winner will be announced at a drinks reception at our Spreading the Wealth conference in York on 6th June 2018.