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WISE100 launch

Lucy Findlay named among top women in social enterprise

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

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

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

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

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

 


* State of Social Enterprise 1027 report

Lucy Findlay

Podcast – A different way of doing business

In the latest interview released on Tony Loyd’s Social Entrepreneur podcast, Lucy Findlay talks about the development of the unique social enterprise accreditation offered by Social Enterprise Mark CIC, which provides accreditation for businesses that enhance the greater good.

“We recognize the type of business that is putting the money it makes back into society and the environment rather than using it for shareholder gain….our Mark helps them to prove that.”

Lucy also talks about her own route into social enterprise, from a land use and town planning background, through to the launch of the Social Enterprise Mark back in 2010, to now scaling the business up internationally.

“This is a movement that has spread around the world.”

You can hear the full interview on Tony Loyd’s Social Entrepreneur podcast, or via podcast apps including iTunes, Google Play, and SoundCloud.

Social Enterprise Gold Mark

Beyond certification – the Mark of a better business

Following the news in the summer that Sainsbury’s are replacing the established and trusted FAIRTRADE Mark with their own in-house certification scheme, there seems to be a general trend in this direction by big producers. Multinational giants Mondelez International (which owns Cadbury), Unilever, and Barry Callebaut (world’s biggest producer of chocolate and cocoa products) have all confirmed they are now using their own ethical standards, eschewing independent third party labels.

This is a worrying development. How do we know how rigorous standards are really being applied and assessed if they are not subjecting themselves to third party scrutiny? Multinationals and corporates make huge shareholder profits, and not to submit themselves to third party scrutiny seems to further reduce the accountability of their operations. As I wrote in my blog about the Sainsbury’s story back in July, we are concerned that this could also lead to erosion of consumer trust in any labelling schemes, which should ultimately exist to engender this trust, not damage it.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC has recognised that standards should not just provide openness and transparency, they should also challenge the business to become even better at what it does. This is why we now collect social value information on an ongoing basis, alongside developing the far more demanding Social Enterprise Gold Mark, which goes into much more depth around ethical practice in every area of the business, from procurement and sourcing to employee relations and governance.

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark was developed to provide a quality benchmark for social enterprises that can demonstrate excellence in key business areas, such as governance, business ethics, and social/environmental impact. As well as providing proof of a commitment to business excellence, it also acts as a business development tool – successful applicants receive an individually tailored action plan for continuous improvement, in line with Social Enterprise Gold Mark guidelines of best practice. Therefore, it is very much an ongoing development process, not just covering a snapshot in time at the point of assessment.

Given the high-profile scandals that have hit big brands such as Mondalez (formerly Kraft), which came under fire in 2011, when they closed a UK chocolate production factory following their takeover of Cadbury, there is a need for more businesses to submit to the scrutiny of external assessment with regards to their business practices and how they make and distribute their profits, and how they treat their workers.

At the time of the Cadbury takeover, Mondalez made assurances that production would remain in the UK and that the Somerdale factory would remain open. However, less than a week later an announcement was made that the factory would in fact be closed, at the cost of thousands of jobs.

In order to prove applicants’ businesses are excelling as genuinely socially responsible organisations, the assessment for the Gold Mark digs deeper to examine key aspects of the operations of a business. This includes looking at how they govern the organisation, employee engagement and terms of employment, as well as how income is used to create social and environmental impact.

Maybe this is the future of certification…. A visible and trusted identifier of those doing better business, in every aspect of their operations.

John Taylor Hospice Family Walk and Fun Day

Families set to step out together in support of hospice care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information or to register see the hospice website at www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk/fun or call the Fundraising Team on 0121 465 2000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#EnhanceSE programme

Enhance Social Enterprise programme of free workshops

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

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

See below for the Autumn Schedule of workshops:

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

Bookings can be made online via Eventbrite.

Charity Bank’s loan book exceeds £100 million

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

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

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

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

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

Elderpark Housing Association

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

Glossopdale Furniture Project

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

Hudswell Community Charity

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

YMCA Black Country Group

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

Stretham & Wilburton Community Land Trust

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

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

Charity fundraiser jumps at the chance to help Birmingham hospice

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

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

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

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

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

Kiran and her grandmother Enid Seeley_John Taylor Hospice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To show your support for Kiran visit her JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kiran-seeley

Social enterprise launches new eco-foaming hand wash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nursing recruitment day at John Taylor Hospice

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

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

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

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

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

For more information visit www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk, view the short film below, or email [email protected]

WISE100

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

Celebrating social enterprises ‘Making a Mark’

Following the success of the Making a Mark competition last year, which celebrated the vast impact that accredited social enterprises make through their diverse activities, we have decided to repeat the competition this year.

The competition highlights examples of how accredited social enterprises are creating considerable social impact within their local communities and in wider society and the environment. We shortlisted the below finalists from our network of Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark holders, based on the social impact statements and any relevant reports that were submitted at their most recent renewal.

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

In deciding the shortlist, we took account of how carefully Mark Holders have measured their social impact and can show how income has been used to maximise this, and also considered how succinctly they have described their achievements in this regard and what sort of story these tell about the kind of social enterprise they are.

The shortlist went to a public vote, in which over 300 votes were cast. These votes will account for 50% of the final result, with the vote of the independent Certification Panel accounting for the other 50%. The winner will be announced at a special reception at our annual conference (in Winchester) on 5th June 2017.

 

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

By Caroline Bartle, Managing Director of 3 Spirit UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visionary device scoops £20k award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote for your winner in Making a Mark competition

Following the success of the Making a Mark competition last year, which celebrated the vast impact that accredited social enterprises make through their diverse activities, we have decided to repeat the competition this year. The Making a Mark competition highlights examples of how accredited social enterprises are creating considerable social impact within their local communities and in wider society and the environment.

We are delighted to announce the below finalists, which we have shortlisted from our network of Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark holders, based on the social impact statements and any relevant reports that were submitted at their most recent renewal.

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

In deciding the shortlist, we have taken account of how carefully Mark Holders have measured their social impact and can show how income has been used to maximise this, and also considered how succinctly they have described their achievements in this regard and what sort of story these tell about the kind of social enterprise they are.

It is now your chance to have your say, as we open it up to a public vote, which will account for 50% of the final result, with the vote of the independent Certification Panel accounting for the other 50%. The winner will be announced at a special reception at our annual conference (in Winchester) on 5th June 2017.

Voting will close at midnight on Friday 5th May.

 

 

What challenges do social enterprises face?

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

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

There are 2 different questionnaires, dependent on your organisation:

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

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

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

For further information, please contact Rachel Brown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Midlands hospices spread the love this Valentine’s Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about how you can support the campaign or to find your local hospice visit www.loveyourlocalhospice.org.uk.

Celebrating 7 years of upholding the standard for social enterprise

On the  7th anniversary of the launch of the Social Enterprise Mark, I am reminded of how far we have come as a sector in that time, but also of how far we have to go in being truly recognised as competitive, sustainable businesses in the mainstream business world.

sem-homepage-buttonSince our inception back in 2010, Social Enterprise Mark CIC has endeavoured to ensure the social enterprise business model remains ethical, credible and commercial, through independent accreditation. As well as providing a single recognisable ‘identifier’ for genuine social enterprises, which are externally assessed against sector-agreed criteria, we work to promote the capabilities of social enterprises as a credible alternative to more traditional business models.

This is not easy by any means, especially when it comes to spreading the message to the public and consumers. However, there is clearly a shift change occurring in consumer attitudes towards the sustainability of brands and organisation, as seen in a recent study by consumer goods giant Unilever, which found more than a third of consumers now choose to buy from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good.

We are currently planning a new campaign, which will aim to encourage consumers to consider how they can be sure of the ethical/sustainable credentials of the organisations they buy from. By working with several high profile partners, we hope to spread the message to a much wider audience and to start a global conversation about how consumers can be sure brands are ‘walking the walk’ and not just ‘talking the talk’ when it comes to sustainability and their social purpose.

Another constant challenge is influencing government policy and embedding social enterprise within their mindset. I was interested to see PM Teresa May allude (albeit briefly) to her vision for an inclusive business strategy in the foreword of the government’s Green Paper on the Industrial Strategy: Building our Industrial Strategy. Although there was no direct reference to her recent Shared Society speech, the PM declared that the government wants to “move beyond short-term thinking to focus on the big decisions that will deliver long-term, sustainable success”.

As I wrote back in November in a post looking at the pressures faced by the public sector, tight financial constraints have been resulting in a rather short-term focus, where the bottom line has become of overriding importance, over and above what may be best for society in the long term. Social enterprises are rooted in their stakeholders and communities, and are therefore well placed to respond to the biggest issues facing society. They are set up to address a particular social issue or objective and this remains their driving, primary purpose for the long term – of course profitability is also important for the business to remain sustainable, but profits are used to serve the needs of social stakeholders and feeds back into their social objective.

As we begin our 8th year as the social enterprise accreditation authority, I am confident that we are moving in the right direction to achieving these goals, and look forward to what the next 8 years will bring.

Big Issue Invest Launches ‘Impact Loans England’ Programme

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

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

Impact Loans England GRAPHIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy Findlay

Is the Shared Society all ‘Motherhood and Apple Pie’?

Theresa May’s recent announcement of a ‘Shared Society’, after all the fuss about the Big Society when it was launched, has been greeted with a healthy degree of scepticism, but it is worth having a look at the finer detail and trains of thought that lie within the speech.  Much of it is ‘motherhood and apple pie’, but there are some key themes that chime with me, as she was talking directly about social enterprises (albeit in a limited context of social finance).

Firstly, she highlights the limits of the cult of the individual and how social enterprises help to break this down.  For me, this is a fundamental point about social enterprises.

Social enterprises aspire to be more than a single founder or entrepreneur, however charismatic and publicity hungry such individuals can be in driving the business forward. The most effective social enterprises are rooted in their stakeholders and communities. Conventional business may also be bigger than the individual who runs or sets them up, but social enterprises are set up to address a particular social issue or objective and this remains their driving, primary purpose for the long term; profitability remains important, but it serves the needs of social stakeholders above that of the whims of individual shareholders and their personal profit motivations.

Alongside this the PM also talked about how social enterprises (as well as charities) are not only dependent on the people involved, but also the trust which they engender in the way they work.  The Charity Commission and new Fundraising Regulator are working to help the government with this.  However this does not address the trust placed in social enterprises.  This is where the Social Enterprise Mark comes in – we externally assess social enterprise credentials as well as commitment to providing additional social value. The Mark acts as an independent guarantee that an organisation is trading for the primary benefit of people and the planet.

Lastly, social enterprises also often provide goods and services that address the needs of a whole community, not just the poorest, although they may have programmes that are targeted at or support those in the most need.  The fact that they are run as businesses (and as I touch upon above, must therefore be profitable) allows a cross- subsidy model and does not require grant funding, which tends to be more specifically targeted at the most marginalised.  Therefore you can legitimately argue that the social enterprise business model can help ‘the just about managing’.

Social justice – more than just a pipedream?

By Steve Hawkins, CEO of Pluss

PlussPluss has over 45 years experience of working with some of the most disadvantaged people in society. However, the fact is that today, we are working with many less severely disadvantaged people than we have done in the past.

This is absolutely not because the need has gone away, but as a result of the reduction in funding for these services, which has historically been provided locally.

The upcoming Building Better Opportunities contracts will provide a new range of support but these are not focussed in the way that, for example, local authority learning disability services have been in the past.  And whilst we welcome the focus of the Work and Health programme, it is clear that the programme is for people with a shorter-term into-work prognosis.

At the top level then, this situation is unfortunately at odds with the objective of increasing social justice in the short-term. Increasing social justice should be about addressing disadvantage, reducing inequality and widening opportunities for all people.

In terms of real life issues facing the people that we work with today, the nature of the economy in 2016 (typified by underemployment, zero hours contracts, minimum wage jobs) and the stresses on public services mean vulnerable people’s lives are often more fragile than they have ever been.

When talking about people who are disabled, it is always good to take a step back to reflect on who they actually are. They are not some “distant” group of people – the reality is that they are all of us. The fact is that well over 85% of people with disabilities have acquired them through the course of their lives as a result of illness or injury.

By definition, people with disabilities span the social and economic spectrums. As it stands, the help available from DWP contracted provision is primarily aimed just above the bottom of the demographic – ie. entry-level jobs. This leaves huge gaps at either end of the spectrum where people are not supported – an issue which has to be addressed.

The obvious fact is that this huge degree of diversity means that a one-size approach is never going to work. Halving the disability employment gap requires us to have an amalgam of support services ranging from pre-work, into work and effective retention strategies. All need to be delivered against the specific needs of the individual if lasting change is to be achieved.

Very often one of the major barriers which we see with those people who are more marginalised is the view that work is unattainable. This is often as a result of that message having been drummed into them over a lifetime by medical professionals, schools etc. This has to change, with recognition that employment is a health outcome being vitally important.

We know that at the macro level the labour market and people’s needs will change over time. Therefore it is critical that we have a range of integrated services which embeds local expertise so that it can flex to deliver what is needed on the ground now and for the changing needs of tomorrow.

So what does this mean for commissioning?

Quality, highly effective services are required to deliver lasting results and value for money for the exchequer. We must avoid the race to the bottom in commissioning to ensure that inexpensive just doesn’t end up being cheap.

  • We must retain a focus on in-work support to avoid churn and implement new retention strategies to avoid the bath tap analogy – as fast as we’re filling the labour market vacancies, it’s emptying out twice as quickly. This must take into account the numbers of people falling out of the work from professional, technical and managerial positions who have long careers behind them and who will choose not to access Jobcentre plus.
  • We need to find ways to support people who cannot access DWP provision to re-enter the labour market. It is vital that government finds ways of incentivising local authorities to retain employment services for people in receipt of adult social care who are unlikely to gain access in large numbers to the Work and Health Programme.
  • We need to bring on board others (such as NHS Confederation, CCGs, GP’s etc.) to support our efforts to make work a genuine and valuable health outcome for health stakeholders.
  • We need to build a presumption of employability in the eyes of commissioners for those unlikely to be accommodated by the Work  and Health Programme.

As well as increasing social justice for people because it’s the right thing to do, there is also a very clear economic argument. 

Landman Economics modelled the economic impact of a sustained increase in the rate of employment amongst disabled people between 2105 and 2030. They found that a rise of just five percentage points would lead to

  • An increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of £23 billion
  • A gain of £6 billion to the Exchequer

For Pluss, the argument for a return to the principles of “invest to save” in order to support effective local provision that operates alongside the DWP Work and Health Programme would seem clear.

As a sector, we need appropriate levels of funding to be available so that quality services are provided, thus ensuring that achieving social justice is more than just a pipe dream.

Global champion of standards for social enterprise

Further expansion of our international network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London Social Housing Furniture Revolution!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Ideas Organisation wins national social enterprise award

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social enterprise supply chain

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

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

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

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

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

Promoting true professionalism as a social enterprise

By Simon Ayers, CEO of TrustMark

trustmarkAs TrustMark nears a close on its 10th Anniversary year, we nostalgically look back on how we got to this point. This year we’ve been campaigning heavily to promote reputable tradespeople, and shone light into the daily activities of our ten TrustMark Ambassadors, all of whom excel in customer service, trading practices and standards of workmanship.

Our ambassadors have been involved in a range of activities this year to promote reputable traders. They started off by being featured in our anniversary report which you can download here. This looks at their business practices, ethos and how they stay true to their customers. We’re proud to work with them to change the industry stereotype and instil confidence in customers that by looking for the right indicators you can find truly professional tradespeople.

trustmark-infographicFirms have come a long way from the commonly branded ‘cowboy’ brush that they are still tarnished with. This year alone, we’ve seen a huge drive to change this unfair image. We released an infographic at the start of this year with some keys statistics on how much UK tradespeople contribute to the economy, which unveiled some astonishing figures. The repair, maintenance and improvement sector alone is worth £2.7 billion every year, so the work carried out by tradespeople has a huge impact on the UK economy.

We’re proud to call ourselves a Social Enterprise Mark Holder. We’ve held the Mark for five years already, so we understand how much value it adds to a business such as ours. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, we put the interests of our Registered Firms and their customers at the heart of our business, and having a symbol that recognises this is important as consumers know that we aren’t focused on purely commercial gains.

Naturally, we aim to stay competitive, but in a way that benefits society and the construction industry. To us, the Mark shows businesses we have their best interests at heart, and we’re not just another scheme trying to make money. Social Enterprise Mark CIC are committed to ensuring the social enterprise business model remains ethical, credible and commercial through accreditation.

SE_BRAND_APPROVED_RGBAll organisations awarded the Social Enterprise Mark accreditation have one key quality in common: their main aim is to use income and profits to benefit society, rather than individuals such as business owners or shareholders. As the only social enterprise accreditation that is internationally available, we see it as a distinctive sign of quality and reassurance to consumers. It is also re-assessed on an annual basis, to ensure businesses are maintaining a fair approach and keep consumer interests at the core of activity.

As a social enterprise, we don’t have a big marketing budget to play around with, so for TrustMark as an organisation we focus on spreading the word organically and adding value to our firms and their customers in any way we can in order to grow and stay competitive. Being a Social Enterprise Mark holder sends a message to firms that we are a professional organisation, and we feel that such affiliations attract the right sort of firms to become TrustMark registered. It’s important in this day and age to give a platform for quality, expert people to sell themselves with the recognition they deserve.

Within our big drive this year to promote professionals in the industry and add credibility to their businesses, we’ve set about a number of initiatives, to expand on the work with our Ambassadors and offer easier ways of staying professional to all of our Registered Firms.

One of the ways we looked to do this way by launching a new feedback system earlier this year to add value to traders on the TrustMark website. We see online reviews as a real sign of quality, and is obviously a great way for these firms to prove their worth to new customers who might not be familiar with their standards of workmanship. We try to encourage our firms to request reviews from all customers, even those that might have had some hiccups along the way. Reviews are often criticised for their inability to distinguish between real and fake, but with this new system in place, we are going the extra mile to ensure reviews are genuine. All customers leaving a review will have their review moderated by Referenceline to ensure they are genuine customers, and are not denied the right to leave a review by the firm.

We’re now looking to 2017 and how we can continue to add value to our Registered Firms so that they can pass this on to their customers. We’ll soon be launching a National Trading Standards Approval scheme – so this is something to look forward to seeing in the New Year!

Southville Community Development Association logo

SCDA get go ahead for new community centre and nursery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information please visit www.southvillecentre.org.uk

NatWest SE100 announce shortlist for Social Business Awards

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

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

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

Shaun Doran, FRC Group

Shaun Doran, FRC Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Column Bakehouse on a roll with landmark University deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy Findlay

Post truth and post authenticity?

I write this on a day when Donald Trump has been announced as President Elect of the USA.  There are many questions being asked and much soul searching for answers to them. Amongst others – are we in a post truth era or an era that wants to kick over the traces of corporate and institutional power that have bypassed them? One thing is for sure, it has been very difficult to see the truth from the myths and the authenticity of the message.

A lack of transparency and clarity from leaders and commentators regarding the business model has also been a feature of social enterprise too for as long as I can remember.  This has served a purpose; to pump-up the sector in terms of size and diversity without asking too many questions.  It has also served a small number of well-connected social enterprises that know and can milk the system, which has led to the development of opaque business models that have benefited from the patronage of government and support programmes, e.g. Social Impact Bonds and the advent of Social Investment.

se_brand_approved_rgbIt was partly for this reason that we set up the Social Enterprise Mark as a project 9 years ago, and 3 years later as a business in its own right.  We now have the longest pedigree and experience of social enterprise accreditation in the world and are indeed seen as leaders, with international academics and experts looking to us for our expertise in this field, e.g. British Council in China. Social enterprises outside the UK have also decided that they wish to accredit directly through our process, e.g. Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLOCERT). This proves that there is an appetite for being seen as different and being able to prove it credibly.

trustmark-logoWe can draw an analogy to TrustMark, a Social Enterprise Mark Holder, which evolved in response to concerns in the building sector. It is a government-endorsed accreditation scheme for trades in and around the home, providing reassurances that businesses must regularly stand up to scrutiny to.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC had an original mandate from our sector to provide a similar service in the UK, verifying businesses who are genuine social enterprises.

We have learned, from the experiences of Fair Trade, of the importance of having a status that could confer genuineness and authenticity.  At the time many different models were banded about, e.g. self-certification, CSR marks, membership bodies etc.  We were clear that certifying authenticity can only be achieved through independence (the certification panel) and with transparency (application of the criteria consistently). This is why we operate as an independent CIC and not a membership body.  Membership bodies depend upon and exist to promote the interests of their paying members, and through their sector – a potential conflict of interest.

We take our customers and accreditation very seriously and have built the value added to ensure that our accreditation does not stand still and is really clear to the outside world – for example, developing social value declarations to help demonstrate the commitment that all social enterprises should have to making a positive difference for people and planet, as well as the Social Enterprise Gold Mark as an indicator of business excellence.

The term “accreditation” may be used to distinguish a system of certification that actually seeks evidence in confirmation of an organisations credentials. The Social Enterprise Mark has always done this and we are challenge-stampcurrently working with international sustainability standards, established by ISEAL, to help align our Marks with best practice models of accreditation. Whenever you see the term “certified”, ISEAL encourage people to “challenge the label”; to consider a few critical questions that help determine what that certification is really worth.

In striving for the best practice in accreditation, we have been and will continue to consult Mark Holders (and the wider sector). Our aim is to continue to provide a certification process that offers genuinely credible accreditation, one that social enterprises can take pride in and learn to improve from the world over.

Real People HR shortlisted for Personnel Today Awards

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

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

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

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

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

Accredited social enterprises shortlisted for prestigious awards

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

Congratulations and best of luck to all the following organisations:

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

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

We are moving!

On Thursday 24th November 2016, Social Enterprise Mark CIC will moving into office space at the HQ Business Centre, managed by Social Enterprise Mark holder Millfields Trust.

Millfields-trust-1Millfields Trust provides a platform to enable small and medium sized business to grow and develop. The Trust was set up to enable local people to contribute and manage the regeneration of the Stonehouse neighbourhood in Plymouth. They do this by focusing on job creation and the development of business.

We are delighted to be joining the business community at Millfields, which includes Mark holder Iridescent Ideas.

lucy-and-rogerAs Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC explains: “We are really pleased to be moving to the Millfields Trust. Not only are they a long standing Social Enterprise Mark holder, but they are an important hub for social enterprise activity in the city, supporting the regeneration of Stonehouse in Plymouth.

“We look forward to meeting lots of like-minded people and making a whole set of new connections in the Millfields business community.”

Roger Pipe, Chief Executive at Millfields Trust echoes Lucy’s words: “We are delighted to welcome Social Enterprise Mark CIC to the Millfields tenant community. Having such a prestigious organisation with us helps lift the work of the Trust and the family of businesses it supports. We hope they have a long and happy stay”

The new address for all postal correspondence will be:

Unit 30 HQ Business Centre

237 Union Street

Plymouth PL1 3HQ

The helpline number will remain the same – 0345 504 6536.

Please note – we are likely to be unavailable for most of the day on 24th November, but will aim to respond to all calls and emails as soon as we possibly can after this time. Normal operations should commence by Monday 28th November.

Pioneering competition launched by Beacon Centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roots HR logo

Roots HR launch free HR advice line for NCVO members

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

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

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

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

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

John Taylor Hospice asks what hospice care means to you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlimited Potential shortlisted for Living Wage Champion Awards 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julie Hawker awarded Society of Leadership Fellow

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

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

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

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

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

John Taylor Hospice finalist in prestigious Birmingham awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on the hospice see www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk.

Fusion21 Wins CIPS Supply Management Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

University of Salford Enterprise team recognised for entrepreneurial support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growing consumer appetite for brands with social purpose

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

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

The key findings include:

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

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

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

Yes we can – how the NHS can lead the Disability Confident movement

By Social Enterprise Mark holder Pluss

If you haven’t seen it yet, you will soon. And when you do, it’ll blow you away.


It’s the ‘Superhumans’ trailer for Channel 4’s coverage of the 2016 Paralympics that comes hard on the heels of this summer’s Rio Olympic Games. Set to the Sammy Davis Jr. track ‘Yes I Can’ being stunningly performed by a band of disabled musicians, the three-minute film features world-class athletes as well as a rock climber with one arm and a rally driver who steers cars with his feet. It also shows people carrying out everyday tasks – a woman without arms efficiently changes her child’s nappy; another writes notes during a phone call while gripping her pen with her toes. Cut to a gloomy room where a careers officer is telling a young man with a disability, ‘No you can’t’. His message is swamped by a kaleidoscope of people who’ve been featured in the trailer who take it in turn to chorus ‘Yes I can’.

The message is a simple one – see the person; recognise ability; help it flourish because that way everyone benefits.

Within the NHS, it’s easy to think of disability in terms of us and them. In fact, one in three people have some form of disability or limiting condition. The reality is that disability is a part of everyone’s life whether this means friends, family or colleagues, and any of us can become disabled at any time. Disability is everyone’s business.

The Government recognised this recently when, as part of its Disability Confident campaign, it made a commitment to halve the UK’s disability employment gap. That’s the difference between the percentage of people with disabilities who are in work and that of the working age population as a whole. That difference is currently around 33%. To achieve this ambition – in other words to close the gap – will mean one million additional people with a disability or a health condition in work.

Pretty much everyone agrees that this would be a good thing – for the individuals themselves, for employers, for all of us. For NHS Trusts in particular, it makes sound business sense, not least because the NHS Confederation reports a huge problem in recruiting – especially to the 60% of its lower tier jobs. Trusts need talented and resourceful staff, but how best to bring them on board?

There’s a mountain of evidence that workers with a disability are at least, if not more, productive and reliable than their non-disabled colleagues. From Pluss’ experience, disabled employees also bring to work those can-do attributes that they’ve needed to develop in their everyday lives. And having a workforce that is representative of the people being supported by NHS Trusts can only help inspire recovering patients, and help Trusts better understand and respond to their patient base.

For this to happen, Trusts need to think creatively about recruitment if they are to tap into this pool of talent. Employment rates amongst people with a disability or health condition (that’s one in three of us, remember) are low because stubborn preconceptions stop us seeing beyond the disability; and because inflexible recruitment procedures can prevent that pool of people from showing Trusts how they could shine if they were given the chance.
There are some simple steps that Trusts can take to develop a more inclusive approach to recruitment, one that is flexible enough to include some innovative routes into employment for people with a range of disabilities and health conditions. Traditional recruitment procedures such as panel interviews and group sessions are one of the biggest barriers for people with complex disabilities. Working interviews or time limited work trials offer a far better opportunity to judge whether a person has the skills and capabilities to do a job really well. Job carving, with the help of an organisation like Pluss, can ensure a job fits a person’s unique set of skills. Longer term recruitment techniques including traineeships and internships such as Project SEARCH help people grow steadily into outstanding employees.

A yes we can willingness to make small adjustments in work pays dividends too. The changes a Trust might need to make to support dedicated disabled employees are frequently tiny and, almost always, those changes are worth the investment. The NHS is the most iconic health brand in the world. As an institution, it is uniquely placed to see the whole remarkable person, to recognise not what people can’t do but what they can. Showing innovation in how it recruits its workforce can put an NHS Trust where it should be – at the forefront of the Disability Confident movement, and be good for business too.

PlussIf your Trust isn’t sure about the best place to start, or how to build on the steps you’ve already taken, the Disability Confident campaign offers some really good ideas to raise awareness and challenge perceptions. And you can always talk to Pluss. We love hearing from employers and we’re always happy to help.

www.pluss.org.uk

 

Student Satisfaction at Social Enterprise Universities

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Lucy Findlay

How social enterprise can facilitate innovation in health and social care

I was recently interested to hear about an innovative new movement focused on collaboration between practitioners, businesses, and communities, to improve and support health and social care services.

WHISWorld Health Innovation Summit (WHIS) is a platform for everyone in the community to come together and share knowledge to deliver solutions for the benefit of all. There is no denying that our health and care services are under increasing pressure…. to cope with the demand, we need innovative solutions. WHIS believe that collaboration is key here and they propose that, by bringing patients, clinicians, managers, voluntary sector, education and businesses together, we can improve the future of health and care services for all of us.

WHIS was brought to our attention by Steve Turner of Mark holder Care Right Now CIC, who is working to bring WHIS to the South West. As Steve explains, “This is a forum for healthcare unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. It really involves patients and the public, across the world and shows the benefits of seeing healthcare as a social movement.”

I agree with Steve – WHIS is an exciting development, as it highlights on a global scale the opportunities available for innovation in health and social care. We have long recognised that the social enterprise business model offers many opportunities for delivering significant improvements in health and care services. By having a certain amount of freedom from the bureaucracy of the NHS, ‘spin-out’ social enterprises can deliver innovative services, which focus on meeting the needs of patients and communities, as well as the wider health and wellbeing economy.

IC24For example, Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder Integrated Care 24 (IC24) places an emphasis on new product and service innovation for an improved patient experience and reduced demand on other services. ‘mylittleone’ is a unique example of how they have utilised technology to meet patient needs; to promote bonding between mother and baby when a child is placed in neonatal care. A camera is placed above the infant’s cot with video streaming to a tablet that the mother can have wherever she is, which reduces stress and anxiety for them both.

JTH nursesThis is just one example. Over ¼ of our network of Social Enterprise Mark holders operate in the health and social care sector, providing a wide range of essential services, including urgent and out of hours healthcare, general practices, community healthcare, and family services and social care.

We are therefore always keen to support new ways of working in this sector, and we welcome WHIS as an arena for encouraging innovation through collaboration, both within the sector and across other business sectors.

With a growing and diverse network of providers in the sector gaining Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark accreditation, we are keen to encourage Mark holders to collaborate and share their knowledge and experiences, in the pursuit of continually improving the services offered. This is why we are working with a number of Mark holders to set up a specific health and care network, which will be facilitated and run by the organisations themselves, supported and promoted by Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

For some time now, I have been increasingly aware that social enterprise can offer a platform to enable health and care providers to deliver more for patients/service users, whilst strengthening their business and increasing social value. This viewpoint has recently been endorsed by a report from the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN), which highlighted the potential for charities and social enterprises to play an important role in future models of health and care. Indeed, SW AHSN has recently partnered with social investment organisation Resonance to launch a £5million fund to support social sector organisations to develop innovative, person-centred health and care solutions.

With local authorities and commissioners now being encouraged and incentivised to consider bids on the social value they will create, rather than on pure cost, this presents an opportunity for social enterprises to stand out as proven creators of social value. Following The Public Services (Social Value) Act coming into force in 2013, health, social care and public services providers have been under increasing pressure to prove that they are creating social value. By becoming an accredited social enterprise with the Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark, health and care providers can prove they operate with the central aim of using income and profits to maximise their positive social impact.

It is encouraging to see the momentum the WHIS movement has gained already, and we are excited to be in discussions with Steve Turner at Care Right Now CIC about supporting the proposed WHIS Cornwall network.

To find out more about WHIS visit: http://www.worldhealthinnovationsummit.com/.

CQC Praises John Taylor Hospice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hospice CEO Penny Venables welcomed the inspection and the report:

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

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

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

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

The full report can be found on the CQC website.

Response to Big Lottery Fund Consultation

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

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

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

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

BLF should not:

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

BLF should:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Enterprise

NatWest SE100 Business Awards 2016/17

SE100 AwardsWANTED: Bosses on a mission!

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to enter the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards

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

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

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

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

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

 

Working in partnership with Social Enterprise Mark holders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pluss wins ERSA ‘Disability and Health’ Award

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

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

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

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

Health in our community and how we can work together

By Gareth Presch, Founder of World Health Innovation Summit

We now have the tools and the will to inspire, innovate and share knowledge to support our health services. World Health Innovation Summit provides that space for innovation and knowledge exchange to take place so all sectors of society benefit.

Problem: Our health services are under immense pressure with demand rising. Staff morale, recruitment, retention, patient safety and overall pressures are seeing the current health services stretched to breaking point.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.14.18

Solution: World Health Innovation Summit (WHIS) provides an innovative and unique global opportunity to bring people together. WHIS is about inspiring, innovating and sharing knowledge to improve and support healthcare services. It’s a platform for everyone in the community to come together and share their knowledge so we all benefit. Every sector is touched by health, and WHIS allows us all to contribute in a constructive manner and deliver solutions that benefit us all and most importantly while doing so it creates huge economic opportunities.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.14.47

Unique and Innovative – Previously we only had patients and clinicians discuss how we solve or improve our health problems. However, health touches everyone and every sector and WHIS provides the platform for all sectors to get involved (Patients, Clinicians, Voluntary Sector, Education and Businesses) so everyone benefits.

Our #WHISCumbria16 summit, which was held in the City of Carlisle, attracted over 300 people and we had a staggering 23.7 million twitter impressions around the World (#WHISCumbria16). This exposure and promotion for the City and region was unprecedented. The value to the City over the 2 days was estimated at £40,000 and we estimate that economically WHIS has brought in excess of £100,000 over the last few months through our various activities.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.14.57

To put the WHIS reach into context, we have had enquiries now from over 10 different locations around the World, proposing to host a WHIS summit. WHIS has reached over 100 countries and continues to grow. We’ve just signed a partnership with a top digital health influencer, Salus Digital, that gives us the opportunity to share our vision with key stakeholders in the digital sector.

The WHIS model is a community led initiative that supports existing health care provision while looking at prevention (WHISKids, WHISatwork etc).

An example of the local impact – A father of two disabled children attended WHISCumbria and. based on the knowledge exchanged, he set up a peer support group for other fathers of disabled children. This has a direct impact on alleviating pressure on the local health economy. It means those fathers don’t have to go to their GP’s for support, and also has a significant impact on their quality of life, which in turn results in improvements to the family’s well-being.

From a global perspective, a similar support group was established on the back of WHIS Cumbria – Global Villages for Mental Health – a twitter account set up to support people with mental health problems.

These are just two examples that are innovative and were born as a direct result of the WHIS Cumbria event.

Audience – 80% of our Twitter following are health professionals and decision makers. It’s very evident by the speakers we attracted to WHIS Cumbria that key stakeholders support our ethos and work.

With increasing population growth expected over the next 30 years, it is imperative that we look at how we communicate with the wider public on a local, national and international level around health. Education and knowledge exchange will play an important role as our current health services are stretched. The World Health Innovation Summit platform for knowledge exchange and preventative programmes will play a key role in how public engagement and support of our health services develop around the World.

For example, in six months we’ve seen WHISKids grow from a pilot project to being in 8 schools, with 10 more schools interested. These programmes look to support children with health & wellness and we use a mental health app, the My Way Code, as part of the programme. Results have been significant, with children reporting that it is fun and interesting while also educational.

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The World Health Innovation Summit is a social enterprise and set up to support communities in a unique way. Our profits after costs go back to local communities. Income generated from our activities will be re-invested into local projects.

The WHIS model is aligned to social good and therefore businesses aligning themselves via partnerships with WHIS will see a return (CSR), based on supporting a health initiative that improves health and social care not just locally and nationally but also internationally.

We are unique and innovative in that nobody has ever done anything along these lines before.

To draw a comparison, we can look at Websummit (technology based summit), who saw growth from 400-42,000 in 5 years. WHIS, by comparison, focuses on health and social care as well as technology, so we expect growth to be similar or in excess of this.

WHIS
Communities are supporting our activities and now we are seeking to partner with companies and agencies with the same values that are aligned to improving our community’s health care while sharing knowledge.

*If you have an idea that can help our health services or community contact us on [email protected]


 

This post originally appeared on the WHIS blog on 15th July 2016: http://www.worldhealthinnovationsummit.com/blog/2016/07/15/health-in-our-community-and-how-we-can-work-together-gareth-presch/

 

Is Social Sector Data Driven? Or Data Driven Mad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy Findlay

Services/products you wouldn’t expect to be delivered by social enterprises

During my 15 odd years working in the social enterprise sector, I have been asked countless times to explain what a social enterprise is. Like many others in the sector I am sure, I tend to wheel out the same well-known examples, such as Big Issue and Age UK, to illustrate the concept of social enterprise. Using these ‘mainstream’ big name examples does help to get people’s heads around the idea of social enterprise, although I often think of the many organisations operating across the country (and internationally for that matter), that fit the bill but do not have the label. That is, they want to make a profit but commit to reinvesting this to create benefits for people and the planet. These businesses operate in almost every industry, and I am sure many people would be surprised at the wide range of products and services delivered by social enterprises.

Using examples from our network of Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark accredited organisations, I have listed below a handful of the products and services that you probably didn’t realise were delivered by social enterprises.

 


Bed-iconAccommodation and conference facilities

It’s a service that we all use at some point, either in a personal or professional capacity, but many would not readily consider that hotels and conference venues would offer much in terms of creating social value.

The WesleyHowever, take the Wesley Hotel for example – the only hotel to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark and the first ethical hotel in the UK. The Wesley is committed to sustainable operations and social responsibility, which underpins everything they do, from procurement to waste management, and from water usage to employment practices.

A distinct example of how they create social value is the Hilda Porter Bursary Fund, which provides funding for marginalised students and young people in the UK and developing world, who do not have the means to study at higher education level.

 


Dollar-iconBanking and finance

With the negative press frequently associated with the banking and finance sector, it may be surprising to learn that there are a growing number of ethical banks and financiers, including Charity Bank – a bank entirely owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations.

Charity-BankCharity Bank was founded to support charities with loans that they couldn’t find elsewhere and to show people how their savings could be invested ethically and in ways that would make them happy. Their community of borrowers, savers, shareholders and staff are all working towards one goal – helping to create lasting social change in communities. Loans are provided to organisations to further their social missions, and borrowers are assessed on both immediate benefits for their beneficiaries, and longer term benefits for the borrower themselves.

 


Degree-iconHigher Education

Higher Education is not the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they think of social enterprises, especially given the modern cost of studying for a degree. However, we have noticed a growing in interest social enterprise from the Higher Education sector, and there are now 5 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) which have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark or Social Enterprise Gold Mark in recognition of their commitment to creating positive social and economic change:

More than ever before, HEIs are placing civic engagement, social and environmental justice, and sustainable economic development at the heart of their strategic plans and student experience, and each of the above institutions have demonstrated a commitment to these values, putting sustainable and ethical business practices at the heart of their strategic direction.

 


Browser-iconIT and digital services

Again, these services may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of services provided by social enterprises, but there are organisations in the IT industry that place an emphasis on operating ethically and creating social impact.

CosmicCosmic is one such example; an ethical digital agency specialising in website development, IT training courses, business consultancy, tech support, digital marketing and search engine optimisation. They were the very first organisation to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark back in 2010, and have a key objective of improving digital inclusion – providing IT support for people and organisations who need it the most.

They are continually involved in a range of projects which achieve meaningful impact for individuals and organisations across the South West and use their own resources to develop and deliver project work benefiting thousands of people.

 


Pen-iconOffice supplies

It’s not just services that are delivered by social enterprises – there are many retail businesses that operate in competitive commercial markets, whilst maintaining a commitment to social and/or environmental objectives.

Supply ShackAn interesting example of a non-conventional social enterprise is Supply Shack – a group of sub-divisions selling office supplies, furniture, promotional gifts, signs, as well as design and print services.

They have a strong social mission; their primary objective is to drive social change. They achieve this through their unique ‘giving back to the community model’, whereby they offer an extensive range of products and services at competitive rates, the majority of profits from which are reinvested into the community with a focus on making a difference to people’s lives. Each year their customers vote for the community projects and charities that Supply Shack will support. They also engage with charities and apprenticeship schemes to offer employment opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

 


This is just a handful of examples, you can find many more in our online directory of accredited social enterprises. I urge you to look out for the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark badges as a sign of social enterprise credibility – all organisations that we accredit are guaranteed to be operating with the primary motivation of creating benefits for people and the planet.

New Look Marks

Recognising excellence in social enterprise

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

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

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

  • Governance
  • Business ethics
  • Financial transparency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Taylor Hospice shortlisted in national business awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Free loan webinar for charities and social enterprises

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

The webinar will cover:

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

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

Charity Bank webinarSign up now

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

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

Speakers

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

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

 


 

About Charity Bank

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

 

 

Social Enterprise Mark holders working together to add social value

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

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

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

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

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

Help & Care named Making a Mark competition winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fusion21 Shortlisted in CIPS Supply Management Awards 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Media Programme for Vulnerable Adults Living in Woolwich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fusion21 Invests £200,000 in Big Issue Invest Scheme

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

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

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

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

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

Fusion21 Hospice Quality Partnership

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

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

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

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

All hands on deck for Dementia Awareness

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

Jaguar_Landrover_volunteers_-_web_detail

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

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

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

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

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

To make a donation, or for more information on John Taylor Hospice’s current and upcoming campaigns, click here: https://www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk/get-involved

Pluss named as ‘Building Better Opportunities’ lead partner

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

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

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

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

Pluss is currently a prime provider of services for the Department for Work and Pensions and aims to build its impact across South West England and West Yorkshire aligned to devolution.

Pluss Chief Executive, Steve Hawkins, said “Pluss is aiming to be the provider of choice to support thousands of disadvantaged people across the South West, West Yorkshire and neighbouring regions into sustainable employment.”

“Working with the Big Lottery Fund is a proud moment for Pluss and our partners. This result confirms that our partnership approach has the potential to deliver significant positive social change at a time when devolution means local areas are taking on more responsibilities for their own future.”

Successful outcomes at stage two will see delivery of these programmes begin in early 2017.

For more information please contact Geraldine Scott-Smith, Communications Manager, on 07766 367267 or via email.

Liverpool Social Economy Panel welcomes Minister for Civil Society

Social Enterprise Network (SEN) recently welcomed Rob Wilson MP, the Minister for Civil Society, to address its new Social Economy Panel in Liverpool, on Thursday 12th May.

Leading figures in the local social economy, including representatives from the Heseltine Institute, Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 and others, met with Rob Wilson MP, to discuss the growing social and community enterprise sector in the City Region – and how this can be developed and sustained for the future.

SEN LiverpoolSEN has led the way on social economy issues in the region in recent years, and in the last 12 months has launched its Masterclass programme of business advice for social entrepreneurs, in addition to the Liverpool Soup project to fund new social projects. Its new Social Economy Panel will be meeting regularly to work on new initiatives for the region, whilst also promoting the brilliant work being done by social enterprises locally.

Rosie Jolly, Chief Executive of SEN, said: “It was great to welcome the Minister for Civil Society to the city to see first-hand some of the work that our members are doing, and to discuss with the panel of practitioners some ways of improving and expanding their service provision. Our members and associates are working hard to improve lives and it is fantastic to see government taking more of an interest in the work they do.”

While in Liverpool, Rob Wilson MP took the opportunity to promote the Cabinet Office’s current call for evidence on mission-led businesses. The Social Economy Panel is making a joint submission to the call for evidence, and is keen to ensure that the mission-led business review is an opportunity to help the social enterprise sector in Liverpool and beyond.

Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21, said: “As a national social enterprise, Fusion21 is committed to supporting the creation of social value within Liverpool and across the UK – this can range from tackling worklessness, to supporting apprenticeships, or reducing reoffending.”

“We work closely with the Social Economy Panel to develop and share innovation in social value policy and practice – and meeting Rob Wilson MP was a fantastic opportunity to showcase what is being achieved by ourselves, and other organisations within the city.”

Responses to the Cabinet Office’s Call for Evidence can be made at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mission-led-business-review-call-for-evidence-opens-and-expert-panel-members-named

 


Social Enterprise Network supports the development and growth of social entrepreneurship across the north west of England and north Wales, raising both levels of engagement and trading ability of social enterprise businesses to enhance their economic viability, sustainability, social and environmental impact and contribution to the local economy. For more information, please visit http://www.sentogether.net/

 

Mind the gap…

…The step change needed to halve the disability employment gap

By Steve Hawkins, CEO of Pluss

First the good news, then the maths.

The good news is the government’s unequivocal commitment to halving the disability employment gap.

Now the maths.

The disability employment gap currently stands at around 43 percentage points. To halve the gap means moving around 1.2 million more disabled people in work. In the last five years, the number of disabled people in work has risen by just 23,000. Halving the gap also means keeping people in work. According to the ONS, over 400,000 disabled people each year lose their job and fall into unemployment or inactivity. One in six of those who become disabled while in work lose their employment during the first year after becoming disabled.

What’s more, the challenge is increasing. The ONS predicts that by 2020, over a third of the workforce will be over fifty, and more than half of the over-50s workforce will have a disability or impairment. Like all really effective aspirational statements, the government’s pledge sets an almost unachievable goal. Almost, but not quite. It raises the bar. It demands that we think differently, that we make some brave choices.

Like President Kennedy’s pledge in 1961 that Americans would land on the Moon by the end of the decade, the idea of halving the disability employment gap is do-able because, perhaps naively, we can imagine a world in which it is possible. Many people believed that a Moon landing was possible, but not all of them understood the level of commitment, resilience and willingness to innovate that was needed to realise the goal in 1969. I believe we can, if we choose, get a million more people with disabilities into work and, importantly, keep most of them there – but not without an almost unimaginable level of commitment, resilience and willingness to innovate on the part of government and the partners it chooses to work with.

As the flagship initiative to deliver the government’s pledge, the challenge for the Work and Health Programme is that, for a majority of its customers, `any job` won’t be good enough, and for many a job start will, at most, represent only half of the journey. We’ll need to have primes in place who understand the critical nature of specialists in delivering outcomes on the programme, who can build and contract manage a team of specialists with local credentials and partnerships that are integrated with local health systems, in particular mental health, to support the journey back to work.

At £130 million a year, the Work and Health Programme will have around 20% of the combined resources of Work Programme and Work Choice, and will help upwards of perhaps 10,000 people a year to enter the workplace. It will set an important tone. But to reduce the disability employment gap by any significant measure will require a step change across half a dozen complementary areas of work.

  • First, government should explore ways of developing a robust retention service that meets the needs of both employers and disabled employees in a much more proactive way than the Fit for Work Service and Access to Work provision is currently able to do.
  • Second, we should ensure that the strategic and commissioning weight of LEPs, City Deals and Growth Plans are used in a co-ordinated way to maximise the opportunities of disabled people to enter local labour markets.
  • Third, I endorse the calls of a number of organisations for Government to explore the potential for ‘disability leave’ as a way of more constructively managing the fluctuating conditions of some employees. 40% of all employed disabled people say that modified hours have enabled them to stay in work; 36% of those out of work say that modified hours could have helped them retain their job.
  • Fourth, we need to find ways to support people who cannot access DWP provision to re-enter the labour market. Providing employment support is not a statutory requirement for local authorities or CCGs The four DWP mental health and employment pilots about to commence are welcome, but they take place against a background of dwindling funding for locally commissioned supported employment programmes, making it vital that government finds ways of incentivising local authorities to retain employment services for people in receipt of adult social care who are unlikely to gain access in large numbers to a capped Work and Health Programme.
  • Fifth, a significant percentage of disabled people falling out of the workforce are from professional, technical and managerial positions with acquired disabilities and health conditions who have long careers behind them and who will choose not to access JCP. Government and other stakeholders should urgently explore the potential for an intervention designed to support this cohort of people to rapidly re-enter the workforce.
  • Sixth, we need to get to grips with the transitions agenda, finding ways to help talented young people with learning disabilities and hidden impairments onto apprenticeship routes and supported internship programmes as part of a national unified drive to ensure that every young person with a disability who wants to transition into work can do so.

Finally, we need a step change in the way employers are engaged and supported to be part of the solution. We need to build on the Disability Confident initiative – from a promising PR campaign driven by committed providers and seventy active employers into a national movement which is identifiably driving the agenda, holding to account and championing innovation across each part of the plan.

Achieving remarkable things isn’t easy. We shouldn’t pretend this is a quick fix, or that more and more can magically be achieved with fewer and fewer resources. But a challenge has been set. Now we need some brave decisions that will move us from a visionary slogan to a detailed roadmap.

Please click here to read Pluss’ full submission to the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into halving the disability employment gap.

 


PlussSquare_400x400Pluss is an accredited social enterprise with the Social Enterprise Mark. This means that Pluss has proved it is genuine against independently-assessed criteria for social enterprise. The Social Enterprise Mark provides assurance that profits are used to help disabled people gain opportunities to work, acting as a guarantee that Pluss is trading for people and planet.

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Join John Taylor Hospice for Dying Matters Awareness Week

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice has joined with a group of other local hospices, doctors, hospitals, charities, arts organisations and businesses to hold events across Birmingham during Dying Matters Awareness Week (9th – 15th May). The hospice is asking local people to share their hopes and dreams on ‘Before I die’ walls.

The group, BrumYODO (a local take on the Dying Matters slogan you only die once), is hoping the events will encourage conversation around death, dying and bereavement.

BrumYODO_Press release_photo

The John Taylor Hospice team will be in Erdington Library on Monday 9th May between 9.30am-4.30pm and Erdington High Street on Wednesday 11th May between 10am-12pm, where everyone is invited to add their ambitions to the ‘Before I die’ walls. BrumYODO is hosting other events around the city including storytelling, talks, a death disco, arts and crafts and daily death cafes.

During the week, John Taylor Hospice is holding a Death Cafe at its Moments Café at Holloway Circus in Birmingham city centre. The Death Cafe, on Thursday 12th May between 10am-12pm, is open to anyone who wants to join the conversation. Subjects can include favourite funeral tunes, how to talk honestly with your loved ones and choices at end of life. Places are free but are limited by numbers so need to be booked here. Visitors to Moments will also be able to add their thoughts to the ‘Before I die’ wall which will be in the café on Thursday May 12th and Friday 13th May.

The BrumYODO group will be in Fletchers Bar in Kings Heath each afternoon during Dying Matters Week with a host of stands covering areas such as funeral planning, will writing and coffin decorating.

The hospice will also be holding mindfulness practice and Benjamin’s Brothers prostate cancer awareness sessions at Fletchers Bar on Tuesday 10th May and Wednesday 11th May, and hospice staff will be joining other health professionals for an awareness day at Heartlands Hospital on Friday 13th May.

John Taylor Hospice CEO Penny Venables said: “Talking about death and dying helps to remove some of the fear and uncertainty. If you know the choices made by your loved ones, it can help when you are being asked to make difficult decisions.

BrumYODO and Dying Matters Week are all about encouraging these conversations. We hope as many people as possible will contribute to our ‘Before I Die’ walls and will join us for our Death Café. If you can’t make these events, there are plenty more being arranged by BrumYODO during the week so please check the website for full details.”

For more on John Taylor Hospice visit www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk and for details on all BrumYODO events visit bit.ly/brumyodo

Social Enterprise

NatWest SE100 launches Social Business Club

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

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

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

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

The NatWest SE100 Social Business Club offers:

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

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

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

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

Lucy Findlay

Cash cows and money milking

The public and press have short memories. Today and over the last few weeks there has been flurry of scandal and comment about corporate greed. Even the right wing press are shouting about how BHS has been asset stripped, leaving a huge pensions hole. From offshore accounts and tax evasion, to BP paying a huge bonus to their CEO (despite huge losses being made by the company), the prevailing behaviour seems to be keep milking as much shareholder profit out, pay very little tax and forget thinking or caring about the consequences and who it affects.

A magnifying glass is held up to this sort of behaviour whilst it’s top of the news agenda, but it soon goes back to business as usual. There is no consistency in reporting either. One day there will be exposure of corporate greed in delivery of public services and the next day that company will be telling the business pages what a great job it does in valuing its employees and customers – maybe the figurehead head becomes another government ‘business czar’ – and getting CSR awards to boot?!

It doesn’t have to be like this though. If social enterprise was seen as a viable alternative, not just a niche, do-gooding, market failure option then perhaps we would get somewhere! Instead we forever seem to be hidebound by the current business orthodoxy of business schools the world over; ‘business is there to make money for its shareholders’.

This is why we get into problems with arguments about lack of investment too. The orthodoxy is that it’s hard to expand unless you can attract equity providers. However, as a famous local business person told me, ‘this is the equivalent of selling the family silver’. It means that you are at the behest of the equity stakeholders and even if they own a small proportion they are likely to influence in a purely commercial direction as their role is one of primarily making money. The wider social value of the business comes second.

What we need is a radically different business model that is seen as mainstream, not marginal. I don’t think that this is Corporate Social Responsibility. Rather it’s about truly putting people first. The old co-operatives of the last century were the centre of their community, because they were owned by the people that lived there. They were first and foremost about serving the locality, not making a fast buck and running.

There are those out there that share this ideal and business model that are not just niche; they are a substantial part of the economy. Universities, colleges, theatres, arts groups, membership bodies, sports clubs, unions – they all have a strong social mission but operate in many cases as businesses. They are our allies and we should be working together more closely to present a vision of what we want business to look like, not what business dictates to us.

Our conference in June, entitled ‘Standing up to Scrutiny’ will look in more detail at how we can work together to promote social enterprise as a credible and sustainable business model for the future. We will discuss the importance of accreditation and standards systems, and how these can help social enterprises to measure, demonstrate, and report on their social impact. Please click here for more information and to book your ticket.

Conference_speakers

Global champion of standards for social enterprise

Influencing the international destiny of social enterprise

By Richard Cobbett, Assessment and Compliance Manager

British CouncilLast month I had the great privilege of visiting Beijing, China, where I had been invited by the British Council to talk about the development of the Social Enterprise Mark certification process.

As well as the Council, I met with several key academics, including Professors Yuan Ruijun, Zhang Yanlong, Meng Zhao and Zhiyong Chen, from the Universities of Peking and Renmin and Ruixue Zhang from the China Philanthropy Research Institute (CPRI). As a group, they are striving to establish a clear definition for social enterprise in China, with a view to then developing their own infrastructure for certification. Through this they aim to encourage the development of social enterprise and influence the conditions in which it can flourish.

The term “place of contrasts” is somewhat of a travel cliché but could certainly be applied to my short time experiencing Beijing, and also visiting other locations in China as a tourist. I wonder though, do indigenous populations recognise this about the countries they live in or simply accept everything as part of a greater whole? As I was to discover, this provided a metaphor for the social business landscape in China, as they continue to explore questions of social enterprise differentiation.

On my arrival, I had a short time to recharge, although jetlag was yet to seriously take hold. Over the next few days though, this and the inevitable language barriers found me more than once recalling Bill Murray and the film “Lost in Translation”, which suddenly took on a whole new level of meaning for me!

Richard in ChinaI initially met with Hou Peng and Jack Yu from the British Council, along with Ruixue Zhang (CPRI) for an early dinner as part of a general welcome. I was to find that mealtimes always raised a few polite smiles as people observed me honing my chopstick skills but I like to think that by the end my stay I had got quite proficient at it!

The following day I met with the University Professors and CPRI representatives, who have done extensive research into different systems of social business certification from across the world. I talked about the development of the Mark, the rationale behind the criteria and workings of our assessment process.

We drilled down into these matters in detail, provoking lively debate amongst the group concerning how far the Mark could be applied in China, and the potential barriers and challenges posed. It was a fairly intensive interaction – quite a baptism of fire for me and one that certainly kept me engaged as the jet lag slowly kicked in! I made it through the day, stubbornly refusing the offer of a knife and fork at lunchtime (and not going as hungry as I did the previous day)!

The following day I contributed to a workshop lead by my Chinese colleagues involving delegates from across China – people either supporting, running or working in social businesses. The workshop provided a forum for people to discuss social business certification and the relevance of this for China. It was a long and fascinating day, placing several of the questions raised during my first day within the real life contexts of organisations who see themselves as prospective social enterprises. Those in attendance included business entrepreneurs, organisations we might label “social firms”, charitable and community businesses, as well as ones that would more immediately conform to our stricter definition of social enterprise. There was also an agency present who were administering a regional pilot certification initiative and an organisation that had achieved it. This follows very similar criteria to that of the Mark and both organisations spoke positively about the process: the value they perceive in differentiation but also in how it has encouraged them to think more carefully about their purpose, how they work, and the social value they are creating.

Richard in China_workshopAs the mix of delegates suggests, those who might describe themselves as a “social enterprise” in China include all manner of businesses laying claim to social purpose through what they do and/or how they operate. This and other challenges for certification that revealed themselves across the day included familiar ones. Views ranged from those who are suspicious of the need for standardisation if they can simply show their social value; to those who see it as a means of improvement, by clearly aligning themselves with certain core principles and gaining recognition for these credentials. More uniquely to China perhaps, their varied terrain also includes distinct local economic and cultural differences, which pose other difficulties for standardisation.

The potential cost and benefits of delivering robust certification understandably lay at the heart of many questions and this revealed similarities to what our MD Lucy Findlay, found when she visited Taiwan last year. At the moment, there are a mixed bag of interests and all want to know how certification may lead to social investment or legislative advantages. But throughout the day, it was interesting for me to observe how many of the questions being posed were ones echoing our own experience of developing the Mark. As discussions unfolded though, I found myself quite deliberately taking a back seat. This wasn’t me succumbing to jet-lag or the audial acrobatics of simultaneous translation! It was satisfying to see answers to different concerns or objections being identified from within the room, instead of there being a reliance on so-called “experts” to provide these. Whilst it was inspiring to see how we may be helping to influence the destiny of social enterprise in China, to see people on different sides of the debate contributing so keenly and taking such ownership was much more so.

Questions around our profit distribution criterion possibly generated the most interest. I have to admit to being a little bit surprised when one delegate suggested that it went against human nature and the desire to achieve personal profit. But it was a reminder that China has come a long way in developing capitalist sensibilities. The obvious answer perhaps was “it depends on how you measure your sense of profit”, but it serves as a recognition that social business comes in various forms. As I said at the outset: China is a nation of contrasts and their social business landscape is made up of different interests. In this they are no different to anywhere else. There is room in the world for any business seeking to make a positive social difference, and they are all to be commended for it where they do.

Richard in China_workshop2In my closing address, I recognised this point and attempted to answer the question – why differentiate social enterprise? I explained how several years ago in the UK we asked the same question, and the Mark was born. We did this because the social enterprise sector believed itself to be a distinct form of social business that is committed to maximising social outcomes through how profits are invested towards these. Of two businesses delivering exactly the same service and same standards, the one committed to investing income/profits in social outputs will always exceed the potential for social impact, compared to the other that exists to generate profits for shareholders. Maybe this is an oversimplification but it helps crystallise why differentiating social enterprise from other forms of social business is relevant. And certification or accreditation should ultimately provide a means through which genuine social enterprises show how they willingly hold themselves up to scrutiny against this differentiator.

I finally reflected on how accreditation essentially represents a form of regulation – a dirty word for many, but in considering this I asked people to cast their minds back several years ago. To recall a rapacious sector, one resistant to regulation in the belief that it placed a burden on their capabilities, restricting their potential for success and any associated benefits for the economy and wider society. The results of this arrogance, of being above and beyond scrutiny are well known. I suggested that social enterprise is meant to be better than this and that accreditation should actually be seen as a natural element of helping build trust through ensuring and proving this. More than this, subscribing to achieve and maintain standards, to be held account to them, is actually a means through which people and organisations can build their capability – not have it restricted. Certification is therefore a form of enablement.

China PandaI thoroughly enjoyed my time meeting with a vanguard of social enterprise in China and learned much from them while I was there. My time in the country was not over at this point as an army of clay soldiers, the delight of pandas at play and a hike across a great wall awaited me (amongst other magnificent sites, along with some dubiously informed menu choices!). But that, as they say, is another story… My memories are of a country of great and beautiful contrasts and an experience I will fondly recall. I would like to thank Hou Peng of the British Council in China for his organisation and expert facilitation of my visit.

How the Social Enterprise Mark can benefit Higher Education Institutions

By Cara Aitchison, Vice Chancellor of University of St Mark & St John

Our students and graduates are increasingly reporting that they seek employment and lifestyles that enable them to contribute to the social, cultural and environmental well-being of their communities, society and the world around them, rather than simply thinking of their degree as a route to a highly paid career. This presents an opportunity for university leaders who chose to put ethics, civic engagement, social and environmental justice and sustainable economic development at the heart of their strategic plans and student experience.

By being accredited with the Social Enterprise Mark, universities can better demonstrate their sustainable and ethical business credentials to the next generation of applicants. We can show our students how we apply in practice the values and knowledge that we teach and how they too can be part of a social enterprise culture.

We are all under increasing pressure to expand and diversify our income streams, and to demonstrate our positive benefit to the students, communities and stakeholders we serve. The social enterprise business model provides opportunities for HEIs to transform the way we are perceived by stakeholders and can enable us to position ourselves as ‘businesses’ driven by social objectives.

MARJON-LOGO-CMYKThe University of St Mark & St John was awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in 2015, signalling our commitment to social enterprise and demonstrating the social value that we create as a university.

As the number one university in the UK for social mobility, we are proud to be recognised for our commitment to helping local communities and the broader south west peninsula to thrive and prosper. The Social Enterprise Mark helps us to communicate this commitment to students, potential applicants, partners and the wider business community and sets us apart as a values-based, socially conscious university.

As we enter a new era in Higher Education, where the Teaching Excellence Framework and other policy developments emphasise graduate earnings, we need ways to demonstrate our parallel commitment to social enterprise principles, and the Social Enterprise Mark offers one such mechanism.

There is currently a potential discount for GuildHE members that commit to apply for the Social Enterprise Mark before the end of August 2016, and I would recommend doing so. My colleague, Professor Brendon Noble, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and International who took forward our application for the Social Enterprise Mark, can also talk to you about our experience and the benefits.

You can get in touch with Social Enterprise Mark CIC with any questions, or to express your interest in applying – 0345 504 6536 or via email.


 

Originally posted on the GuildHE blog on 22nd April 2016

“It’s my refuge, where I find peace”

A patient’s view of John Taylor Hospice

Victoria Rawnsley from Great Barr describes the lasting impact of her stays at John Taylor Hospice’s In-Patient Unit. Victoria is on her third visit to Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice after meeting the In-Patient Unit team for the first time in January.

Victoria_Rawnsley_with_staff_nurse_Wendy_Simmons_-_web_detailThe 45 year old had been feeling really low and wasn’t sure what to expect. By the time she went home, Victoria said her mood had lifted considerably and she felt more confident.

“The staff were brilliant, they couldn’t do enough for me, I came out feeling ten feet taller” said Victoria, who was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time last year.

The hospice’s In-Patient Unit is designed to be a home from home. Regular and one-off breaks are for people who, like Victoria, are over 18 and have a palliative diagnosis. Breaks, known as respite care, can be planned in advance and throughout the year.

“When I’m here, they make me feel like a queen,” said Victoria. “Whatever I need, whenever I need it, nothing is too much trouble.”

John Taylor offers up to eight weeks of respite per year with at least six weeks between each stay.

“I look forward to coming so much. It’s my refuge, where I find peace,” said Victoria.

Victoria is hoping to marry her partner Barry later this year. She explained how they both benefit from the free respite care service offered by John Taylor Hospice.

“It’s a nice break for me,” she added. “And it’s a break for him, too.”

Staff nurse Wendy Simmons said: “It’s always a pleasure to welcome Victoria back to John Taylor Hospice. It’s her time to be pampered and experience specialist care 24 hours a day.

While she’s here, Victoria will also have the opportunity to talk to our nurses, doctors and other specialists about how she’s feeling, what works and what could be improved or changed.”

Head of community investment Marcus Cox said: “It costs £465 to provide one day of respite care to someone like Victoria. All donations – big and small – help to give life back to those in need.”

The John Taylor Hospice team keeps regular givers informed on how their gifts are being spent through updates by email, post or online. Marcus added By investing in John Taylor Hospice regularly, local people can ‘Taylor-make’ a difference, now and in the future. It’s quick and easy to set up a direct debit payment to John Taylor Hospice. Visit https://www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk/get-involved/donate/regular-giving.”

For more information on the hospice see www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk.

Digital leadership programme to create a new generation of business leaders

Social Enterprise Mark holder Cosmic recently announced the launch of their new Digital Leadership training programme.

Cosmic has launched this new programme in response to research carried out both locally and nationally looking at Digital Leadership in business. The evidence suggests that in many cases there is little or no real understanding of what Digital Leadership actually is and how it will impact on their business. The research identified that many businesses are investing in digital skills, but businesses are yet to address this issue at senior executive and Board levels.

The programme will be led by Cosmic’s own Digital Leaders Julie Hawker and Kate Doodson, who bring over 20 years’ experience of working within the Digital sector.

Julie said: “Many of the businesses we’ve been working with in recent months have identified a need to address skills development at senior levels, which is why we’ve taken time to research and respond to this issue. Whilst lots of businesses have been addressing the need to ‘digitise’ their operations, not many have yet truly embraced the digital transformation of their business by putting digital in the mix for new services, products and customer experience. This requires a new mindset and approach by our business leaders and decision-makers”.

Those engaged in the programme will get access to the latest national and international strategic thinking on digital leadership and be exposed to new business models help to develop ways to increase productivity in their business. Learning will cover subjects ranging from the digital workforce, business innovation, digital disruption, strategy and change management.

As an introduction to the programme, Cosmic are running free taster sessions – the first two being held in May, you can find out more and how to book via their website.

As part of the programme, Cosmic have produced a White Paper on Digital Leadership. The report provides reflections on the challenges which leaders and managers face in dealing with the changes which digital technologies are bringing. To access a copy please contact Vicky at Cosmic.

Kate Doodson said: “The phrase Digital leadership will become common parlance soon, as it will be a way to demonstrate progressive and engaged leadership in a digital world. Gartner suggests that a quarter of all businesses will lose their market share by 2017, if they don’t embrace digital, so suddenly it has become a business imperative. It’s time for business leaders in the South West to grasp this nettle and understand how to bring digital into strategic thinking to create a stronger future economy for our region”.


Conference_speakersJulie Hawker will be speaking on the subject of Digital Leadership at our Standing up to Scrutiny conference in Salford on 9th June 2016.

Please click here to book your tickets.

Applications to become Supply Shack’s new charity partner now open

Social Enterprise Mark holder Supply Shack is now welcoming applications from charities interested in becoming their new charity partner, to work together make a positive impact on the local community.

Supply Shack is a social enterprise supplying office products and services, specialising in office supplies, design, branded merchandise, print, signage, and exhibition stands.

The company is committed to putting their profits to good causes. Every year, Supply Shack partners with a local charity voted for by their customers and supports them throughout the year. The support ranges from donating office products, print, signage to donating staff time to help organise charity events. Since its establishment, Supply Shack has been working closely with charities in various sectors and has created considerable social impact through partnership activities. Some of Supply Shack’s past charity partners are Life Education Wessex, Diverse Abilities Plus, BCHA, and Lewis-Manning Hospice.

“It has been fantastic having Supply Shack’s support as their Charity of the Year for the last twelve months; they have helped us in lots of different ways; from taking part in fundraising challenge events, to sponsoring our Great Dorset Bake Sale initiative, and providing us with free printed advertising materials! They also supported us with our Toy Appeal in December helping us source toys for the disabled children we support to make their Christmas time really special. As a Social Enterprise, Supply Shack endeavour to put their profits back into good causes in the community which has a real impact for local people – it has been a real pleasure working with them!”, Beccy Payne from Diverse Abilities Plus comments on their partnership with Supply Shack.

“Helping good causes is at the heart of our business. It’s the foundation the company was built on and the reason that selling business supplies has become more interesting and worthwhile. It’s a simple idea; buy from us and we’ll do our best to help others on your behalf. Office supplies and print all wrapped up in a bundle of good karma!” says Caroline Pope, Director of Supply Shack.

This is a great opportunity for charities to receive needed funds and support from one of the most active social enterprises in Dorset.

Charities are invited to download the application form from Supply Shack’s website and submit it before 30th April. The voting period will last for 7 days, and the new charity partnership will last for a year until May 2017.

The Big Issue Celebrate 200 Million Sales

On 7th April 2016 The Big Issue celebrated 200 million sales in Britain.

In almost 25 years since its founding, the iconic magazine has changed the publishing landscape and the lives of thousands and thousands of people, working on the simple ‘A hand up, not a hand out’ mantra.

The Big Issue is not a charity, it is not a governmental agency, yet in that time it has allowed the poorest in Britain to earn more than £100 million. Without The Big Issue that huge figure would have had to come from begging, crime or the Exchequer. It is calculated that this money has resulted in an additional return for society of almost £500 million. This is through a simple business solution to a societal problem.

“We’re so proud to be able to mark this occasion,” said editor Paul McNamee. “When John Bird established The Big Issue in 1991 he wanted to offer the poorest in society a means to earn their own living, to work their way back up from the bottom, to see a future. John always thinks big but I don’t think even he would have seen 200 million sales. We’re delighted to be here, to be a print title that is putting on sales as others decline and to remain a vital force for the men and women who want to earn but have seen normal life close down.”

Big Issue MD, Russell Blackman added ”200 million copies sold is an incredible land mark and testament to all the vendors that have stood out there, in any weather, running their own micro-enterprises with a sense of dignity. The social impact that has been created by these sales is profound.’’

Big Issue 200million eventTo mark this fantastic date, The Big Issue has teamed up with prolific street artist Ben Eine who is most notable for his alphabet lettering on shop shutters and walls, to design a very special edition front cover of the magazine. Eine, one of Britain’s best urban artists, has created an exclusive cover using his unique lettering style. In collaboration with Eine and Jealous Gallery in Shoreditch, The Big Issue celebrated the landmark 200 millionth copy of the magazine sold with a special one-off exhibition of three new Ben Eine editions produced and hosted by Jealous Gallery.

At the public opening on Friday 8th April, Eine’s new prints were officially launched to fans and collectors alongside a selection of his previous print editions, produced in the Jealous Print Studio. A percentage of sales are going to The Big Issue to help with their on-going mission to help vendors help themselves.

“I am honoured to be able to be in a position where I can give something back and The Big Issue is an organisation that I feel passionate about. Any of us can become homeless pretty easily” said Ben Eine

For more information about the event, please visit The Big Issue website.

Life Echo project helps cancer patient to recall lost memories

Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder John Taylor Hospice is using sound therapy to support patients at end of life.

Staff at the hospice have added an innovative well-being project, called Life Echo, to the mix of activities and care services already offered to day hospice visitors. Through a series of one-to-one sessions, participants are encouraged to share their most positive memories of sound which are then recreated into short recordings for their personal use.

JTH Life EchoProstate cancer patient Gerald McCarty was one of the first to complete a Life Echo, shortly after the project launched in 2013. Gerald described how Life Echo touched him at a difficult time in his life and where he is today thanks to Life Echo.

“I’d been in hospital for some scans and when I came out I was not in a good place,” said Gerald, aged 84. “Something wasn’t right. I forgot my wife’s name, I couldn’t spell or write. My whole life was jumbled up and I couldn’t make sense of it. I didn’t enjoy remembering, so I would just choose not to.”

In collaboration with John Taylor Hospice, sound therapist Justin Wiggan supported Gerald to map out his life and recreate his most positive memories as sounds.

“It brought everything to life for me,” said Gerald, who lives in Walmley. “With Justin’s help, I created a timeline of my life, sectioning off blocks of five years. It gave me a way of exploring my memories in a way that felt manageable.”

For the final part of the project, Justin put together a short recording of Gerald’s life, based on his memories. Listening to it for the first time was when Gerald said his memories really began to flow.

“A steam train, the sounds of the brakes on my bicycle, waves on the shore of the Pembrokeshire coast – hearing those sounds that were such a big part of my life was more than therapeutic for me. It helped me to remember more details from those scenes. New memories started coming back to me. It was like someone had turned the radio up.”

JTH Life Echo 2Sound artist and project creator Justin Wiggan said: “It’s exciting to see Life Echo taking on a direction all of its own, supporting patients’ well-being in ways we hadn’t anticipated.

Before taking part in the project, Gerald told us that he struggled to piece his life together, as many of us do. Now he’s in the process of putting together a second Life Echo all on his own, based on our work together and new memories that have emerged.”

Justin delivers Life Echo sessions on a one-to-one basis, helping to create a safe space where people can be open about their feelings and their memories. At the project’s close, the participant is gifted a recording of approximately 20 minutes.

“It’s a very personal experience,” said Justin. “What we’re creating is a sound portrait of a person’s life through which our aim is to increase well-being in patients receiving end of life care.”

Activities with sound sit alongside other well-being, bereavement support and counselling services offered by John Taylor Hospice to people across Birmingham and the West Midlands.

“As Gerald has shown us, a Life Echo can also help people to share their experiences and recall new memories,” added Justin. “We hope that others will have the opportunity to take part in the project, now and in the future.”

 

For more information on the hospice please visit www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk.

Why talking about ‘what is a social enterprise?’ is still important

By Gareth Hart, Co-founder of Iridescent Ideas

“So you’re a social enterprise, eh? What does that mean then?” How many times have you been asked that question? How many times have you answered it but still aren’t convinced that they questioner has ‘got it’ or believes it?

The debate about the definition of social enterprise may well seem jaded and old news to those of us within the social enterprise community but it seems that a large proportion of the general public didn’t even realise there had been a debate going on. So, the aforementioned question comes up time and time again. If we want to establish new audiences for social enterprise and push the concept into a wider public consciousness it is vitally important to maintain a public dialogue about ‘what is a social enterprise’.

No one really seems to question you in the same way if your business is a charity or Fairtrade or eco-friendly. There is an automatic assumption these are ‘good’ things. People know what these terms mean. They come with a nice badge, logo or number that tells the public they’ve been checked out and do indeed do what they say on the tin. If only there was a similar thing available to social enterprises…

SE_Business_Identifier_RGBEnter the Social Enterprise Mark. The Mark is the social enterprise equivalent of the Fairtrade logo or the Charity Commission number. The Social Enterprise Mark provides:

  • A clear definition of what constitutes a social enterprise
  • An instantly recognisable ‘stamp of approval’ to show that your business has been independently assessed and meets criteria to justifiably call itself a social enterprise
  • A national community of like-minded ethical businesses for social enterprises to engage with
  • A range of other benefits around marketing and support

There is growing interest in the Social Enterprise Mark, particularly among large organisations like universities. Plymouth University was the first social enterprise university and has held the Mark since 2012. Many of the large health spin-outs also hold the Mark. These organisations provide services to huge numbers of people and have strong roles in public life in their respective towns, cities and areas. I would like to see more large healthcare providers really engage with the public around understanding that they are receiving great services from a local social enterprise. The Mark could help them do this.

As the social enterprise sector, and public awareness of it, continues to grow, so I hope that the Social Enterprise Mark will continue to flow into public consciousness and eventually become as recognisable as the Fairtrade logo. The Mark will evolve, I am sure, and we need an ongoing dialogue about what it means to be a social enterprise both within and outside the sector.

With the introduction of the Social Value Act in 2013 there is a requirement for social value and impact to be given more weight within commissioning of services. Consumers are looking to purchase ethical goods and for businesses to behave better. Surely then, the time is right for the Social Enterprise Mark to become a stamp of social value so that commissioners and customers alike will recognise social enterprises and be able to make more informed choices about the goods and services they buy and use.

I believe that social enterprises are better for the economy and for society. We need to articulate more clear what ‘better’ looks like of course. Social enterprises create wealth and jobs and also deliver environmental and social value. The Mark can be the guarantee that proves this.


 

Originally published on Iridescent Ideas blog, 2nd September 2015

Lucy Findlay

Helping to create winning or better social enterprises?

I recently stumbled upon an American blog which talks about whether competitions are good for social enterprises.  They are indeed all the rage – from social enterprise ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitches, to ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ awards.  However, are they really what social enterprise is about, and do they really tell us about whether that business is genuinely applying good practice?

Objections to competitions could include:

  • They offer a ‘flash in the pan’ snapshot view that doesn’t represent the long hard graft that goes into making a social enterprise work
  • What about those who don’t win – is it too much about winners and losers? Does it leave a bad taste for those that don’t win?
  • Is collaboration better than competing?

Cup-champion-iconFor me, competitions represent a snapshot in time and do have their place – for example, we are currently running the Making a Mark competition to celebrate the vast and diverse social benefits created by Social Enterprise Mark holders.

However, what competitions do not do is to tell you much about the social enterprise beyond the moment they were judged, or indeed the openness and transparency of competition process. It’s up to whoever the judges are on the day.

Accreditation however offers something quite different. The Social Enterprise Mark for example, is both a tool of business differentiation, and a tool to demonstrate that those who have it have proved how they are making society a better place.  There are no losers if you make the accreditation standard consistent and transparent, and our independent Certification Panel ensures this. The Mark provides a guarantee year on year, for both customers and partners, due to the annual reassessment process. Our Social Enterprise Gold Mark goes further, to prove that the best attributes of social enterprise are being applied across the business, and further developed and improved upon over time.

Therefore, we are not just talking about a single snapshot in time, but rather a social enterprise that can prove its social and enterprise attributes on an ongoing basis.

There is more ‘greenwash’ going on than ever before, as businesses realise the benefits of playing the social value and sustainability game. Which is precisely why we, as social enterprises, need to stand up to scrutiny and be open and transparent about what our motivations really are.  This is where Social Enterprise Mark accreditation can provide the solution!

verifying social value with the Social Enterprise MarkThe Mark provides an independent guarantee that an organisation has been through a robust assessment process, and is proven to be trading for people and planet. This is the crucial differentiator, and distinguishes social enterprises’ core motivation for being in business, which sets them apart from standard business models, where the key motivation is often to maximise profits for shareholders.

‘Standing up to Scrutiny’ is the theme of our conference this year, and the event will focus on why it’s important to prove what we are and how we are doing it. We will consider the importance of accreditation and standards systems, and how these can help social enterprises to measure, demonstrate, and report on their social impact, therefore enabling them to stand out from the crowd.

Conference speakersWe are pleased to be welcoming a panel of speakers from accreditation and standards setting authorities across a range of sectors, which should provide interesting and diverse perspectives on the importance of such systems.

The conference is being kindly hosted by Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder University of Salford at MediaCityUK on 8th and 9th June 2016. Earlybird tickets are available to book online from just £50 + VAT.

Conference_speakers

 

Lucy Findlay

Hooked on government support…

…from one dependency to another

You can’t have failed to notice the high profile fall of Kid’s Company over the last few months.  It reminded me of some of the dangers that can lie in reliance on government contracts for the delivery of public services, which has been repeated as a mantra for the social enterprise sector for nearly 20 years.  This of course is not the only issue for Kid’s Company, but one that I focus on here.

Many forget that, historically, social enterprise has its roots (along with the charity sector) in delivering where the conventional market has failed.  However, unlike charity, it uses a business model that creates enough revenue to either:

  1. deliver very low profit margins to reinvest because the social value/impact is included in their business delivery model which would otherwise increase profits; or
  2. deliver high margins in one activity that supports the cross subsidy of another less profitable social activity, freeing the company to deliver its social mission without the interference of others.

This provides a very flexible model that is really focused on social need. It is often more resilient too because it tends to have a number of revenue generation sources.

The government’s (and others’) wider promotion of opening up public service delivery, and the more recent emphasis on social investment as a means to deliver public services, whilst providing potential profit for investors, have realigned  and shifted the focus of social enterprise policy.  In fact, in my view, the term “social enterprise” was coined in the early 2000’s in many ways as a result of the opportunities that the spin out of public services presented to new and existing social enterprises.

It is perhaps not surprising that the government became so interested in social enterprise, given the drive to look at alternative delivery models.   I remember the Labour Government’s social enterprise strategy was pretty much solely focused on this aspect.  A number of us at the time, including the likes of Nigel Kershaw from The Big Issue, questioned why the government weren’t interested in supporting social enterprise to succeed in the open market as well.

It is only when I speak to social enterprise practitioners and commentators outside England that I realise how focused and obsessed the whole sector has become with government contracts.  We are constantly urged to ‘influence commissioners’ and ‘prove social value/impact’.  We hang on the words of government and the civil service to predict our futures.   But to what end?  To replace one dependency with another?

If we look back, the track record of successive governments have not been good in this area.  It is about to get a whole lot worse.  Commissioner loyalties are fragile and fickle especially in the light of more austerity.

Our collective memory seems to have been removed from us.  We need to spread our risks, focus on how we become less dependent on government and get back to the reason we exist in the first place – to deliver a social/environmental solution through an ethical business approach.

SE_Business_Identifier_RGBThe Social Enterprise Mark certification can help to prove your social credentials, as it encourages our Markholders to reflect on their social mission, value, and their independence, in order to differentiate and promote themselves, in order to achieve a sustainability that best serves the people they are in business for.  Government contracts do count as trading income, but  an overdependence on one source of income that is subject to the vagaries of political pressure never makes good business sense.

Social Enterprise shares results of UK trust survey

The Social Enterprise Mark Company has commissioned a survey to explore the issue of trust among UK adults.

The survey explores attitudes within an individual’s own social circle as well as looking at other aspects of our every day lives like government and business.

Results show that two in three adults of the 2,000 surveyed said they had no faith in the government.

And the typical adult can claim to have around 15 friends through work, university and childhood – but can only really trust four of them.

More than half (54%) of adults surveyed have issues with trust. Adults feel most at risk of being betrayed by a friend, followed by someone they work closely with.

The poll revealed adults put most faith in their partner with six in ten voting them as most trust-worthy, followed by their best friend and then a parent.

The most common reason a person has felt betrayed was by having their secrets blabbed – as almost four in ten said they’d had this done by someone they considered a friend.

And the lack of trust even extended outside the social circle, as two in three adults stated they have no faith in the government.

Over half said they find banks to be dishonest, whilst people and brands linked to tax avoidance were also deemed undeserving of trust.

Companies trading with consumers are up against a very tough audience as results show an unease with what a company might say and what a consumer might believe.

Nearly two thirds of people agree with the statement that a lot of companies pretend to be ethical just to sell more products.

Lucy Findlay added:  “This survey shows trust is in short supply. And if people find it hard to trust each other, how much harder is it to trust businesses? And with good reason, as we’ve seen from the many recent examples of financial misconduct and fat cat salaries.”

“Social enterprises are all about accountability, transparency and fairly distributed profits. In other words they’re ethical businesses, committed to caring for both people and planet. “

“The Social Enterprise Mark is your guarantee of this.”

Find out more about the Social Enterprise Mark by visiting www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk/who-do-you-trust/

Read the Managing Director’s blog about trust, see www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk/category/blog/mds-blog/

Lucy Findlay

Profiteering from the sick and dying

Lucy’s latest blog explores profiteering from delivery of NHS contracts. This blog was first published on the 2degrees network.

At the beginning of the summer there was an announcement that Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group plan to contract out their cancer and end of life care to the tune of £1.2bn. By my estimation, given the profit margins of at least 10%, this is at least £120m profit taken out of care services, for shareholders (and could be as much as £240m). I suspect there will be a lot of interest from the private sector as an opportunity to get into this potentially lucrative market.

Almost in tandem with this announcement there was a Daily Mail article which reported survey results showing most people do not care who delivers NHS services as long as it’s free. On the face of this, it is discouraging news for social enterprises. However, if you were to turn this around, given the latest health and care scandals, I’m sure that trust would be the number one priority. Social enterprises with their local knowledge, approachability and transparency are very well placed to engender this. They are not some faceless corporate just after a fast buck, because their number one reason for being set up is to deliver that service to fit their social mission.

I am really encouraged that the Labour Party is now talking about ring-fencing a number of public sector contracts for social enterprise delivery, although this does miss the point that there is an inherent difference in the way that a social enterprise delivers – because of its primary social motivation. I am due to meet with Chi Onwurah and I will be making this point. At least there is recognition that social enterprises do offer a good alternative.

My prediction is that in years to come, we will all be questioning the values (or lack of them) that were used to make public spending decisions.

There must be wider recognition that social enterprises not only often take a lower profit margin, but they are also reinvesting and devising a service that is aimed at the people they serve – a win-win! Just looking at the price and not what’s going on behind the scenes is not good enough. We need commissioners and politicians to understand this fundamental point.

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