Could YOU be a social entrepreneur?

Blog post by Steve McLauchlin, Social Investment Manager at Somerset Community Foundation.

 

For the past 25 years or so, I’ve been woken by a radio alarm at 6am and listened to the first half an hour or so of the Today programme, which incorporates one of the very best business sections of any media I’ve ever paid attention to.

 

Over recent weeks, there has been focus on the fallout of the Lehman Brothers collapse back in 2008 that precipitated the financial crash, subsequent bailouts of banks and large corporations, quantitative easing, super-low interest rates and led into a long, slow recovery that has been so painful in so many ways for so many people.

 

For me, this is a reminder of the context and purpose of work I do with social enterprises helping secure funding and providing advice, guidance and support to individuals and organisations seeking to address challenges that, at least partially, result from the 2008/9 crash.

 

It has opened my eyes to the potential that is ‘out there’ for addressing many of the challenges we face around meeting the needs of people who are adversely affected or disadvantaged by life circumstances, injury, illness, accident and the inevitable process of getting older.

 

Social enterprises may not be THE solution, but they are definitely part of the solution and it has also been encouraging to see the – gradual – success of efforts to channel much needed funding and commercial management support in the direction of ‘social entrepreneurs’.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who called themselves a ‘social entrepreneur’ but I’ve met loads of people that fit the description. They have ideas; aspirations for themselves and others; energy and skill in abundance and, perhaps most importantly, they have the determination and tenacity to succeed in the face of trying circumstances.

 

What they need and value is support for dealing with what is broadly termed ‘business planning’ and guidance around securing affordable, flexible funding and, believe it or not, in the words of Baloo the Bear in Jungle Book: “We’re loaded with both!”
Examples that illustrate the benefit of working together to magnify the impact of social enterprise include:

 

  • Wood recycling, bicycle maintenance and horticultural organisations that help volunteers transform their lives whilst generating revenue through their services.

 

  • Arts organisations, traditionally reliant on grants and donations now actively seeking opportunities to ‘market’ their capacity to provide income through ‘paid for’ services.

 

  • Furniture upcycling, gardening and other ‘workshop’ activities being used to generate revenue and provide therapeutic support around loneliness, physical and mental health issues which are testament to how, working together, we can make a difference and then grow.

 

I could name many more and I meet new ones every day informing my optimism that this is a movement that is gaining momentum and will continue to build for a long time to come.

 

That’s why I chuckled this morning when a commentator on the Today programme observed drily that, “a pessimist is merely an informed optimist”.

 

I’m proud that, through my work with Somerset Community Foundation – managing the Somerset Social Enterprise Fund and delivering support through the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme – I’m able to add my skills, knowledge and experience into the mix and build relationships with remarkable and inspirational people.

 

I’d welcome your help in doing more and, if you’d like to do that too, then please follow the links below:

 

https://www.somersetcf.org.uk/apply-for-a-grant/Somerset-Social-Enterprise-Fund

 

School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners offering a minimum of 12 hours tailored business support to social entrepreneurs in Somerset and Devon as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information and to register visit http://www.devon.cc/ese.

 

ERDF logo

 

The project is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

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Croyde Deckchair Cinema

 

 

Croyde deckchair cinema screen and chairs

 

Croyde Deckchair Cinema is a not-for-profit organisation that enables charities, local groups and individuals to raise money for good causes. It is run in the local village hall and provides facilities for charity screening for local people. Its founder, Chris Burrows, was a student on the Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme in 2017.

 

The idea for Croyde Deckchair Cinema was born after an 8 month surf trip around Australia and New Zealand. Chris was looking for a way to raise money to create a Croyde Skateboard Park and to finance a weekly winter youth club. An outside cinema seemed a great idea – but the British summer weather soon halted any plans.
So, Chris decided that an indoor deckchair cinema experience was worth a try. Initially Chris ran the cinema as a hobby in his spare time. When his job circumstances changed he could no longer justify giving all his time and resources away for free and felt that he needed to find a way of being able to charge for his time.

 

Chris decided to apply for the Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2017 to try and learn how he could “get in a position to be psychologically and morally comfortable with charging for my time and making a living from the project”. At that point he was donating his time as well as paying for all the equipment and supplies out of his own pocket and struggling with the moral dilemma of earning money from a charity.

 

Chris definitely got what he wanted from the course. “I learnt to take what I was already doing, and doing well, and transform it into a financially successful, as well as worthwhile, charity.” The course taught him to “business-ise my hobby/interest/good nature and give it a title, and it made me consider many things that I SHOULD have been thinking about but wasn’t. It helped me turn my hobby into a business”  The course also demonstrated to him that within the social enterprise model it is valid to take a wage so that you can continue to do all the great things.

 

 

Chris feels that the skills and resources he learnt on the course put him on a level playing field with successful commercial businesses and it enabled him to communicate as an equal when accessing networking resources. He found the networking and witness sessions very useful. Following conversations with some of the other social entrepreneur students on the course, and also the business experts, he formulated a good pitch to help him when negotiating with people to get free work and resources. A fantastic speaker/mentor session by Elle from Effervescent gave him a valuable quote that he still references when the question of why he gets paid comes up…“well I’m worth it.”

 

In 2015 the Croyde Deckchair Cinema were acknowledged by the B.F.I (British Film Institute) and awarded new cinema equipment. The cinema is very popular with the locals and shows a wide range of films throughout the year. They cater for lots of different audiences, from social, ethical and environmental films to action, school holiday films, classics and documentaries. As a result, they have raised a large amount of money over the years for local, national and international good causes.

 

Applications are now open for two new SSED courses for social entrepreneurs in Devon and Somerset. The Start Up Intensive Somerset programme and the Devon and Somerset Development Programme. For more information about the new SSED programmes:

 

https://www.the-sse.org/courses/start-up-intensive-somerset-2018/

 

https://www.the-sse.org/courses/devon-somerset-development-2018/

 

School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners offering a minimum of 12 hours tailored business support to social entrepreneurs in Somerset and Devon as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information and to register visit http://www.devon.cc/ese.

 

ERDF logo

 

The project is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

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Enhance Social Enterprise at Off Grid Festival

 

 

I had a stand for the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme at Off Grid festival from Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th August 2018, on the recommendation of an osteopath I met at South West Business Expo earlier in the year.

 

 

The festival dates back to 2009 and previous locations include Shepton Mallet and Exeter. This year the event was held at Tapeley Park, in the picturesque town of Instow in North Devon, surrounded by rolling countryside, where the elements have been harnessed in the form of wind turbines.

 

In the 1880’s it was Lady Rosumund who resided at Tapeley Park, but nowadays it is her great grandson, Hector, who runs the estate. Hector championed chemical free food production long before the arrival of organic groceries on supermarket shelves and over the years has given home to ideas, people and projects exploring the theme of sustainability. Tapeley Park itself includes a permaculture garden and is pesticide free.

 

Tapeley Park Estate

 

As the name of the festival suggests, there were talks on how to go about living “Off Grid,” however the scope of the festival was much broader. From permaculture to yoga, micro-renewables, to knitting and singing, and plans for sea passenger vessels offering the World’s first sustainable option for long distance travel. Workshops I attended included one by Jay Tompt from the REconomy Centre in Totnes talking about Citizen-led economic transition. Jay spoke about community wealth building, in which inequalities in communities are tackled by ensuring the economic development of a place is shared equally amongst its residents.

 

 

I also attended a talk by renewable energy firm 361 energy CIC, a beneficiary of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, describing how 361 energy CIC was originally set up by a group of volunteers concerned about the impact of poverty on their local community. As well as providing affordable renewable energy, 361 energy works with members of the community to see how they can better insulate their homes to reduce their fuel bills. The community own shares in the business and any profits go towards fuel poverty alleviation projects in the local area. Gwen de Groot, co-director of 361 energy CIC described it as the democratization of energy, taking back control from multinationals.

 

I think it’s fair to say there was some surprise at Devon County Council having a presence at the event. People were interested to know that Devon and Somerset County Councils provide support to social enterprises, and many of the people there were involved in social enterprises in the area, whether as a director or volunteer, so it was a great opportunity to promote the business support available through the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. As we are all learning from the fate of Carillion and the like, social enterprises can provide a much brighter grassroots alternative to the models of privatisation we have seen in the past.

 

 

Sign in the ground - another World is possible

 

The biggest takeaway for me though was to understand how the social enterprise movement is part of a much bigger social and environmental movement, of which we all need to be a part, and it’s very exciting.

 

Blog post by Susie Jones, marketing officer, Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, and to register visit: http://devon.cc/ese.

 

ERDF logo

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

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Somerset social entrepreneur awarded £10,000 Big Lottery grant.

 

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington (SSED) is delighted to announce that one of their Fellows, Kris Scotting, has been awarded a Big Lottery Awards for All grant of £10,000, for his social enterprise, Seed of Hope CIC. National Lottery Awards for All offers funding from £300 to £10,000 to support what matters to people and communities.

 

Seed of Hope is a Social Enterprise which changes the lives of people with mental health problems through Recovery based social and therapeutic gardening. They work alongside Bridgwater and Taunton College, using its stunning Walled Gardens of Cannington as a base. Using the gardening expertise and facilities of the college, and the mental health recovery experience, of co-founders, Kris Scotting and Jayne Alcock they use gardening to support people in their personal Recovery journey. Participants if they wish to do so are supported to achieve a level one qualification in Practical Horticultural Skills awarded by City and Guilds.

 

Kris Scotting was a student on the School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington (SSED) Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2018. Kris comments: “We are thrilled to have been awarded this money which will be used to expand what we do to change the lives of more people in more places.”

 

Kris continues: “I can attribute this award directly to my attendance on the SSED course. The business review process and the support and mentoring of the SSED learning managers, Chloe Tingle and Sam Haydock, really helped. Finding grant funding for a social enterprise can be difficult. The course helped me to identify our social impacts which enabled us to find a funder whose desired impacts matched our own. For Awards for All these are: Shaping the places and spaces that matter to communities, Bringing more people together and building strong relationships in and across communities and Enabling more people to fulfil their potential by working to address issues at the earliest possible stage. Seed of Hope looks forward to helping to deliver these.”

 

SSED learning manager, Chloe Tingle commented: “I am delighted for Kris and Seed of Hope. Like many social entrepreneurs, he had a great idea for a community based business, but needed some support and expert advice to take his business to the next stage. I’m thrilled that as a result of his learning experiences on our programme, he has been successful in his application for this grant.”

 

Kris concludes: “Seed of Hope has grown from the seed of an idea Jayne and I had whilst volunteering for our local In Bloom society. This grant will enable us to branch out and blossom. A big thank you from Seed of Hope to the players of the national lottery and to the School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington.”

 

Applications are now open for two new SSED courses for social entrepreneurs in Devon and Somerset. The Start Up Intensive Somerset programme and the Devon and Somerset Development Programme. For more information about the new SSED programmes:

www.the-sse.org/courses/start-up-intensive-somerset-2018/

www.the-sse.org/courses/devon-somerset-development-2018/

 

School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington (SSED) are one of six delivery partners offering a minimum of 12 hours tailored business support through the Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, supported by Somerset and Devon County Councils. For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and to register, visit devon.cc/ese.

 

ERDF logo

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

 

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Seed of Hope

 

 

Seed of Hope is a Community Interest Company providing Recovery based social and therapeutic gardening. They work with Bridgwater and Taunton College, using its stunning Walled Gardens of Cannington as a base. Using the gardening expertise and facilities of the college, and the mental health recovery experience, of Kris Scotting and Jayne Alcock they use gardening to support people in their personal Recovery journey. Participants are supported to achieve a level one qualification in Practical horticultural Skills awarded by City and Guilds.

 

Co-founder Kris Scotting was a student on the School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington (SSED) Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2018. “I used to be a psychiatric nurse, but I’m better now! I started as a volunteer in 1985 working with ex-offenders in Hampshire in a market garden, and really saw the benefits there. I thought it would be a good idea to get some training so went off and trained as a psychiatric nurse.” He worked for 8 years in the NHS then worked in the voluntary sector for 11 years before moving on to work for another social enterprise.

 

“I can’t tell you when the exact moment was, but at some point I realised there was no such thing as mental illness. Clearly people experience emotional and psychological distress which can be life limiting and even life ending. Having worked in that sector for many years I noticed that taking tablets doesn’t necessarily make people better, and it’s a very restrictive system that says -“just take it easy, don’t worry about having a life or a job, or a relationship, because you can’t do those things when you’ve got a mental illness.” There are different ways to do mental health. The over-riding paradigm in statutory mental health services in England is the medical model, which says you’ve got the illness, take the tablets do as we say and you’ll get better.

 

“But there is another paradigm which is the Recovery one which says that people with mental health problems can and do recover. And that’s not necessarily a clinical recovery or a social recovery, that’s about living your life in a satisfying, hopeful and contributing way even with a mental health problem and that’s what Seed of Hope’s about. It’s about getting outdoors, in nature, nurturing living plants and the environment, caring for something other than yourself, working together as a team, with a common goal. And it’s about being outside in increased light levels which is good for you and above all, hope.
“Hope is in our name and hope is one of the key things in Recovery. If you haven’t got hope, then what is the point? Gardeners are some of the most hopeful people in the world.”

 

“We started on a wing and a prayer and were lucky to get a grant from Tesco Bags of Help which allowed us to work for a year here and prove the viability of the project. It also enabled us to build many of the structures you see here at the site (Cannington Community Orchard). As a result, we incorporated as Seed of Hope CIC in 2017 in the hope that would help us to be more self sufficient and sustainable.

 

From a neglected orchard, bordering a stream they have created a beautiful garden with all plants grown from seed in their green house and poly-tunnel on another section of the site. Plants are grown on in raised beds made from upcycled scaffold boards and there is a wildflower area that borders the stream which is real wildlife haven. “We put the hide in for bird watching and we had a grand opening, and you couldn’t make it up, two red kite flew across the back. We’ve also got a kingfisher and otters in the brook.”

 

 

“The project was to create a Recovery pathway through the garden. We put in several tonnes of hard core and created a shaded contemplation area.” They also put in a log path and a little corner with a wooden dragon sculpture and a sitting area looking over the stream and adjoining fields.

 

“The path echoes the path of Recovery, it’s not always straight and easy”. It meanders through an area planted with wildflower seeds, through a lovely archway “covered in dog rose and honeysuckle to bring you out into the real world.”

 

 

Sadly, the site has suffered from a few acts of vandalism, but Kris sees this as akin to the Recovery journey, “life knocks you back but you just have to get up again and carry on”.
Initially, Kris and Jayne hoped that people would pay for Seed of Hope’s service through their individual health and social care budgets. “Some people have, the budget should come from the NHS but it is very difficult to access. If people have a learning disability for example, or a disabled child or are over 65, the first thing that happens is that they’ll be assessed for eligibility by doctors or social workers. In mental health this happens much less frequently. Under the 2008 Health and Social Care Act everybody’s entitled to an assessment of their health needs and a health budget should be allocated accordingly, but this doesn’t always happen. The research shows that when people are given an individual health and social care budget they do really well with it, but in an austerity society the budget is often unavailable or inaccessible.”

 

So Seed of Hope have started to diversify to find other ways of making money which will enable people to access their service.
They sell packets of wildflower seeds, called Seeds of Hope, for £1 per packet and hold events at which they sell items made by the Seed of Hope participants and volunteers. For example, a new range of upcycled pallet wood planters, planted with dwarf varieties of herbs and veg plants that they have grown from seed. These have proved very popular, “the idea and the success is based on the talents of the group.”

 

And it is the creating of the garden and garden products for sale that forms part of the therapy for the participants. Whether it is getting involved in ripping apart pallets and re-assembling them into planters, or digging and weeding raised beds or planting seeds and potting on plants.

 

A typical day starts with a chat over a cup of tea, then yoga, some gardening, lunch which is a social group affair at the wooden table outdoors, followed in the afternoon by the Recovery group session.

 

 

Plans for the future include expanding into more locations. A recent visitor from London would love to see the concept replicated there, particularly the Recovery sessions. Kris would like this to work in a similar way to Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, whereby if you are away from home, you can look up a Seed of Hope Recovery group based in your area and go along and join in. This is one way in which the SSED Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme has helped Kris, to explore new options such as social franchising.

 

Seed of Hope had been going for a couple of years before Kris joined the SSED programme. This was a five-month intensive programme where students learnt ‘by doing’, gaining advice and guidance from business experts, participating in interactive sessions with experienced social entrepreneurs and fellow students and receiving individual in-depth analysis of their social enterprises.

 

“The networking has been fantastic, worth its weight in gold. We were encouraged to take every opportunity to network, with fellow students, and with the business experts and mentors that come in to give practical help and advice. I would recommend the programme to others for the networking opportunities alone and also the contacts, which is one of the reasons why I went on the course.”

 

“I definitely noticed the ‘SSE effect’. Once you’re in there, the fellows are valued. You get the publicity through case studies like this and have access to the network of other SSE fellows across the UK and beyond. The action learning sets are fantastic, and we’re continuing with ours in Somerset now that the course is over.”

 

There is a real sense of community amongst the people in the garden. It is a calm environment and it is easy to see why it has such a therapeutic effect. “We’re about mental health, not mental illness. We’ve got humour ingrained in our DNA. We laugh at ourselves and our situations and that in itself is therapeutic, because a lot of therapy groups are very straight-laced.”

 

One of their success stories is a man who literally couldn’t come into the room with the other participants at first, because the voices in his head were so bad. He is now a confident and social member of the group and is even starting his own social enterprise. Another member recovered and is now in full time work. One met her partner there and is now engaged to be married. Another plans to get a job as a landscape gardener.

 

The Seed of Hope board is made up of the group participants. In their articles of association they enshrined that anyone who comes to Seed of Hope can become part of the company and have an equal vote in what goes on, so even if Kris or Jane were no longer involved it would still be able to carry on in its present form.

School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are currently recruiting social entrepreneurs to two programmes:

Start Up Intensive – Somerset 2018, applications are open to new and aspiring social entrepreneurs in both Somerset and Devon. For more information and to download the application form visit: http://bit.ly/2N5dFTj

Devon and Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Development Programme, for established social enterprises looking to grow. For more information and to download the application form visit: http://bit.ly/2NHAEov

School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners offering a minimum of 12 hours tailored business support to social entrepreneurs in Somerset and Devon as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information and to register visit http://www.devon.cc/ese.

 

 

ERDF logo

 

The project is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

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ACEarts

 

 

ACE stands for Art Care Education. They are a charity with a mission to make a difference to people’s lives through art and creativity, regardless of age, background or ability. They have been awarded the Somerton Town Council Award for Arts and for Business and in 2017 were very proud to be runners up in the Somerset Business Awards for Small Business Charity of the Year 2017. Trustee Shirley Chapman was a student on the School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington (SSED) Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2018.

 

ACEarts is based in Somerton’s old Town Hall in Somerset. The derelict building was fully restored in 2016 in part thanks to funding by the building’s current owner and patron of the charity. It now houses a gallery shop downstairs and an art exhibition space, café and community space on the stunning upper floor.

 

 

The space is used for exhibitions, events and meetings that aim to include all sections of the community. One recent event saw a 4 year old working alongside a 93 year old and another successful exhibition involved large structures called podules that encouraged one young boy with severe autism to actually communicate with another child for the first time in his life.

 

Shirley worked in the finance industry and care industry prior to joining ACEarts. When she retired she started volunteering in the gallery and was subsequently asked to become a trustee and to do the finances.

 

 

It took about 18 months to get the gallery up and running. Although all the trustees had worked in high powered jobs, Shirley felt that they were running the charity more as a project and so decided that it was time to get expert advice and start planning for the future of the business. In particular, she was interested in finding out more about applying for funding and long term business planning. “We were coasting along well, but the course really helps you to formulate a plan for the future. It’s not until you do the course that you realise that you do need that expertise.”

 

One of ACEart’s objectives is to own the building. The charity had considered different ways of raising capital but Shirley says that the opportunity to discuss this with the different business advisors on the SSED programme business panel review was very useful, as they suggested various ideas that she can now explore with her board.
The charity works with over 120 freelance artists and designers who exhibit in the exhibition space and sell their work in the gallery shop. The sales from the gallery, shop and exhibitions enables ACEarts to provide their education and care activities, workshops and community events.

 

 

For the past 6 months they have been focusing on their outreach work. They work with local residential and nursing homes to get the freelance artists out into the homes, working closely with health and social care professionals to create enjoyable art activity sessions. “These provide social interaction for the residents and help to increase happiness and wellbeing. We’ve had several people with severe dementia that haven’t socialised before who have interacted through the sessions. We want to continue this work and hope to branch out into other care homes eventually.”

 

Shirley is keen to diversify the inclusive community activities that ACEarts provides and through the SSED course met fellow social entrepreneurs who were able to advise her on her plans to reach out, for example, to the refugee community, discussing options such as using food to bring communities together.

 

The SSED fellows also collaborate with each other. ACEarts are planning an exhibition involving 5 major structures, for which they have applied for Arts Council funding. Following the exhibition, the structures will need to be placed somewhere and one of the other students on Shirley’s course is planning an art trail on her community farm, so they are working together to place the structures along the trail.

 

In addition to generating income from the gallery and shop, ACEarts also apply for funding and grants to support their work. “It was very useful to get the knowledge from the business panel of how to go about applying for grants and funding.”

 

The Somerset Community Foundation gave them a grant which is being used to fund a postcard project between the residents in the care homes and local school children. They send each other postcards which will then be displayed in an exhibition at the gallery. They also received funding from Skipton Building Society for their outreach projects in care homes. And Santander gave them funds which have been used to provide assisted places for workshops with the artists, for those who would not otherwise be able to afford to participate in these.

 

ACEarts is run by 1 full-time and 2 part-time employees and 33 volunteers. The need for adequate staffing hit home recently when the gallery manager was off sick for a few weeks. Shirley says that one of the main purposes of attending the SSED course was to help the business to expand so that they can employ more people. She learnt from the course that business model, business structure, staffing resources and costs were a priority and is now focussed on how best to organise the structure of the business. “One of the action learning questions on the course was, what is your manager doing, is she doing what you’re employing her to do? She is absolutely amazing at doing all the exhibitions, the artists and that side of things but of course she is bogged down with the running of it. So that’s what I’ve learnt from the course that we actually need to employ someone to be the deputy so that the manager can get on and do her job. We would also like to employ someone to create an online shop so we can expand sales that way.”

 

Since the gallery first opened in September 2016 they have hosted a programme of inspiring exhibitions and the social enterprise model fits in well with the ethos of the business. One comment recorded in their exhibition visitor book states: “The most social exhibition I have ever been to – we’re all talking to each other and all generations interacting happily.”

 

They have set up the Somerton Area Alliance to make Somerton a dementia friendly town. “I am a dementia friend and we run dementia friends’ sessions in the hall and are aiming to get 500 dementia friends in the next year, we currently have 102. We’ve been running the sessions with the scouts, beavers and cubs and these have been fantastic and we also want to link into the schools with that as well.” A recent exhibition featured drawings and installations exploring dementia, helping to raise awareness of the issue locally.

 

“What I particularly liked about the School for Social Entrepreneurs programme was the good collaboration with everybody, getting other people’s ideas and the chance to reassess what you are doing as a business. I also benefitted from the sales sessions and was able to take the advice and information to upskill the gallery staff and volunteers, to help them with the sales skills required to run a successful retail business.”

 

Shirley definitely advises people to go on the course. “There were a lot of people there who hadn’t fully set up their businesses and they got a lot out it. The facilitators were excellent and their advice and the course content was very good. It was run exceptionally well and was the right sort of length. It was very beneficial, tapping into other people’s expertise. We had a good group and an excellent action learning set and it was great to collaborate with people who are willing to listen to you and give you their expertise.”

 

School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are currently recruiting social entrepreneurs to two programmes:

 

  • Start Up Intensive – Somerset 2018, applications are open to new and aspiring social entrepreneurs in both Somerset and Devon. For more information and to download the application form visit: http://bit.ly/2N5dFTj

 

  • Devon and Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Development Programme, for established social enterprises looking to grow. For more information and to download the application form visit: http://bit.ly/2NHAEov

 

School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners offering a minimum of 12 hours tailored business support to social entrepreneurs in Somerset and Devon as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information and to register visit http://www.devon.cc/ese.

 


The project is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

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Resilience, Readiness & Responsibility

Blog promoting the business support offered by Devon Community Foundation
The Enhance Social Enterprise programme is supporting the growth of the social enterprise sector across the Heart of the South West LEP area covering Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and Somerset. Through this programme existing social enterprises, community sector groups that want to transition into trading, budding social entrepreneurs in need of help to develop their ideas to start trading and existing social enterprises looking to grow can receive a minimum of 12 hours of FREE tailored business support from a range of partners.

 

The business support provided by Devon Community Foundation, as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, looks at income diversification and financial sustainability. It may be that your social enterprise has been dependent on grants and donations for operating income. If this is the case, you may be considering how you can move away from being so reliant on vulnerable sources of income. Grants and donations may not be so easily obtained in the future and if they can be obtained, they may be much reduced. If this sounds like you, then you may have heard some common buzzwords that tend to get used when discussing these things: In this short piece I want to offer a quick glance at resilience, readiness and responsibility and offer a fresh perspective on their vital relationship.

 

Resilience
To shield your social enterprise from the uncertainty of reliance of grant and donations, you may wish to increase your trading operations so that a greater proportion of income is derived from profitable trading. The adoption of such a strategy could be considered as making the social enterprise more resilient – able to better withstand the rapidly changing environment in which it operates. One social enterprise I recently worked with has an objective to increase income derived from trading to over 50% in the next few years, and a social investment loan is helping them to achieve that goal.

 

Readiness
Sometimes, finance is needed in order to up-scale trading operations, and one way to fund growth is through taking a loan. Although access to finance from traditional banks may be restricted for social enterprises, there is now a good range of social investors offering loans. These include not only Devon Community Foundation (DCF)and our Devon Social Investment Fund, but also organisations such as Social Investment Business, Social Finance, Access, Big Issue Invest, Resonance and CAF Venturesome.

 

When a social enterprise is looking to take a loan, the business will be required to demonstrate investment readiness. The social investor will commonly want to see a robust business plan, marketing strategy, cash flow forecasts, social impact reporting and good governance. These are essential building blocks that will not only help attract investment by demonstrating readiness, but the process of developing and implementing these crucial aspects will build capability and capacity into the business. This could secure not only an investment loan, but also the long-term future of the social enterprise as it becomes more resilient and able to deliver growing social impact.

 

Responsibility
During a recent meeting with a very small social enterprise to explore an investment loan, we went through the investment readiness requirements headlined above. I must admit to thinking how heavy and demanding it all sounded! I was surprised at the end of the meeting when the founder of the business told me how relieved she was to be going through this! It turned out she had previous negative experience of taking on a loan that was not suitable and she was unable to repay. I was thanked for being a responsible lender, with the founder saying that she came into the meeting scared and left it feeling safe.

 

Although the investment readiness process may at first seem daunting, it should be welcomed. Not only does it make a business more resilient, it is an act of responsibility by the social investor. If you are looking to take on an investment loan there is some very good support offered through the The Reach Fund that provide grants to fund consultants to work with you on your investment journey. Social enterprises can be referred to the fund through investors such as DCF’s Devon Social Investment Fund as they start to work together on investment readiness.

 

If you would like to know more, then please do get in touch; I’m sure we can help with your investment readiness and resilience. Oh, and we are responsible.

 

Blog post by Richard Taylor, Social Investment Manager, Devon Community Foundation.

 

For more information on how the Devon Community Foundation can support your social enterprise email socialinvestment@devoncf.com or phone 01884 235887.

 

 

 

ERDF logo

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

 

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Double Bounce Inclusive Tennis South West video case study

 

We interviewed Fiona Murphy, founder of Double Bounce Inclusive Tennis South West CIC. Here, she explains how she combined a love for Tennis and for working with disabled people to create her social enterprise and how she benefitted from the support of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

 

For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and to register visit: devon.cc/ese.

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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So what’s all the fuss about B Corp?

Certified B Corp logo

B Corp status is the latest movement sweeping the business world, originating in the states, almost 150 UK businesses are now certified as a B Corp, and 3,000 globally, and some pretty big ones too.

So what is a B Corp, who’s got it, why does it matter, what sets is apart from social enterprise?

B Corps status doesn’t replace the need for social enterprises, businesses that enshrine social impact in their operating model. The key difference is that B Corps is a status any business or social enterprise can gain, it is not a legal structure. It’s purpose is to recognise and involve all businesses, big and small, profit distributing or not in improving the way they work in a number of areas related to ethical business. From employee engagement to standards on social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, the B Impact Assessment gets to the bottom of how a business operates in an ethical manner. For those of us getting weary of the corporate clap trap surrounding CSR, this really feels like a breath of fresh air.

There is something mythical about even the name, does it stands for Better, Benefit or Be the Change? The real answer is that in many US states companies can change their legal structure and become Benefit Corporations, this satisfies the legal component of becoming a certified B Corp, so that is where the ‘B’ probably came from, but as the movement develops, ‘Be the Change’ is how the entrepreneurs leading the charge often refer to it.

In the UK there are some high profile B Corp’s, Danone UK, Divine Chocolate Ltd, Pukka Herbs, JoJo Maman Bebe, Ella’s Kitchen, west country surf brand Finesterre and Cornish design agency Leap and it’s growing all the time. There are also some social enterprise converts who are choosing to use B Corp status to demonstrate their credentials like the Big Issue, Resource Futures and at some point in the future hopefully RIO!

The reason businesses are starting to turn to B Corp status is simple, the market is starting to expect more from businesses. Whether that be investors looking for more impactful returns or millennials demanding more purpose in their jobs or customers demanding more than just a cheap price, conscious about where and how their products are made. If you think this sounds glib, some pretty influential people are backing the cause, people with a lot of money to invest for good.

Larry Fink –BlackRock CEO:

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies need to do more than make profits —they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.”

So why does this matter? Well, for those of us working in the social enterprise sector we may have reason to think we own social impact! But we don’t, and whether we like it or not, businesses have a huge role to play in society, so in my view, anything which succeeds in getting business leaders to take the triple bottom line more seriously has to be a good thing. Of course we can all argue that the legal aspects are not the same as an asset locked CIC, and you’d be right, but if you can get 1,000 shareholders to agree to change a business’s legal constitution so that it has to take into account social and environmental factors when making decisions, then you’ve invested heavily in this and won some hearts and minds! If you’ve then achieved the minimum 80 out of 200 score, you’re definitely on the right path. Are there businesses who could take advantage of this to ‘greenwash’ their customers, possibly, but they would have to go through a lot of effort to do that, are there social enterprises who don’t deliver as they should, probably. Are we better off having a movement of businesses all trying to ‘Be the change’ in the world…absolutely.

Having recently trained as a B Leader, someone who can help and guide businesses through the process, I’ve come to realise that despite my initial cynicism, this could really be something that makes a difference. The group I trained with came from many backgrounds, some running their own businesses, some representing major financial institutions and training as internal champions, some looking for a career change, but all with one clear objective, to have more purpose in life. That was refreshing, as was the beer that we drank after the training and that is as much a part of this movement as anything else, B Social’s are popping up everywhere, a chance to meet likeminded business people, exchange practice and do better business together. I have already witnessed some great examples of information sharing between businesses that normally might be competitors, or at the very least extremely guarded about what they share, but the B Corp network in the UK, coordinated by B Lab UK, seems to have real potential and there are already examples of B Corp’s redefining their supply chains by demanding B Corp status from their suppliers.

So safe to say I’m an early adopter, but mindful of my social enterprise roots! But there’s a part to play for both B Corp and social enterprise and I for one hope this brings like minded people together to make more social change happen and to do some better business together!

For help and advice on B Corp visit http://bit.ly/2smPJ5

Blog post by Jon Rolls, commercial director at Real Ideas Organisation. Real Ideas Organisation are one of six delivery partners providing business support to Social Entrepreneurs as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020

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Encounter Theatre & Therapy Video Case Study

Video case study featuring Amerie-Rose, co artistic director of Encounter Theatre & Therapy, who completed the Lloyd’s Social Entrepreneurs Start-Up Programme at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington, which is supported by the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

 

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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