Our mission: do good business and create social value
In addition to the impact (below), we have recently (May 2015) supported the development of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), the Social Enterprise Development Foundation, who will receive our profits through gift aid. This will help us achieve greater impact and support more people.
2016 saw the first investment in the SEDF charity. This was in partnership with the Community Action Newtork (CAN) and a successful application to the Awards for All funding stream. The project will enable local residents to gain skills in community research. Their work will enable CAN to identify gaps In services and other groups who need support.
As well as being a social enterprise that supports new and existing social enterprises, we Buy Social wherever possible. This includes hiring training rooms, networking and meeting spaces and of course the refreshements and lunches at our networking events. We activiely seek other social enterprises when purchasing other things too e.g. marketing materials and cleaning. We monitor our spend and aim to see increased (in percentage terms) purchases from social enterprises and charities year on year. Hoepfully one day, we’ll be able to source all our supplies from a social enterprise or charity!
- This year has been a year of change with contracts ending and new contracts starting. We were successful in this transitional period to gain approved provider status for two national initiatives (Cooperative Hive and Bright Ideas). Both funds are aimed at supporting social enterprises and community businesses either in their start-up and feasibility stage or their growth stage and provide funded consultancy support. This year we have supported 4 organisations – two start-ups and two growth.
- Our pro bono (free) consultancy to try to achieve greater impact, to this end in this financial year we have supported a number of initiatives and organisations with free consultancy. This year this has been 6 days to Castle Pool Community Partnership, 3 days to Moseley Road Baths Action Group, 2 days to the Firs and Bromford Big Local group, 8 days to Chelmund’s Community Enterprises, 2 days to Changes UK, 3 days to Caterpillars Play Group and 4 days to Wildside Activity Centre. Totaling 28 days pro bono support worth £11,200 at our normal charges. In addition two individuals (young people) have been provided with ongoing mentor support on an ad hoc basis.
- We have worked with Castle Vale Tenants and Residents Alliance (now Spitfire Advice and Support Services) with local sustainability funded consultancy. This has been a major transformation project working with the organisation at all levels including their trading subsidiary. The support has helped them develop skills and enhance their governance whilst re-aligning, re-branding and developing a host of new community and income generating services including a community cinema which has given them the foundations for sustainable community enterprise.
- Toward the latter part of the year we were successful in gaining a new Community Enterprise for Success contract with Solihull Council to support the local VCSE improve their skills, become more resilient and sustainable through trading activity. During the period this report covers more than 50 community enterprises have been supported with one to one support or one to many (workshops and training programmes). The project activities range from providing board level strategic guidance through to grass roots communications and beneficiary engagement strategies. It is a little too early to measure the impact of this at the time of writing, but the signs of increased employment, increased volunteers and increased income are evident from initial feedback. This contract runs for two years so we will be able to provide further impact reporting in our next annual report.
- In addition we continue to work with the School for Social Entrepreneurs by providing expert session on structures and governance and have worked with Walsall Council through Fircroft College to provide neighbourhood managers with training around structures, governance and finances for voluntary and community groups to help them support local voluntary sector in their areas.
Projects and programmes
- In 2015-16 we successfully worked with more than 30 organisations in Solihull to ensure they were tender reaady. Each attending a range of specifically developed workshops and seminars over the course of a year. In addition we undertook a large scale change management consultancy funded by the Local Sustainability Fund. Inadditon we worked on 2 Bright Ideas projects, 2 Cooperative Hive projects and a range of individual commisions from local charities.
- 2014-15 we ran the CEFS project for a 3rd year supporting more than 100 organisations with 63 third sector employees attending our workshops and training programmes, 8 groups benefit from our Social Value Action Learning programme and 12 full business assists were achieved. in addition through our social mission we supported more than 10 start up enterprises completely free of charge amounting to around (£14,000) worth of support at our normal rates.
- 30 full business assists were achieved in the CEFS (2012-2015) programme with 20% responding to our impact survey. Our support helped these groups achieve an additional £398,000 income; create 22 jobs and six volunteer placements. Rolling this up to the full 30 organisations would suggest an increased income of nearly £2m and 110 new jobs.
- Within the Big Assist programme we have now completed 23 consultancy projects supporting voluntary sector infrastructure organisations to sustain their services through developing enterprise and traded activity. During these projects we have maintained a quality rating of 4.7/5.
- See our case studies here