Politics v Social Enterprise Christmas Cheer

Politics v social enterprise Christmas cheer

 

The result of the general election will soon be upon us.  This excellent evaluation from Nick Temple of Social Investment Business shows what’s in the various party manifestos for social enterprise. There’s more political analysis from SEUK here

 

Whatever your politics and whether you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the political direction of the country: cheer yourself up with a social enterprise Christmas challenge.

 

As a family we’ve set ourselves the mission of buying all our presents from a social enterprise or small local business. Over the years we’ve got pretty close – I just find that Waterstones is a tremendous bookshop! If an accessible, high street, social enterprise, bookshop existed that rivalled Waterstones I would shop there for definite.

 

We need more publicly aware social enterprise brands that can take on the likes of Amazon, Marks and Spencer, Next, Boots etc. There are often small social enterprise versions of these big brands (there’s even a social enterprise pharmaceutical company) but they don’t yet have the cut through into public awareness.

 

It’s an enduring problem for social enterprise. Over time, brands such as Divine Chocolate, Social Bite and Belu Water have emerged, but we still talk about the likes of The Eden Project, Big Issue and Fifteen Restaurants and have been for over fifteen years.

 

But you can help by shopping at those that do exist. Especially at Christmas. Take a look at this brilliant Christmas gift guide from Social Enterprise UK. Some of the unusual gifts that caught my eye were:

 

• Alive and Kicking footballs
• Madlug rucksacks
• Jolt earphone holders
• James Lucy watches
• Tea People tea pots
• Goldfinger Factory chopping boards
• Studio 306 jewellery
• Juta Shoes vegan slippers
• BoHoHomes clutch bags

 

Who knew right?

 

So, this year maybe try to buy a few presents from the above gift guide. Next year a few more. Tell your friends and family. Before long all businesses will need to be social enterprises to respond to consumer demand.

 

Blog post by Gareth Hart, Director of Iridescent Ideas and Chair of the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network. Gareth is a delivery partner on the Heart of the South West 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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Being a social entrepreneur

 

 

Blog post by Rob de Jong, ERDF Operations Manager at School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington, a delivery partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

I’d like to share some personal insights into the highs and lows of being a social entrepreneur. In addition to my role at School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington, I also graduated from one of their Social Enterprise Start-Up programmes in 2014, and am now a real live social entrepreneur in my own right delivering support services to adults with autism in the Plymouth area. My co-operative social enterprise, Working Well With Autism, has been in existence for 6 years, and during this time I have gained many insights into what it means to be a social entrepreneur – or, rather, to be one social entrepreneur working in one particular sector; because we all face different challenges and we all respond differently. To adapt what we often say about people with autism, when you’ve met one social entrepreneur, you’ve met one social entrepreneur…

 

For better or for worse, this is my take from the heart on my own social enterprise journey so far.

 

Make it personal

 

My commitment to my social enterprise is firmly rooted in my own personal experience. For the last 20 years or so, my family life has been shaped by autism. Education, health and social care services were inadequate.

 

At  the end of the day, if you feel angry or powerless about something that is meaningful to you and you want to channel those feelings in a positive way, then set up a social enterprise! You are already carrying your mission inside you– let all that energy out to make a difference…!

 

The personal is political

 

How do you make your personal mission into a social objective – how do you translate your own core values of empathy, humility, love and being truly person-centred into a tangible real benefit for a living, breathing community?

 

In my case, starting a social enterprise came from a need to challenge a lack of provision of essential support services for people with disabilities. We obtained grant funding for a 2-year project called the Plymouth Autism Hub: a safe space for adults with autism to come together and socialise once a week. We worked together in partnership with those using our service; to support, enable and empower people to forge their own destinies and live their own lives. It was the only support service of its kind within the larger Plymouth area, and it was very successful.

 

The local authority were very supportive and we worked together to try to transition the project into the authority as an operational service. In the end, however, there was plenty of genuine goodwill but no budget. Our beneficiaries are not able to pay for such a service, so all we could do was deliver a grant-funded time-limited project – and then take it away…

 

So bear in mind that being a social entrepreneur can be a hard, if personally rewarding, road to follow. Like my own, many social enterprises aim to fill gaps in service provision. But it is difficult to sell a service that people expect to get for free.

 

As a social entrepreneur, you have to be optimistic, driven and innovative, but you also have to be resilient. Sometimes, all you have left to keep you going is a passion for social justice, and that may be enough to carry you through.

 

We all want to do good work

 

To me, the essence of social enterprise is the idea of “good work”, with the ultimate aim to work wholly, fully and unconditionally for others, and to feel comfortable with this.

 

That level of commitment brings its own dangers however – the inability to switch off and the risk of becoming totally involved in other people’s lives. You need to protect yourself against this and put strong boundaries in place. You will be no good to your community or your clients if either you or your business are in poor health. You have to learn to live the paradox of all caring professionals: give yourself fully, but only in working time.

 

These are some of my random reflections. There is no great unified message here for all social entrepreneurs. I just want to give a flavour of the unusual and different challenges we all face, from the inside. Life as a social entrepreneur may feel difficult at times, but we all, in our very different ways, will also experience the exhilaration of knowing that we are making a difference exactly where we want to make it – that is its own reward, and that is worth holding on to.

 

 

Enhance Social Enterprise 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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How will Crowdfunding give your business the right start?

 

 

Blog post by Andy Stuart, Consultant at Real Ideas Organisation. Real Ideas Organisation are a delivery partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

Money. It is the fuel for business. Right? Well maybe, but it is not the only reason why you should consider crowdfunding for your business.  Along with fundraising, there are a number of other pay-offs to conducting a crowdfund campaign which are likely to benefit your business if you listen to what the crowd is telling you.

 

Cash:

 

One of the biggest challenges a start-up faces is capital. Getting some money to invest into your idea so that it can become a reality is a very important task and many social entrepreneurs look at crowdfunding because it offers a chance to raise money without many of the restrictions that come from grant funding. Grant funding is often a very necessary part of running a social enterprise, but many operations come unstuck in the early stages by focussing too heavily on which providers might want to support them. Mission creep becomes a real possibility as people consider the demands of the funder over the goals they have as a business. This can have a negative effect on both the operational model of the business and the intended benefits to their community.
By looking at raising money from their community directly, a business will be actively reinforcing its need and will justify its future existence. As long as you listen, a crowdfund will provide more than cash. In fact, 82% of successful campaigns result in further engagement from the community (RL – Crowdfunder UK, August 2019) and other, non-financial contributions such as time, expertise and experience. If you are prepared to be courageous and ask the community for input as well as cash, you can shape your enterprise into something that you know is going to resonate with them. If your mission creeps this way, you can be confident it is going to have both business and community benefit.

 

Profile:

 

It may seem self-evident, but by creating a crowdfund campaign, a business will put itself forward before not just its own community, but much wider. Most successful crowdfunds are run by people who not only create a great offer for donors, but also push it out into the digital world through the whole gamut of social media outlets. There are roughly 45 million social media users in the UK (Avocado Social – Feb 12) which represents over two thirds of the population and of these, around 39 million are active on mobile devices. This means your audience need not simply by confined to your own geographic area. By actively sharing details of your enterprise through your own networks, it will find its way to literally millions of people as it gets spread. If your campaign is interesting and engaging enough, many people will not only hear about it and have the opportunity to contribute, but they will also be able to become potential customers for the future.

 

Validation:

 

The consequence of getting your message out into the world in this way also highlights another key fact that an enterprise should really take heed of. Does anyone actually care about what I am doing? Many social enterprises get caught up in the small world they inhabit and assume that the problems they see and are trying to overcome, are also perceived in the same way by everyone. The reality is, the thing you are trying to do, may not be seen as a problem by as many people as you think. By carrying out a crowdfund, you get the chance to test the market for when you actually go live and need customers for your service or product. This is by no means an exact science and certainly not the reason in isolation to do or not do, but you have to consider if you are on the right track if your campaign doesn’t ignite a response.

 

Focus:

 

A crowdfund campaign will really focus the mind. By considering what is at stake in terms of creating a profile, testing the market and generating some seed funding, the process will really test you as an entrepreneur to see if your heart and you more importantly, your head, is really in it. One of the most important things to remember about running a business is that not everyone can do it. It takes determination, resilience and the ability to accept that things won’t always go your way. If any of these traits are not in your make up, then running a business may not be for you. It is a world of waking up and getting going, hitting the phones and constant emails, and of going to bed checking your phone before dreaming about what you need to do tomorrow. In short, it is really hard.
If you pass this test – and be honest with yourself – then the pieces of the puzzle should begin to fall into place. You will have success in raising start-up capital, you will identify and begin to develop your future audience, you will have evidence that you are not a lone voice and you will have shown resolve to do what it takes to make your venture work.
Good luck.

 

 

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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Top Tech Tips to save the Planet (or at least make a very small but valuable contribution).

 

 

Blog post by Helen Vines, Social Enterprise advisor at Cosmic which are a Delivery Partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

Thanks to Sir David, Hugh and Anita and other high-profile figures, climate change and plastic waste is finally rising up our collective consciousness. What can we be doing to take action, especially when we’re dashing about, juggling work and play, and now the summer holidays are upon us? Reduce, Re-use and Recycle is a great mantra to be incorporating into our lives. There are so many great choices we can now make to maximise the positive difference we all need to make.

 

So you’ve packed your bags and are heading off for your break with all the essentials, including your phone. How to while away the spare hours on a train, in a car, at the airport? Here are some quick wins to help you with your environmental credentials, and make simple swaps which can save you money, and the planet’s resources.

 

1 Download https://refill.org.uk and easily find the nearest place to reuse your water bottle, reducing single use plastic waste.

 

2 Change your web brower to https://www.Ecosia.org/ For every 45 searches Ecosia pledge to plant a tree. 80% of Ecosia’s surplus is used to plant trees. You can track progress on their app.

 

3 Search for the best deals and switch to a renewable energy provider via: https://www.simplyswitch.com/. Save money and reduce your use of fossil fuels. https://www.uswitch.com offers the same services.

 

4 Start measuring your own carbon footprint and explore ways to offset the energy you’re using with EcoBuddy www.ecobuddyapp.com. Oroeco does something similar www.oroeco.com.

 

5 Download https://www.paperkarma.com/ and when you get back from your holidays you can simply take a photo of any catalogues or unwanted junk mail in the heap behind the front door and Paperkarma will do the rest, unsubscribing you from any unwanted mail, reducing paper waste and plastic packaging. Genius!

 

There are so many apps out there – we have little excuse not to try a make a difference, even on the go. Do let us know any other that you know of – and have a great summer break.

 

PS. Disclaimer – mentioning these apps does not constitute an endorsement.

 

 

 

 

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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Stir to Action festival

 

 

Blog post by Susie Jones, Marketing Officer for the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

From 16 to 18 July myself and Jess Holliland from Dartington School for Entrepreneurs had a stand at the Stir to Action festival which was held just outside Nunney, near Frome in rural Somerset. The first of its kind, the Stir to Action festival is themed around building a new economy and includes inspiring conversations, participatory theatre, live podcasts, interactive workshops, sustainably sourced food, idea surgeries and live music.

 

It was an excellent event with a lot of interesting speakers. We were lucky with the weather, the sun shone the whole time. There was a lot of interest in the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and we made some good contacts including with Cooperative organisations in both Manchester and Taunton. As well as manning the stand I was able to hear some of the talks.

 

Annie Quick from the New Economics Foundation gave a talk Talking about Wellbeing? Talk about Power in which spoke about the Wellbeing Agenda,  how the five ways to wellbeing have proven very popular and the ways in which the Wellbeing Agenda could evolve into the future. She said that it is important that we do not individualise collective problems and that we stop pitting economic against non-economic considerations but instead take a holistic approach to wellbeing.

 

 

 

 

Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council gave a talk New Municipalism during which he spoke about the Preston Model. Preston City Council now procure 80% of their goods and services locally. Future plans include procuring furniture supply, social care and construction locally, and having local government pensions which invest in renewable energy and social housing. He said that their approach has resulted in “a feeling of togetherness and more economic equality.”

 

 

 

 

Other highlights from the event included Richard Bartlett talking about decentralised decision making, Andrew Simms talking about the Green New Deal and a member of staff from Aardman Studios talking about how the organisation has moved to being employee owned and the changes this has meant for individuals within the organisation.

 

We plan to attend the event again next year, and would recommend it to those working in the social enterprise sector looking to engage with other folk passionate about changing the status quo to make way for a fairer, greener and happier world.

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

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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Creating a human economy: the power of purpose properly certified

Blog post by Gareth Hart, Director of Iridescent Ideas and chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network.

 

We recently attended the  Social Enterprise Mark conference in Birmingham. This annual event brings together people from all over the UK and beyond. The theme was Growth for Good and how certification and standards can help businesses grow, be accountable and transparent.

 

The event kicked off with a key-note speech by Andrew Brewerton, Principal of Plymouth College of Art. In a thought-provoking talk, Andrew challenged us to come up with a ‘proposition’ for our work and life. PCA is a Gold Standard Social Enterprise Mark holder and delivers a mission of creative learning and social justice. Their ten-point manifesto includes statements such as “Making is as important as reading, writing, science and maths;” “Art is not about life, it is about living” and “The purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life.”

 

This was followed by presentations from several social enterprises about their work: County Print Finishers from Oxford talked about the power of transformation that social enterprises can bring to individuals. Yateley Industries from Hampshire described their fantastic history and recent challenges and York St John University presented how a social enterprise university is making a difference by helping to create a healthy economy.

 

Day two started with a challenging talk,  ‘Towards a human economy’ from Alex Maitland from Oxfam. Openly describing some of the issues Oxfam is facing at the moment around sexual misconduct and abuse of power, he delivered a presentation full of facts about world inequality and poverty. Statistics that stood out included that 1% of people on earth have bagged 87% of the wealth; $1.3 trillion was paid in dividends in 2017 and that an estimated $7.6 trillion is hidden in offshore tax havens that evade tax. Alex explained Oxfam’s policy towards trying to procure from businesses that stood for ‘profit, purpose and people.’

 

The next panel session saw Jeremy Nicholls of Social Value International explain how he thought accounting and company law needed to change to help build a fairer economy. We particularly liked the laser like focus Jeremy brought to his proposition about where these changes were needed and how, especially in accountancy, the amendments to regulations were not actually that radical in an industry that is seemingly crying out for transformation.

 

We were then part of a panel debate on the certification process itself. Joined by colleagues from Sweden and Scotland the panel discussed how accreditation provided rigour and accountability. Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, described their journey from government to an independent social enterprise and how mental heath is a missing component in economic strategy making. Erika Augustinsson from MSI Sweden talked about how social enterprise in Sweden is looking for an accreditation standard to help define and promote the sector.

 

Our take on this debate was how, if the UK wants to develop a more inclusive, prosperous economy, then economic policy should focus on supporting and developing social enterprises. It is social enterprises that are paying fairly, setting up in disadvantaged areas and applying their work and profits to achieving social missions. These missions are locked in and, unlike standard businesses who claim they have ‘purpose’ and are ‘corporately and socially responsible’, the Social Enterprise Mark and other accreditations can prove this and provide a response to any accusation of greenwashing.

 

We ended with a challenge – rather than fighting amongst ourselves to prove who is holier than whom, we need to create a movement of socially responsible businesses – co-operatives, community businesses, social enterprises, trading charities and others should combine to create a powerful force for a more human and wellbeing economy.

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

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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Management and Leadership Apprenticeships and Social Enterprise

 

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

 

Besides working with Somerset Community Foundation – managing a social investment fund and supporting delivery of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme – I also work as a lecturer for Bridgwater & Taunton College where my principal focus is delivery of new management and leadership apprenticeship programmes.

 

These separate activities combine effectively in that conversation around opportunities for establishing, developing and growing social enterprises always involves thinking about capacity and capability for effective leadership and management.

 

This is closely followed by discussion around time, money and resources to invest in personal and organisational development – or lack thereof.

 

The new management and leadership apprenticeships are part of the government’s strategy to build core competence in organisations across the UK and have been running for over 2 years now.

 

They remain, however, a bit of a mystery to many – even to those working in larger organisations that are paying a 0.5% levy on payroll of £3m or more.

 

So, it may be no surprise to learn that, currently, there are no representatives from social enterprises on the programmes that I teach.

 

This is, in my view, an opportunity missed as the cost to non-levy paying organisations is just 5% of the total cost. For example, a Team Leader/Supervisor apprenticeship – which takes around 18 months to complete and costs £5000 in total – would actually cost the organisation £250.

 

There is then the individual and organisational commitment to completing a programme of work to build a portfolio of evidence of competence around defined areas of skill, knowledge and behaviour and this may include study for a qualification such as a Diploma in Management and Leadership.

 

The benefits to individual and organisation are many and varied – ranging from increased confidence in decision making through improved communication to tangible improvement in individual and team performance.

 

This leads to benefits for customers through improved and more effective service and this is particularly relevant for social enterprises where ‘customers’ include some of the most vulnerable and needy members of communities.

 

So, if you are a social enterprise interested in taking on a Management or Leadership Apprentice, contact your local further and higher education providers.

 

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

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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Make Your Community Hub Fit for the Future

 

 

Video from our ‘Make Your Community Hub Fit for the Future’ event held on 14 March 2019. We have another ‘Make Your Community Hub Fit for the Future’ event coming up at Ivybridge, Devon on 23 May 2019. If you are from a community pub, shop, centre or other social enterprise hub and are interested in attending this event please visit https://bit.ly/2PHkL31

 

These workshops are funded and facilitated by the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme which provides a minimum of 12 hours fully funded business support to social enterprises in Somerset and Devon. For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and to register for support visit the website: https://bit.ly/2CdIIcS

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

 

 

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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Five steps to combating loneliness as a social entrepreneur

 

Blog post by Chloe Tingle, Learning Manager at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington.

 

As a Learning Manager at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington, the thing we hear over and over from our students is how lonely and isolating starting and growing your own enterprise can be. Often quoted as the most valuable take away from our programmes is the network of peers that you develop who just ‘get it’. This is something I have experienced first-hand while developing my own social enterprise, No More Taboo, four years down the line and I think I have cracked the loneliness problem but you are going to have to be brave! Here are my five tips:

 

1. Build your team and spend time with them

Now this might sound daunting but from my point of view the earlier you bring people in on your idea the better. Start with volunteers – yes, they require a bit of an investment in terms of your time to train them up but often what they bring vastly outweighs this initial time cost. By having to consolidate and share your ideas, plans and reasoning for decisions with other real life people (not just your dog) you will often find you are thinking a lot more clearly.

That old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” really is true you will be amazed how much just having someone else involved can make things seem so much less pressured. But don’t just give them a task and leave them to it. The beauty of engaging with a social enterprise as a volunteer is that you get the freedom to do things you wouldn’t usually be able to do, working for another type of organisation. So, ask them for volunteers help, input and ideas. At No More Taboo, alongside our monthly planning meetings, all our volunteers and staff get together once a quarter for a Strategy Day, we always make sure there’s plenty of time for fun and for celebrating our successes (both in and outside work).

 

2. Build your support network

Running a social enterprise is an emotional rollercoaster for one, it’s a unique experience which is why it can be isolating. There are times when it feels like everything has gone wrong and you’ve got no one to turn to. Building up a team of supporters, mentors, coaches and friends that you can turn to in your hour of need is so important. Recently, when I had to make a big decision I spent 3 solid days talking it through with different people in my network (including my mum and some good friends) not just business connections. It’s amazing what a different perspective you can get from a quick 30min phone-call. Don’t be afraid to ask people if they would be happy to be an advisor/sounding board for you – it’s low commitment and high impact and maybe you can return the favour one day.

 

3. Get networking AND socialising

When you are running your own business it is all too easy to say ‘no’ to the many invites you might get. Or alternatively to say ‘yes’ to every single networking opportunity and then be so burnt out you have no time to socialise. It is so important to get the balance right with this one. Think about what you want and need from formal and informal meet-ups. You will be surprised how connections can just come out of the woodwork.

 

4. Sign up for a co-working space

If like many social entrepreneurs you work from home/can’t afford an office it can be difficult to get motivated to meet people in a workplace setting. Signing up to a co-working space even for just a few days a month has so many benefits – you get out of the house, you meet people from different walks of life and you overhear very important conversations which can often save you hours of googling. Those little ‘water cooler’ discussions can make a really big difference to your motivation and efficiency. Remember most people who go hot-desking/co-working want to meet other entrepreneurs and freelancers for the exact same reasons you do. We finally took the plunge and joined a co-working space for No More Taboo last year and I really wish I had done it sooner, we have made so many connections and done lots of ‘trading’ business and skills swapping.

At School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington, we have just launched our very own Social Enterprise Hub aimed at creating a collaborative space for social entrepreneurs to meet, network, discuss and work together. More details here: https://www.dartington.org/about/social-enterprise/sse-hub-membership/

 

 

5. Make the most out of your opportunities to be with others

Go out for that coffee, turn up to that meeting that’s not directly related to what you do, actually talk to that person sat next to you in your co-working space. It’s all very well and good making the opportunities but if you don’t utilise them you might as well just stay home and be lonely.
So be brave!

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme offers fully funded business support to social enterprises in Somerset and Devon. School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners providing support through the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme visit: https://bit.ly/2CdIIcS

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

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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Socially Enterprise Women: Soo Brizell, Shekinah

 

Q&A Between Mark Cotton from Devon Community Foundation, a Delivery Partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and Soo Brizell, Head of Strategic Partnerships & Contracts at Shekinah.

 

Tell us a bit about your organisation, what it does, why it does it and your role
Shekinah is a Devon based charity that works with and supports people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness.

 

We see the person first, so we can work together to enable them to be the person they want to be. To be a voice for individuals with multiple and complex needs. We will achieve this by listening to what they tell us, advocating for what they need and supporting the changes that deliver that.

 

Shekinah is a Devon and Cornwall based charity and has been supporting people who are homeless and in poverty for more than 25years. Shekinah provides opportunities for people in recovery or seeking recovery. This may include recovery from homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, offending behaviours or mental ill health. Shekinah believes that everyone deserves to be given another chance, and a passionate and dedicated team of staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly over the years ensuring that people in crisis are given a variety of opportunities to reach a secure and contented life.

 

Although the injustice of homelessness is at the core of Shekinah’s work, there is an increasing demand from those people with complex needs, including mental health, substance abuse and criminogenic behaviours. Working with key strategic partners, Shekinah helps people access support to help move away from the streets, address their health issues, learn new skills via our training centre and receive help in finding work with the support of the local business community.

 

My role focuses on Partnerships and Enterprise, which means that I work across the local business community, inspiring them to support Shekinah and to help us end homelessness. I manage our business partnerships, charity shops and Shekinah Enterprise which is a social enterprise using commercial contracts in painting and maintenance to provide work based volunteering opportunities for people who have been affected by homelessness.

 

What do you find most enjoyable / rewarding about your work?

 

I really enjoy and thrive on the diversity of my role; from meetings with MD of a large transport company to supporting a young man grow into a key role within Shekinah Enterprise helping him make the right choices to stop his re-offending and reducing his risk of homelessness. I am continuously inspired by the team I work with and the way they work with courage, humility and kindness. I love talking to people with experience of living on the streets and being inspired by their resilience helps me become more determined to help Shekinah end homelessness.

 

How has the Enhance Social Enterprise programme been useful for you and your organisation?

 

The Enhance Social Enterprise Programme has really developed my confidence in identifying how to manage Shekinah Enterprise and how to develop it in a sustainable way. The programme has enabled me to identify other ways in which Shekinah Enterprise can help each person find the right solutions to find a more healthy and purposeful life for themselves with a job and a home.

 

What are your key aims and ambitions following the support from the Enhance Social Enterprise programme?

 

The key aim of Shekinah Enterprise is to continue delivering a quality service on existing contracts we have with Plymouth City Council whilst also looking at developing a female-only team. Having identified a niche in the market, coupled with our experience and reputation a female only team would help attract different customers whilst creating opportunities specifically for women who may have experienced homelessness.
My ambition is to have 4 teams dedicated to delivering viable and commercial contracts across Plymouth and Torbay, creating opportunities for progression for the volunteers that make up the teams and to really make a difference in the lives of those volunteers who are giving their time and skills to Shekinah Enterprise.

 

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

 

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. For more information about the Programme and to register visit: http://www.devon.cc/ese

 

 

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