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 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. For more information about the Programme and to register visit:

Be the first to Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.