Socially Enterprising Women: Caroline Blackler, Red Velvet Cinema and Samantha Norris & Aynsley Jones, Axminster Health & Wellbeing Centre

 

Blog post by Mark Cotton, Financial Sustainability and Social Investment Mentor at Devon Community Foundation. A Delivery Partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

So it seems it’s my turn to take up the Enhance Social Enterprise blog platform again. Last time I talked about the value of social investment in supporting the growth of the social enterprise economy, but this time I want to focus on the hugely important role that people play in social businesses. And as it has recently been International Women’s Day what better time to shine the spotlight on just a few of the many inspirational women I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last 18 months on the Enhance Social Enterprise programme.

 

Social Enterprise UK recently reported that the proportions of small and medium-sized social enterprises run by women are high compared to their mainstream business equivalents. Indeed, the smaller a social enterprise is, the more likely it is to have a woman as a leader. So, in recognition of the vital role that women play in our sector, I spoke with Caroline, Samantha and Aynsley who very kindly agreed to share some of their thoughts with us here:

 

Caroline Blackler of Red Velvet Cinema

 

Tell us a bit about your organisation, what it does, why it does it and your role

 

Based in Devonport, Red Velvet Cinema is a community cinema for ‘older’ people, primarily those who are lonely and socially isolated. We screen ‘Classic’ films, once a fortnight, after which time is set aside for conversations and companionship, fuelled by tea and cake. During this time those that come often come on their own and this time it really is important for allowing familiarity and through this relationships & friendships to develop.

 

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

 

Looking after people; seeing relationships blossom; seeing individuals become comfortable with each other through continuity of the cinema, repetition and familiarity. The audio level of the ‘chatter’ in the room – happy people talking to each other. Individuals becoming comfortable with the ‘space’ that is Red Velvet Cinema and each other.

 

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

 

It’s been fundamental. Without the support the Red Velvet Cinema would not have continued; lonely individuals would not have been able to look forward to it; would not have been able to come; would not have been able to ‘fill their time’. The support of those employed in the programme to help fledgling enterprises such as Red Velvet Cinema has been very valuable; providing support; practical help and mentoring has helped me feel more confident about the external world of funding and ‘company’ development, areas of which I have had little experience.

 

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

 

We want to continue providing a safe and welcoming space for lonely and vulnerable people to come and feel less lonely in their lives.

 

Samantha Norris & Aynsley Jones of Axminster Health & Wellbeing Centre

 

Tell us a bit about your organisation, what it does, why it does it and your role

 

Axminster Health and Wellbeing Centre is a charity and Complementary Therapy Centre working with a large team of therapists and holistic movement teachers and a group of volunteers. Our vision is to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Axminster and the surrounding area and thanks to the support from several funders and mentoring from Enhance Social Enterprise we have been able to deliver our mission of offering low cost complementary therapy and holistic movement to all who are experiencing pain and or anxiety.

As Centre Managers our role is to ensure the smooth running of all of our services and to expand and develop our mission.

 

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

 

“I can see the direct benefits to people’s health and happiness and also I can observe people become more active in the community as a result of engaging with our services” – Aynsley
“I thoroughly enjoy delivering our services and working with all the people connected with the charity. I also find researching theory and practice of complementary therapy and understanding the human mind-body connection very rewarding” – Samantha Norris

 

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

 

It has been very useful in helping us establish a clear vision and mission for the charity.

 

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

 

Our scheme already sits perfectly within the wider healthcare field, complementing relaxation activities promoted by East Devon District Council and the medical services available through the National Health Service. We also complement the work of Health Watch Devon, Leisure East Devon and have a similar mission to Public Health England.
Our ambition is for our service model to be replicated and rolled out across the country and therefore feature in a thoroughly integrated healthcare system.

 

 

 

For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, and to register, visit https://www.devon.gov.uk/economy/business-support/enhance-social-enterprise/

 

 

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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