New women’s enterprise hub for Birmingham




iSE has been awarded a contract from Birmingham City Council to develop and run a new Women’s Enterprise Hub for Birmingham.

The initiative is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Growing Places Fund.

The plan is to refurbish a part of the existing Southside Business Centre in Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook, and create a space that will be staffed by women to help women in setting up and growing both commercial and social enterprises.

The refurbishment work is due to take six months, but in the meantime the Hub is opening its doors in a virtual sense.

With immediate effect, women can access a variety of tailored support services by contacting the new Women & Enterprise helpline on 0121 663 1711 to start building the confidence and skills they need to succeed in business.

When it opens in Summer 2015, the physical Hub will also offer office space, hot desks, meeting and training rooms. You can register an interest in using these facilities in advance by ringing the helpline.

You can follow the progress of the Hub’s development and find out more about Women & Enterprise here.

Read the full press release.

Sarah Crawley and Marija Sakalauskaite from ISE at the new premises

Sarah Crawley and Marija Sakalauskaite from ISEat the new premises

Birmingham Post Growth Fund offers grants for businesses

The Birmingham Post Growth Fund, in partnership with Bournville College, is now open again for applications.

The scheme, which is financed through the Regional Growth Fund, provides grant funding to help businesses grow and create sustainable new jobs.

Companies can bid for grants of £10,000 to £100,000. The deadline for submitting bids is 1pm on Friday 20th March 2015.

To qualify applicants must:

  • Be situated in and trading from Birmingham, Solihull or Coventry.
  • Employ fewer than 250 employees, have a turnover of less than the equivalent of 50 million euros per annum, and/or a balance sheet of less than 43 million euros; and
  • Demonstrate an ability to ‘match fund’ £3 for every £1 of Growth Funding requested. This can be investment from the company, investment from banks or other lenders.


Read the PDF factsheet.

Go to the Birmingham Post Growth Fund website.




Vulnerability360 is a new website and community of practice concerned with vulnerability in its broadest sense — of children, families, young people, marginalised groups or communities. The project is interested in making available unpublished research, guest blogs, opinion pieces and other materials.

The initiative was developed following publication of a book called Working with Vulnerable Children, Young People and Families (Routledge 2013) and a conference that accompanied the launch of the book.

Peter Tatchell (and here), Alan Gibbons, and Danny Dorling have all done guest blogs for the project.

If you have an interest in this field of work Vulnerability360 would like to hear from you. If you have a topic you would like to write on, materials you would like the website to showcase, or research you want to publicise and/or make available send mail to Terry Potter.

The project also plans to put various chapters of the book on the resources page with free access as soon as it has clarified the legal position with the book publisher.

Santander/UnLtd social enterprise development awards 2015

The Santander/UnLtd Social Enterprise Development Awards (SEDA) programme for 2015 is open for applications!

Working in partnership Santander and UnLtd are providing support to ambitious social ventures with future high growth potential and intensive acceleration services for ventures that are ready to scale up rapidly.

SEDA Catalyst Awards

There are two levels of SEDA Catalyst Awards available in 2015: consisting of £5,000 cash and a 12-month development and growth support package or £10,000 cash and a 12-month development and growth support package.

SEDA fast growth award

The SEDA Fast Growth Award consists of a £20,000 Award and 12 months of intensive growth acceleration services.

You can submit an expression of interest for a Catalyst Award now. The deadline for expressions of interest is 27th March 2015. The deadline for completed application forms is 10th April 2015.

More information on the UnLtd website.

More information on the Santander SEDA website.

UnLtd_-_SEDA_programme 3

BVSC is recruiting for Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better

Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better is a Big Lottery Fund investment in community-led approaches that enable older people who are most at risk of social isolation and loneliness to lead more fulfilling lives across 15 local authority areas in England.

In Birmingham, BVSC is leading a cross sector partnership which has been successful in securing an investment of £6m from the Big Lottery Fund to help reduce social isolation amongst older people for six years.

BVSC is therefore currently recruiting for the following roles as part of this major project:

£31,754 to £40,741 per annum
35 hours per week
Based at 138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR

A Partnership & Delivery Manager to lead and champion the Birmingham Ageing Better programme. You will take overall responsibility for the successful delivery of the programme. You will be a strategic thinker with excellent interpersonal and people management ability in addition to strong project management experience and an expert in Asset Based Community Development. You will have an understanding of the challenges faced and support mechanisms needed to assist older people suffering from isolation.
Closing date for applications – 20th March 2015 (by 10.00am)
Interviews to take place on 31st March 2015

£27,052 to £28,636 per annum
35 hours per week
Based at 138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR

Someone who has contract management and project co-ordination experience. You will have an understanding of the challenges faced and support mechanisms needed to assist older people suffering from isolation as well as having an understanding of Asset Based Community Development. The successful candidate will also have proven experience of partnership working and the ability to actively listen and communicate to a diverse audience.
Closing date for applications – 6th March 2015 (by 10.00am)
Interviews to take place on 19th March 2015

£27,052 to £28,636 per annum
35 hours per week
Based at 138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR

The successful post holder will have numeracy and financial analysis experience. You will have excellent interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to interpret and explain financial information and concepts.
Closing date for applications – 6th March 2015 (by 10.00am)
Interviews to take place on 25th March 2015

£15, 725 to £16, 830 per annum
35 hours per week
Based at 138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR

An experienced administrator with high level customer service skills. You will have excellent I.T. and organisational skills with the ability to multi-task.
Closing date for applications – 6th March 2015 (by 10.00am)
Interviews to take place on 23rd March 2015

For further information or to request an application pack for any of the above mentioned roles please email or ring the Recruitment Team on 0121 678 8899.

Secondments will be considered for all posts.

BVSC is an equal opportunities employer.

What’s happening in social value in the health sector?

As promised in this post, we have now begun to document some of our initial research into current thinking in the health sector regarding social value.

You can read this on the dedicated Health & Social Value pages over on the website.

Colebridge Enterprises reaches 4m motor parts packed and boxed

Some of you may remember that a couple of years ago elsewhere on the website we featured Colebridge Enterprises — in particular the huge changes in direction that had happened there under Charles Rapson’s entrepreneurial guidance and Colebridge’s entry into the automotive parts packaging market.

Well, things have not stood still since then — I’ve just had this urgent email from Charles:

I’ve just being going through the numbers we record each week (our KPI’s).

We have now passed the 4 MILLION mark on the number of car parts we have stuck labels on, folded, taped and stuck in boxes since we started this roller coaster ride at Colebridge Enterprises just over 2 years ago. And there is another 20,000 or so waiting for our brilliant workers to get stuck into on Monday.

Blood, sweat, tears, laughter, stress, frustration, joy, bad singing and hefty sugar rations were all involved.

Shedding another little tear as I type.

Thought you might like to know and share

Charles Rapson
Colebridge Enterprises Ltd.

Charles in my experience is not easily moved to tears, so this must be significant news! Congratulations to everyone involved.


Cakes in a good cause!

UnLtd is holding a cake sale to benefit The Wellbodi Partnership, Sierra Leone.

Just drop in to Unit G2 The Arch, Floodgate St, Digbeth, between 11.30am and 1.30pm.

Lord Young review of social value — report published

We noted in this post that just two years into its life, implementation of the Social Value Act was being reviewed. The evidence-gathering and consultation happened at the very tail-end of last year and the report has just been published today (13/02/15). You can read it in full here.

Or you can pop over to the Policy Issues section on the BSSEC website and read our synopsis of the report, along with a commentary on what we felt its important points to be.

And if you can’t even wait to do that, then here’s a taster of the most important outcomes. While concluding that a mandatory extension of the Act would be premature, the report recommends:

  • Work within Whitehall to raise awareness and understanding across government departments.
  • Work with Cabinet Office SME champions to help private sector businesses understand social value better.
  • The establishment of a social value steering group with NHS England and the NHS Sustainable Development Unit to ensure better progress on social value in health.
  • Inspiring Impact be engaged to develop an appropriate measurement system for SV.
  • That current procurement thresholds detailed in the Act do not rise to the new 2015 OJEU threshold of €750,000.


You can see all of BSSEC’s materials on social value here:

Main category — Public Services and Social Value

Interesting video debate on social value with a panel including Hazel Blears MP

Birmingham City Council and social value

→ Useful resources

→  Social value — one year on

Key findings from two years’ work

 New Ideas on Social Value — event report (Dec 2014)

→ All blog posts tagged ‘social value’

Get behind the “City Drive” to promote the social enterprise sector in Birmingham


iSE and the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter have just posted more news about the forthcoming “City Drive” events over on the DSEQ website. Read more here, including an outline of events.

City Drive is about raising the profile of social enterprise across Birmingham and getting everyone shopping for change or buying for good. Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter is planning to host a week of events to showcase the work the sector is doing, from Monday to Friday the 20th-24th April 2015 inclusive.

Local MPs and Councillors, companies, citizens and students, public sector organisations as well as the charity, voluntary and social enterprise sector will be invited to attend marketplaces and seminars, walks and talks to see and hear about the diverse enterprises engaged in tackling social issues by doing business in a different way.

If you’ve got ideas about how you can support, host, sponsor or arrange an event to take place on one of the City Drive days, Marija at iSE wants to hear from you.

Check the information on the DSEQ website and then email Marija or call her on 0121 771 1411.

And don’t forget this post, also about City Drive, inviting SEs to put themselves forward to be considered as “City Drive” case studies. That offer is still open, but a big thank you to the almost forty SEs that have already put themselves forward so far. If you would like your business to feature as a case study in theCity Drive book please email Marija or call her on 0121 771 1411 by Feb 25th 2015.

You can read more about Social Enterprise Places and the role of city and town drives over on the SEUK mini-site.

iSE is looking for social entrepreneurs to be “City Drive” case studies

This just in from iSE…

iSE is organising a “City Drive” to promote awareness of social enterprise to the local economy. We will be holding a series of events over 20th-24th April 2015.

Would your social enterprise like to be a case study to celebrate social entrepreneurship in Birmingham? We are looking to produce a short book to promote the sector and are seeking social enterprise stories to be included.

If you want your social enterprise to be featured in the book, please let us know before the 25th of February by sending Marija mail or ringing me on 0121 771 1411.

Get in touch as soon as possible as it is a great opportunity for you to promote your business and reach wider audiences!

Warm wishes

GBSLEP roadshow events to promote EU structural and investment fund opportunities — dates & venues confirmed

GBSLEP recently announced that it would be holding briefing roadshows to alert organisations to forthcoming opportunities arising from the LEP’s European Structural & Investment Funds strategy.

Dates and venues for these events now confirmed. Please see below.

ESIF roadshows

Download PDF flyer.

Please note — to register your interest in attending please send mail to Strategic Services/Economic Development — Solihull MBC.

Make It Sustainable Ltd seeks new Trustees

This just in from Make It Sustainable Ltd /The Old Print Works

Make It Sustainable Ltd (MIS) manages The Old Print Works (OPW), founded to enhance making skills, and in so doing reinforce wellbeing, community, low-carbon, re-education, employment, arts and heritage.

Our primary purpose is to promote the making skills that are declining in our society, particularly among the young, and provide exciting spaces in which to work. Currently many people don’t know how even the simplest items are produced. There is very little hand-skills training in schools or at home. In the current unprecedented financial and ecological crisis, the UK would be much more resilient if we had making and repairing skills, understanding of materials, and produced more of our own goods. Making is central to our vision, to motivation of people and to the economy itself.

Make It Sustainable is a charity and a company limited by guarantee and has vacancies on its Board of Trustees. This is an exciting time as the charity seeks to take a new step upwards in its journey to delivering more opportunities for the residents of Balsall Heath, Birmingham, and beyond.

MIS is interested (though not exclusively) in hearing from those with expertise in community development, business, ecological construction, legal issues, accountancy and marketing & communications. If you think you could input creatively to our charity and add something to our board meetings, please send your CV and a covering letter telling us how you could help us consolidate and improve our charity’s operations and achieve our objectives.

Time commitment: up to 6 meetings per year

Duration: 3 year term, extendable by 3 years

Applications due by Monday 2nd March 2015 to this email address, please.

Hannah Greenwood
Make It Sustainable Ltd

Social value — central government is weakest link, says Blears

Further to this post and this, Third Sector Online has just reported a speech made yesterday by Hazel Blears MP at the Social Enterprise UK ‘Social Value Summit 2015‘ conference.

Blears, an outspoken member of the cross-parliamentary review team led by Lord Young, which is reviewing implementation of the Social Value Act, is quoted as saying that the report will be most critical of central government commissioning. Its commissioning practices, she says, “are the weakest link”.

We have got lots of local authorities doing this, lots of good private businesses doing this and social enterprises absolutely get this. Central government really needs to push on. — Hazel Blears MP

Blears has also said she would like the Prime Minister to ask each secretary of state to produce a report outlining what their department is doing to implement the legislation.

The review is also likely to include a call for public bodies to appoint social value champions. Blears herself has also said she is in favour of the government issuing ‘light touch guidance’ to public authorities because they need it.

The Cabinet Office says Lord Young’s report will be available at the end of February.

We will also be interested to see what the report has to say about the health sector, because here too implementation of the Act seems extremely under-developed.

We are currently looking at how the health sector is approaching social value as part of the second phase of our Barrow Cadbury Trust-funded project and so far we have found only one CCG that has published a social value strategy, with explicit reference to what social value priorities it is seeking and how its commissioning teams should go about doing this.

However, where CCGs are beginning to consider social value, they are approaching it from a perspective quite different to that of local authorities. You can get a flavour of that difference in this post.

We’ll be reporting further on this in the future.

Read all our posts on social value.

 UPDATE 06/02/15: You can watch videos from all the Social Value Summit 2015 workshops over on SEUK’s dedicated website and keep up to date with social value developments and new materials and research on the Social Value Hub.

Do you know that your business could qualify for a free mobile App?

Bournville College in partnership with bsmart media is currently able to offer SMEs — including social enterprises and third sector organisations — in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area development of a FREE smartphone App.

This offer is the result of an ESF-funded project and it ends on the 13th February!

The partners are keen to ensure that social enterprises and third sector organisations, as well as the private sector have been able to take advantage of this — so if an App could help you and your business you need to get cracking and apply now.

Call Sarhran Guy on 0121 501 2243 or send her mail now.

Read the full PDF flyer.

Read the terms/conditions.


BBC Children in Need seeks volunteer committee members and freelance assessors

BBC Children in Need is currently recruiting volunteer committee members, for its Regional Advisory Committee in the Central region. Information here.

We are also recruiting freelance grant Assessors. Information here.

Anyone interested in the committee roles can contact Melinda Connelly, Regional Manager, for an informal chat — ring 0121 567 7120 or 07720 671423, or send mail.

Anyone interested in the Assessor roles can contact the regional office for more details — ring 0121 567 6707 or send email.


St Barnabas enters boutique cinema market

Following the success of its recent silent film night, the ever-enterprising St Barnabas Church Centre, Erdington, is venturing into the boutique cinema market with its own film club.

It kicks off a season of classic films — films you may have missed and films you love and want to see again — with George Clooney in the Coen brothers’ O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (fifteen years old this August, believe it or not) and continues with, amongst others, GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (starring Ralph Fiennes and barely a year old), the classic AMELIE (Audrey Tautou), and Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW.

Tickets are about half of what a multiplex seat will cost you — and refreshments are served at your seat.

Great films, good causes, community benefit.

For bookings, info, tickets contact Paul Hanna at the St Barnabas Church Centre — send mail or ring 0121 306 4820 / 07547 431 244.


GBSLEP announces roadshow events to promote EU structural and investment fund opportunities

GBSLEP has recently announced  that throughout February and into March it will be holding briefing roadshows to alert organisations to forthcoming opportunities arising from the LEP’s European Structural & Investment Funds strategy.

Venues and timings are still being sorted out but the dates announced are as follows:

  • Wed 18th Feb
  • Wed 25th Feb
  • Wed 4th Mar


To register your interest in attending and to be added to the mailing list to receive further information as it becomes available please send mail to Strategic Services/Economic Development — Solihull MBC.

Gateway Family Services CIC is recruiting

Gateway Family Services CIC is seeking to recruit a full-time HEALTH TRAINER.

Gateway says:

This role involves engaging with individuals from target groups to support them in learning how to make better health choices. You must have the natural ability to build effective relationships, be approachable and have an outgoing personality.

You will already have some experience of supporting people and have excellent listening skills. Working across the city you must be flexible in your approach and have good planning and organisational skills.

All of the details, including job description and person specs are here.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Thursday 12th February 2015.

Social Investment – the Ongoing Debate

The BSSEC blog dated 14th January Gerrymandering Social Enterprise, linked to an interesting article summarised well by Alun Severn, is clearly only part of the increasing debate about social investment/social finance and the social enterprise sector.

As ART probably led the way in the UK as BOTH a social enterprise and a social investment intermediary (Community Development Finance Institution – CDFI), making loans to businesses and social enterprises, I feel the time for adding my thoughts to the reflection and comment on the state of the market is right.

I have to confess that I was in partial agreement with some of the case made in the original article, which I am told by those in the know is an extension of a long held belief by the author and followers that ‘if you want to grow social businesses, you really need long term, patient financiers, who are prepared to lose their money or take low returns’.

The author’s take on where you get this kind of money is from local social investors, who can be close enough to the locality and the problem to both want to fix it and understand the local context well enough to make good investments. This chimed with ART’s beginnings.

ART raised funds in 1997 from local and national companies and from individuals who were seeking social change.  They were all prepared to make a social investment, not being promised or even expecting a financial return. In 1997 this was a real social investment. The social return being that ART would provide access to finance where banks were unable to help and support local jobs for local people through enterprise. The capital would in the plan not be lost.

We still have the money safe and sound in our balance sheet and it continues to be used for the social and economic purpose intended. We have supported and levered additional finance over the years from public and private sectors to support the mission – local jobs for local people.  We have now lent over £17m and the businesses and social enterprises we have helped have created or preserved over 6000 jobs.

The pool of investors prepared to forgo any financial return was too small for expansion and we soon needed to seek policy guarantee funds/local government/ARI-type money and national Regional Growth Funding to underpin the lending operation and enable ART and other CDFIs to raise funds from commercial sources.  Some of the early stage money even emerged from banks under their Community/CSR budgets as grants.

In discussing the ‘Gerrymandering and Social Enterprise’ article with one of the fellow co-founding social investors at ART, Danyal Sattar, who now resides at Big Society Capital, Dan made the point that there is a pretty substantive social investment movement out there that isn’t all about social enterprise – CDFIs, the Social Banks (Triodos, Ecology BS, Charity Bank, even Unity), community share issues, overseas stuff like Shared Interest, Traidcraft.  A bit of microfinance perhaps; include personal lending and credit unions with 900,000 members, and things start getting pretty substantive.  All of that could be classified as a big spectrum of Social Investment.

This is, in my opinion, where the social investment sector remains in difficulty especially linked to the public sector and social enterprise, with many counter arguments.  Nearly all the social finance organisations retitled by Big Society Capital as ‘Social investment financial intermediaries‘ seek a financial and social return and it appears that there is a blurring in the line of what the public sector will inject (grant) or invest for their policy return.

The ongoing challenge is to satisfy the two camps in the social enterprise world – those seeking long term low cost funding up to £250K (probably main demand level £100K) and those providing the capital who need a financial and social return.

There is further interesting discussion in an article on Pioneers Post although I have to say the round table debate it reports on clearly lacked anyone with an understanding of risk/reward and sustainability from a lending viewpoint.

No doubt the debate will continue…