Baldwins Accountants announces KickStart award for young entrepreneur start-ups


Baldwins Accountants has just announced that its new KickStart awards programme for new-start young entrepreneurs is now open.

The scheme covers the Midlands and Mid-Wales and is open to any new-start young entrepreneur residing in this area aged 18-25 years at the time of the final judging on 19th November and whose business is yet to trade or has started trading on or after 1st January 2015 — more here.

KickStart is an annual award designed to help some of the most aspiring and ambitious young people in the Midlands & Mid Wales take their first step into the world of business.

It offers financial support, mentoring and business advice. The idea is to take raw talent and fresh ideas and help nurture some of these fledgling businesses to success.

The award for each year’s winner will be a £10,000 grant and £10,000 worth of mentoring and accountancy advice, and the two runners up will be presented with £5,000 of mentoring and accountancy advice. The awards had its launch in 2013 and will run annually for 10 years, meaning Baldwins will be handing out a total of £300,000 to aspiring young entrepreneurs.

It is interesting to see an award scheme targeting not just youth enterprise but specifically new-starts rather than established, trading enterprises.

Applications close 31st August 2015.

School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is recruiting


This, just in from SSE Midlands…

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is seeking a Project Co-ordinator.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is part of a highly successful and highly regarded network of learning establishments supporting social entrepreneurs. You will join and support a team of dedicated people supporting inspiring social entrepreneurs who are changing the world for the better.

You will be the first point of contact many have with SSE Midlands and so you will need to be highly customer focussed, super organised, extremely efficient and very IT literate. You will provide the rest of the team with the administrative and project management support they need to be effective. The role will enable you to attend some of the sessions we run which we promise you will find inspiring and informative.

We are looking for the best person so flexible on location and working hours. It is 2 or 3 days per week with a salary of up to £25k per annum (pro rata) based on skills and experience.

Download the Job Description & Person Specification.

The deadline for applications is noon on Friday 21st August. Interviews will be held on Wednesday 9th September.

To apply, send your CV and a covering letter explaining why you think you are the best person for the job to Charles Rapson.

Ashley Community Housing is recruiting…


Ashley Community Housing is seeking to recruit a Business Development and Fundraising Manager to join its office in Birmingham.

The successful candidate will be working with an award-winning specialist housing and training provider. This is a very exciting opportunity for an individual to grow and develop an innovative young business.

The purpose of the job is to promote the aims and purposes of ACH in all areas of activity, to provide strategic leadership, and to take the business forward in the delivery of its strategic and fundraising aims.

Strategic planning for future development is key to this role as the Business Development and Fundraising Manager’s is responsible for developing a pipeline of new business for the company. This requires a thorough knowledge of the marketplace and of the company’s competitors.

The successful candidate will lead and motivate staff in the continuing development of a professional social enterprise that helps vulnerable people move towards independent living. An ability to help the company grow its services in new markets will also be important.

 Full details of how to apply and Job Specification.

Closing date: Friday 14th August 2015.

GBSLEP announces workshops for next round of ERDF calls


Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP has just announced that it is hosting information events on the government’s European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes 2014-20.

ESIF Workshops across the area are planned for:

ERDF Priority Axis 3 – Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs): Wednesday 29 July, 2:00 pm (prompt) – 4:00 pm, Chamberlain Room, Birmingham City Council House, B1 1BB

ERDF Priority Axis 1 – Strengthening research, technological development and innovation: Tuesday 11 August, 9:15 am (prompt) – 12:15 pm, Chamberlain Room, Birmingham City Council House, B1 1BB

ERDF Priority Axis 4 – Supporting the shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors and ERDF Priority Axis 6 – Preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency: Tuesday 11 August, 12:45 pm (prompt) 3:30 pm, Chamberlain Room, Birmingham City Council House, B1 1BB

These workshops will cover the proposed ERDF calls expected to go live in August.

To register your interest in attending a workshop, please send mail to the ESIF team at Solihull MBC. More news on the GBSLEP website.

Women & Enterprise — what’s on July, August & September 2015

Women___Enterprise_-_Helping_Women_in_Business 2

Throughout the summer and into early autumn iSE and the Women & Enterprise programme have some exciting workshops for women who want to start or develop a social enterprise.

27 workshops and events, to be precise. They include:

  • Know Your Market
  • Spotlight! Running a Creative Business
  • North Birmingham Social Enterprise Network Meeting
  • Financing Your Social Enterprise
  • Consortium & Other Opportunities for Sustaining Health & Social Care Organisations
  • Writing Your Growth Plan
  • Branding and Marketing for Social Enterprises
  • Understanding Basic Finance
  • Starting Your Social Enterprise
  • Spotlight! Running a Healthcare Business


And much more.

Places are taken up very quickly so book a place as soon as you can! If you have any queries please email Marija at iSE.

Go to Eventbrite to see all events and book. Please note — events with yellow ‘Book Your Place’ buttons are for Birmingham- and Solihull-based women who want to start or grow a social enterprise or enterprise.

See all posts about the Women & Enterprise programme and the Women’s Enterprise Hub.

Share your memories, bring your old photos — Perry tea dance and project launch

Witton Lodge Community Association is holding a tea dance and launching its “Perry Common and Me” heritage project on the 30th July…

Talent Match Birmingham & Solihull mapping youth employment support initiatives

Talent Match Birmingham & Solihull (TMB&S), a £7.6m Big Lottery funded programme supporting long-term unemployed young adults into employment, has commissioned a team of researchers to map youth employment support programmes and initiatives that can add value to the project.

BVSC, the lead agent for the programme, is particularly interested in identifying programmes, partnerships and initiatives that may have a strategic relationship to the project.

Employment support includes enterprise and social enterprise start-up support for 18-24s.

Responding to the survey will help strengthen links with this important project, improve pathways and referrals, and help influence future delivery and service design in youth employment support. There are two ways to respond:

 If you are a strategic provider, download the document of key research questions/themes and respond to as many of the questions as you are able to. Email your completed questionnaire to David Lane at DiSE. (BVSC defines ‘strategic providers’ “local, regional or national projects working with the 18-24 year old NEET cohort in Birmingham and Solihull that have sufficient scale to enhance or be enhanced by the TM project.”)

Go to the more general online survey for providers. (The online survey can also be provided as a Word document if required — send mail to request this.)

Responses by 27th July 2015 would be appreciated.

The mapping is being undertaken by Development in Social Enterprise.  If you have any questions about the research please ring Maggie Hawker at BVSC on 0121 678 8886 or send her mail.

Wates Group calls on housing and construction sector to do more business with social enterprises


“Social enterprises are the cornerstone to local economic growth and regeneration. We believe that making them an integral part of our supply chain is a sure-fire way to inject capital directly into the economy and we urge our industry peers to join us in this effort.” – Stewart Reid, Business Director, Wates Living Space

Affordable housing contractor, Wates Living Space – part of the Wates Group – has made a renewed call for businesses to increase investment in social enterprises by doing more business with the sector. The company has already traded over £5m with social enterprises across the UK and has set itself a target of increasing this to £20m by 2020.

Stewart Reid, Business Director for Wates Living Space

Stewart Reid, Business Director for Wates Living Space

The company sees Birmingham as central to these efforts. “The city has one of the highest concentrations of social enterprises in the UK, employing approximately 14,600 people across the city,” says Wates Living Space business director, Stewart Reid. “More impressively, there are over 50 registered social enterprises in Digbeth alone, all working for the sole purpose of overcoming economic and social challenges. Our recent ‘Seeing is Believing’ event was a powerful forum to demonstrate their successes in action and to celebrate the strong growth of the city’s social enterprise sector.” Hosted jointly with iSE, the event gave attendees the opportunity to observe a variety of social enterprises in action.

The most recent social enterprise addition to Wates’ supply chain is Birmingham-based Argonaut Community Enterprises, which employs people with disabilities, sensory impairments and learning disabilities. Founded in 2010 by two deaf people committed to improving employment opportunities for those at greatest disadvantage in the labour market, Argonaut now offers a full range of domestic and commercial services including cleaning, laundry, gardening, repairs and maintenance and facilities management. Argonaut Community Enterprises was a SEWM Social Enterprise Awards winner 2013 and is also an UnLtd award winner.

“We’re very proud to say that this appointment is enabling Argonaut to increase sustainable employment opportunities for local people,” says Stewart Reid.

L-to-R: Gill Winstanley, Managing Director, and Mike Brickliffe, Operations Manager, Argonaut; Stewart Reid, Business Director, Wates Living Space

L-to-R: Gill Winstanley, Managing Director, and Mike Brickliffe, Operations Manager, Argonaut; Stewart Reid, Business Director, Wates Living Space

Further evidence of Wates’ commitment to the sector is its recent publication of ‘Communities Count: A practical guide to unlocking social value’, a new social value toolkit that aims to equip housing professionals with a means to embed social value within their organisations and at the heart of their communities.

This kind of constructive, proactive relationship with the private sector doesn’t happen overnight. Huge efforts have gone into fostering this particular relationship with Wates – and a lot of this is down to iSE. We look forward to seeing more companies recognising the importance of social enterprise in their supply chain development and the key role the sector plays in the Birmingham economy.

If you’re a social enterprise providing services that could be of interest to Wates Living Space or the Wates Group send mail to Wates’ community investment advisor, Liam Manton.

Watch Gill Winstanley discussing being part of a private sector supply chain here.

More about the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter here and here. Profile of social enterprises in the DSEQ here.

More about social enterprise on the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership website.




BLF announces ‘Help Through Crisis’ fund of £30m

Document1_pdf__1_page_The Big Lottery Fund has just announced a new ‘Help Through Crisis‘ programme worth £30m aimed at “projects that draw on the strengths and personal experiences of people facing hardship so that they can overcome immediate difficulties and be ready for opportunities and challenges ahead.”

“We are looking,” the funder says, “for projects that provide tailored support, advice and advocacy to enable people to address difficulties and be in a better position to improve circumstances and plan for their future.”

BLF will only fund projects that meet all four of the following outcomes:

  • People who have experienced hardship crisis are better able to improve their circumstances.
  • People who are at high risk of experiencing hardship crisis are better able to plan for the future.
  • Organisations are better able to support people to effectively tackle hardship through sharing learning and evidence.
  • Those experiencing, or who are at high risk of experiencing, hardship crisis, have a stronger, more collective, voice, to better shape a response to their issues.


Grants are expected to be between £300,000 and £500,000 and the deadline for applications is 12:00 on the 26th August 2015.

More on the BLF website.

More on Third Sector Online.

Women’s Enterprise Hub Sparkbrook to open soon

Women___Enterprise_-_Helping_Women_in_Business 2

Further to this post, the Women’s Enterprise Hub Sparkbrook will open soon, offering 3,260 sq ft of newly refurbished office space for women only.

Located in a self-contained part of the Southside Business Centre in Ladypool Road, the Hub has 10 small business units that will accommodate 2-5 people, two ‘hot desk’ areas, a large training room and a meeting room that will accommodate 16 or more people, as well as three ‘showcase’ units which include display space.

Five of the units have glass ‘shop window’ frontages that can be accessed from the street. The Hub will provide not only space, but also the opportunity for networking, peer support and access to business support, with the aim of giving women the boost in confidence they need to succeed in business to the same level as men.

Now is the time to express an interest and get your name down for one of the units or take out a membership to give you access to the hot desk space. The premises have been designed to a high contemporary spec and are suitable for use by existing businesses as well as start ups.

To register or find out more call 0121 663 1711, send mail,  or go to the website

The Women & Enterprise programme offers free business support to Birmingham-based women who want to start their own businesses.

You can find out about forthcoming events here.

Women's Enterprise Hub, Sparkbrook: exterior Illustration

Women’s Enterprise Hub, Sparkbrook: exterior Illustration

Out of this world with The People’s Orchestra

Join The People’s Orchestra at West Bromwich Town Hall on Sunday 18th October for “Out of This World”, a captivating evening of Sci-Fi themed musical entertainment.

Kicking off at 7pm, “Out of This World” will showcase a stunning variety of themes from everyone’s favourite Sci-Fi and Fantasy films. ET, Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future, Harry Potter, and How to Train your Dragon will all feature on the line-up. Tickets are only £5-£10.

Click to go to tickets & information

The People’s Orchestra will also be presenting the first ever performance of “Beyond the Skies”, an original score written exclusively for The People’s Orchestra by award winning composer John Koutselinis, who has previously created music for film directors such as Michael Redwood (Katherine of Alexandria), Danny Wilson (Nephilim), Mel Smith (Director: High Heels and Low Lifes, Radioland Murders-Story by George Lucas), Richard Bazley (Disney, Warner Bros) and Gary Kurtz (Producer: Star Wars IV& V).

You can watch The People’s Orchestra performing John Koutselinis’s “Flight of the Pegasus” at Trinity Mirror Pride of Birmingham Awards last year here.

The concert is on 18th October 2015 and will start at 19:00.


New social housing/enterprise initiative in Digbeth seeks partners

The Adam & Eve pub, Digbeth, acquired for social housing/enterprise development

A new social enterprise initiative designed to redevelop derelict/disused public houses to provide social housing and create enterprise initiatives that offer training, work experience and employment opportunities in the local area is looking for a partner.

The project is working with a Birmingham-based charitable housing association and has acquired The Adam and Eve on Bradford Street in Digbeth.

The aim is for the property to provide accommodation for 15 individuals on the upper floors with a 1500 sq ft commercial area on the ground floor offering enterprise opportunities such as a canteen and bar and retail.

The project is looking for a partner to operate the commercial section as it requires expertise and experience in this area.

An entrepreneur/enterprise/organisation is sought that can contribute on rental, business rates, insurance and utilities for the commercial area as well as invest funds in the ground floor refurbishment.

The project has £10,000 to contribute/help with redevelopment work on the enterprise section.

For more information send mail to Richard Leighton at We Create.

iSE hosts event to help health & social care enterprises become more sustainable

The proposed changes to the funding of third sector delivery of health and social care prevention services in Birmingham and the shift from grant funding to competitive tendering of contracts will require organisations to consider either tendering independently, joining an existing consortium,  or forming a new consortium.

As part of preparing for these major changes, iSE is hosting the following event:

Consortium & Other Opportunities: An Event For Sustaining Health & Social Care Organisations

On: Thursday, 23rd July 2015, 3-6pm
Venue: Muath Centre: Stratford Road, Birmingham, B11 1AR

This event is for you if you are:

» A third sector organisation seeking to join a consortium or start one to access contracts in health and social care.

» A third sector organisation  wanting to provide prevention services supporting adults in Birmingham — serving people with Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, Physical Disabilities and Older People.

Twelve existing consortia have agreed to meet with participants to discuss their membership requirements and provide information concerning how they operate.

It’s your chance to make connections, join existing consortiums and prepare your organisation for new and emerging opportunities.

For more information ring Gary Rogers 0121 771 1411 or send him mail.

 Book here.

GBSLEP chooses new social enterprise champion

Back in April we announced that Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP was seeking nominations for a new post of social enterprise champion.

The selection process has now been completed and we’re delighted that Melanie Mills, previously chief exec of Social Enterprise West Midlands, and currently director of social sector engagement at Big Society Capital, has been chosen.

The social enterprise champion position was created by the LEP following recognition of the sector’s economic and social contribution in the LEP area and its potential to grow further. Melanie’s selection as the GBSLEP’s first ever social enterprise champion is a fitting way to mark this recognition of the sector’s importance. Congratulations, Melanie!

It was an exceptionally strong field of candidates and so a word of thanks should also be said to everyone who stood.  It’s great to see the sector able to operate impressively at this level.

Read the coverage of this story on the GBSLEP website.


NAO says PbR schemes are ill-co-ordinated, lack an evidence-base and have unrecognised risks

sw1I am indebted to my old friend Tony Clabby for spotting this…

The National Audit Office has just published Outcome-based payment schemes: government’s use of payment by results (June 2015).

Press release NAO website          Summary       Full report

The report considers six central government departments known to be using payment by results (PbR), and identifies 52 schemes worth a total of at least £15b in which some element of PbR features.

The report concludes that PbR schemes are poorly co-ordinated, lack an appropriate evidence-base which would enable the effectiveness of the model to be assessed, have heavy unrecognised risks, and in some cases are being used inappropriately by commissioners.

There’s a very thoughtful post considering the report on Russell Webster’s blog, an independent consultant specialising in the fields of substance misuse and crime.

It is interesting to note that we are now seeing contract specifications combining both PbR and social value. Now, they are not the same thing, and shouldn’t be confused, but nonetheless there is a salutary lesson here.

The great advantage of the social value legislation is that it has the potential to help services deliver additional and better outcomes — but that doing this entails no extra cost to the commissioner in terms of incentive payments or contract management and compliance, and it doesn’t need the huge legal, financial and contractual architecture required to make PbR work. In that sense, social value seems to be a commissioning policy tailor-made for our times; PbR, increasingly, doesn’t…

…PbR contracts are hard to get right, which makes them risky and costly for commissioners. If PbR can deliver the benefits its supporters claim – such as innovative solutions to intractable problems – then the increased cost and risk may be justified, but this requires credible evidence. Without such evidence, commissioners may be using PbR in circumstances to which it is ill-suited, with a consequent negative impact on value for money. — Amyas Morse, head of the NAO

Office for Civil Society announces £20m local sustainability fund

What_s_it_all_about____VCSE_DiagnosticNCVO chief exec Stuart Etherington has just circulated an email stating:

I’ve just been chairing the Minister for Civil Society’s first keynote speech since the election. The major announcement was the launch of a £20m local sustainability fund… The fund will provide targeted support for organisations with a strong track record of delivering services which are experiencing current challenges, but which, with targeted support, could secure a strong future.

The fund, which is aimed at voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, is financed by OCS and operated by the Big Lottery Fund; it is accessed through the new VCSE Sustainability website.

Applicants must complete an eligibility checker and a VCSE Diagnostic in order to apply.

Full details here.

Update: Interestingly, Third Sector Online notes today that this fund is a year late in its implementation and half the amount originally projected (£40m) by former civil society minister Nick Hurd.

The People’s Orchestra — an evening with John Altman and friends

The People’s Orchestra presents…

Internationally renowned composer and saxophonist John Altman will be performing at The Ruddock Performing Arts Centre on Saturday 1st August. Mr Altman, who is famed for working with international artists such as Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson will be performing with his own big band for a unique intimate concert. Swing to the sounds of this incredible evening with one of the world’s most prolific saxophonists.

The concert is on 1st August 2015 and will start at 19:00.



Birmingham Changing Futures Together launches with call for more partners

Councillor John Cotton and Brian Carr at launch of Birmingham Changing Futures Together

The official launch of the £10m Birmingham Changing Futures Together project on Friday 19th June was an inspiring event.  The eight year project, led by BVSC, has just reached the end of its first year and is aiming to find new and better ways to support people with multiple and complex needs related to mental health, substance misuse, homelessness and offending behaviour.

Listening to the presentations, three things struck me in particular:

1.  The powerful and positive impact that being involved in shaping future services is having on service users, who have been recruited as ‘experts by experience’ and ‘peer mentors’.

2.  The beneficial approach of a commissioner or funder, in this case The Big Lottery Fund, working in partnership with those to whom funding is given to ensure that money is being spent in the best possible way.

3.  The desire to involve as many organisations and individuals as possible in driving system change – and the willingness to overcome the inherent difficulties that involves, because the benefits of success far outweigh any perceived negatives.

The message which came across strongly is that EVERYONE with an interest in ‘SOS’ – improved Systems, Outcomes and Services – for individuals with multiple and complex needs is invited to get involved.  The more views that are represented the better.  It’s not too late to join in if you are not involved already.  Contact Alana Gooden at BVSC on 0121 643 4343.

Learning and evaluation are key elements of this project, so the opportunity was taken to gather the views of the 120 or so guests at the event who responded to the question: What system changes would help make a greater difference to people facing multiple needs?

But undoubtedly the highlight of the event was the film about the ‘experts by experience’ made by Colonel Duck.  It moved some to tears and a moment of silence at the end of it was followed by loud applause.  Watch it for yourself [tip: it’s in HD — click the full-screen toggle for the full experience].

There is more information about both the launch event and the project on BVSC’s website – see BVSC News and BVSC Birmingham Changing Futures Together – with photographs courtesy of Ian Cuthbert.

Phoenix Singers present summer charity concert

The Phoenix Singers, Birmingham, present a summer charity concert in aid of The Alzheimer’s Society. Performances of Faure’s Requiem and songs from the shows.


Social investment — made understandable, relevant and available

Social_Investment_Workshop_–_Understandable__Relevant_and_Available_Tickets__Birmingham___EventbriteWhat do social investors look for in organisations? What’s it like for a social enterprise to go through the process of securing investment?

Big Issue Invest (BII) and Charity Bank have put together a social investment workshop to answer these questions.

Peter Hughes (Charity Bank) and Kevin Lloyd-Evans (BII) have been working with social enterprises and charities for the past 15 years. They will share their insights and experiences alongside Bromsgrove based charity NewStarts, which recently secured a £400,000 joint investment from BII and Charity Bank (more in this post).

The workshop takes place from 2.00pm-4pm at Unit G2, The Arch, Floodgate Street, Birmingham B5 5SL on Thursday 30th July 2015.

It will be informal, open to all and of particular interest to charities and social enterprises seeking to borrow to:

» purchase a property
» purchase a piece of equipment
» boost working capital to scale up existing operations

You can book here.