UnLtd to host event for social entrepreneurs working in access to employment — join guests for drinks/networking

On the 16th October 2018 UnLtd will be hosting a peer learning event for social entrepreneurs who work in Access to Employment.

The event will bring together social entrepreneurs from across the UK, as well as people in government and mainstream business, to address barriers to scale at both the individual and system level. Attendees will include those on UnLtd’s Thrive programme, its Impact Fund investment ventures and other ventures working in Access to Employment.

After the main business of the day participants will move on to The Pitcher & Piano for drinks and networking — and you are invited. If you are involved in any way in access to employment provision, then this is an excellent (free!) opportunity to exchange experience, find out new ideas, and meet other Access to Employment providers from across the UK.

No booking is necessary — just turn up and join UnLtd and its guests for drinks and networking from 5pm at the Pitcher & Piano, Brindley Pl, B1 2HP.

Live from Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 — Edinburgh, day 2

Blogging live from this year’s Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh, Sarah Crawley has just sent her latest update.


Well it really has been an amazing start and I hope the next two days are as good as Wednesday was!

Scottish musicians and especially drummers formally opened the Forum bringing the 1400 people together from 45 nations. To give an idea of other countries’ commitment to social enterprise there are over 140 people here from Canada, over 60 from New Zealand and 150 from Taiwan! Quite impressive and in fact 53% of the delegates are international.

There were three plenary sessions yesterday following the opening speeches from politicians and one completely stole the show. Work has been going on in Scottish schools to help young people experience social enterprise. This presentation was awesome and covered two examples that both started with the issues young people themselves wanted to address — one from a primary school and the other from a secondary school. Both understood that they needed to trade if they were to solve the problem and d this in way that would make their efforts sustainable.

The primary school took as their issue family integration. It is a multicultural school with many nationalities represented: often the language spoken at home is not English (or Scottish!). This group started a café and baking session on Friday afternoons in the school and raised money for family activities. This has led on to additional intergenerational work.

The other idea involves reducing plastic waste and is very clever — and this, by the way, came about as a result of the young people themselves steering, not the adults!

This group identified that there needed to be water points around Edinburgh to reduce waste from plastic water bottles and their business raised money to develop a map of water bottle refill points with signage. This work continues and is growing.

I think these young people can teach us all something.

It would be good replicate some of this work in Birmingham and work with young people so they can solve their own issues using social enterprise.

Sarah Crawley (left) with Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Other sessions yesterday covered inspirational social enterprises. An amazing one from Indonesia where they have worked to establish a more effective marketplace for over 900 indigenous farmers, supporting their businesses and growing their income to encourage young people to remain in farming. Across Asia young people are moving to cities for work and 1 million farms are being lost a year. This woman is doing amazing work!

My final highlight was my invitation to Edinburgh Castle to the welcome session by Nicola Sturgeon. The real understanding by Scottish politicians of social enterprise, its role in the economy, community and regeneration, is really impressive.

For those who are interested and who like me have never been to Edinburgh Castle, I was really surprised at how high and how very steep its location is — definitely built to stop invaders!

Signing off —

See all Sarah’s posts from this and previous SEWFs

Edinburgh Castle and Castle Rock — evidence of human occupation since the Iron Age

Live from Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 — Edinburgh

As we wrote in this post, the Social Enterprise World Forum has returned to the UK after 10 years of travelling the world, one continent at a time, and this year’s host city is Edinburgh.

As in previous years, Sarah Crawley has kindly offered to do some live blogs so that those of us who haven’t gallivanted off to Scotland can share the excitement. It’s her first day’s account — here goes.


Sarah has just posted this:

I arrived at the World Forum full of excitement, really looking forward to an action packed four days of networking, new idea harvesting and meeting inspirational people.

My week started early with a meeting of leads for all the Social Enterprise Places. There are now 26 recognised SE places in the UK, mostly in England as well as some new additions internationally. Both Digbeth and the city of Birmingham are Social Enterprise Places, representing the sector’s commitment to working together to grow the businesses within them, catalysing their impact in a ‘place’. It’s a fabulous initiative and iSE are proud to be secretariats to this work.

The meeting was fascinating — the places are enormously different — with geographically small areas like Digbeth or Alston Moor, towns and Boroughs like Hackney, cities (Plymouth) and regions (Cornwall), and a mix of rural and urban areas with their distinct characteristics.

The challenges, however, are the same, with each ‘place’ wanting to grow their local social enterprise sector to maximise impact. Although the ‘how’ might be slightly different, it was great to share learning, ideas and to inspire one another.

At 4pm we boarded a coach with a group of visitors from Taiwan, to be given a tour of some of Scotland’s trailblazing social enterprises. Some of the SEWF2018 Board Members and I went to celebrate the launch of Callander as the first Scottish Social Enterprise Place.

Sarah outside the SEWF18 venue

It was a fabulous evening of traditional Scottish dancing, not forgetting the customary bagpipes and display from the local children. It was great to see the young people benefiting from the SE Place, the Outlanders – a local clan in full kilts, a Scottish Minister and of course all of the sector supporters.

What a great start to the World Forum, we’re looking forward to what day two has in store!


See all Sarah’s posts from this and previous SEWFs

Read more over on the iSE website


Birmingham Black History Month 2018 — launch announced

The Blackstory Partnership is back for the third year running with this year’s Black History Month, running for five weeks from the 24th September to the 4th November.

The launch event is on the evening of Tuesday 25th September at Town Hall, Victoria Square, and is free.

More information and bookings here.

BSSEC publishes sixth annual report

We’re very pleased to publish our sixth annual report covering the financial year 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018.

We have continued to support and promote City Drive, annual celebration of social enterprise in Birmingham, which has gone from strength to strength, thanks largely to iSE’s efforts and the time and energy its many participating social enterprises and supporters put into the week-long series of events.

During late-2017/early-2018 we were also successful in securing a second Awards for All grant which we have been using to help promote the work of newer, younger social enterprises.

We have also continued our work on social value, for which we gratefully acknowledge the financial support of The Barrow Cadbury Trust.

Membership has increased from eighteen to nineteen with the addition of recovery charity Changes UK, which is making considerable use of user-led social enterprise formation in its programmes.

The wider operating climate continues to be extremely difficult for many social enterprises, as it does for businesses generally, but we continue to be impressed by the vigour and optimism we see in the sector. The appetite for social enterprise – for trying to do things differently, for trading with a social purpose – is not diminished in Birmingham and Solihull.

See all Annual reports on the BSSEC website
Direct link for Sixth Annual Report

Calling social enterprise and third sector employers — could you use an extra pair of hands?

University College Birmingham business school is looking for charities, businesses and social enterprises in Birmingham that may be able to offer voluntary work experience for students in the next academic year.

UCB’s business school students study Marketing, Events, Finance, HR and Admin amongst other areas and are motivated to gain crucial employability skills, such as team work and organisation.

Last year students exceeded their own expectations in the workplace and employers were impressed with the effort the students dedicated to their placements.

There are two placement models. Students on the Business course are expected to complete 50 days or more with their employer (including day release and block weeks) and can therefore work on longer term projects and build long term relationships.

Students on the Business Enterprise course are expected to complete 10 days+ of work experience during the academic year, and this offers a shorter term option both for them and for employers.

Hosts receive support from UCB at every stage in the work experience, including selection, the aim being to match students’ skills and experience to your opportunity.

If your enterprise would like to host a UCB placement student please call Nicola Machin now on 0121 232 4157 or SEND MAIL.

Birmingham Social Enterprise City — what can you and your enterprise do?

Outside of London, Birmingham has the greatest single concentration of social enterprises. Now, building on our success in establishing the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter, social enterprises in Birmingham have set their sights even higher and have now secured SEUK’s official recognition of Birmingham Social Enterprise City. We celebrated this at the grand closing ceremony of City Drive 2018.

There will be a grand launch of Birmingham Social Enterprise City on the 15th November 2018, but as we move towards that date we now need to do more to begin to realise the ambitious plans the partnership has set out for Birmingham Social Enterprise City.

The action plan for  Birmingham Social Enterprise City has FOUR KEY AIMS:

(1) To ensure that Birmingham Social Enterprise City is widely acknowledged and widely understood amongst mainstream media, public and business community.

(2) To co-ordinate and increase support for social enterprise start-up and sector growth.

(3) To build a new alliance for social change and community benefit across the whole of the social economy — social enterprises, ethical businesses, trading third sector, social mission businesses and the private sector.

(4) To stimulate employment and training opportunities especially for young people in social enterprises in Birmingham.

Under iSE’s leadership a steering group has been set up but more active members and more active social enterprises that want to be part of driving forward Birmingham Social Enterprise City are urgently needed.

Birmingham Social Enterprise City won’t happen just because we say it will. It must be a collective endeavour with as many social enterprises as possible making a contribution wherever they feel able.

Here are some ways you and your enterprise could get involved:

» There will be rolling campaigns to promote Birmingham Social Enterprise City (Aim 1). Perhaps you and a group of like-minded enterprises can lead on an activity?

» Clusters of social enterprises will be encouraged to work collectively to focus outcomes and impact on specific social needs or problems (Aim 2). Perhaps you can take a lead in a cluster you belong to?

» The Birmingham Social Enterprise City steering group should form the basis for a much wider and more active and campaigning alliance for social change and community benefit (Aim 3). How? Who has vital new ideas for achieving this?

» And there are plans for events to promote working in social enterprises — especially targeting young people (Aim 4). Perhaps this is core to your enterprise’s work and values and you can lead on an early campaign?

Download the action plan and have a look to see where your social enterprise can make a contribution.

Please send offers, ideas and pledges of support to Sarah Crawley — SEND MAIL.

Watch this space for further news of Birmingham Social Enterprise City.

Changes UK is recruiting

Birmingham’s fastest growing recovery charity, Changes UK, which is making great strides in  helping establish user-led social enterprises as part of its support programmes, is recruiting.

There are three vacancies:

Social Enterprise Manager
Location: Recovery Central, 9 Allcock Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4DY
Salary: £30,000 per annum pro-rata
Hours: Permanent/Full Time

Deadline: 7th September at 5pm

Full details, job description & how to apply

Operations Manager
Location: Recovery Central, 9 Allcock Street, Birmingham and other Changes UK properties as required
Salary: £35-£40,000/annum
Hours: 37.5 hours/week

Deadline: 15th August at 12pm

Full details, job description & how to apply

Office Administrator
Location: Recovery Central, 9 Allcock Street, Birmingham and other Changes UK properties as required
Salary: £17,950 pro rata (Dependent on Experience)
Hours: A flexible 30 hours a week is worked which may include occasional evenings.

Deadline: PLEASE NOTE — the deadline for applying for this post is TODAY, Friday 10th August

Full details, job description & how to apply

New research finds that devolution deals are doing nothing to address women’s inequality

Some may argue that what follows has little to do with social enterprise or the wider third sector. I disagree. Inequality is of critical interest to all organisations that are committed to giving practical expression to equality both in what they do and in the employment practices they operate.

And this is why Making Devolution Work for Women: West Midlands Data Report, new research just published jointly by BVSC, The Fawcett Society and West Midlands Women’s Voice, is so important. Focusing on the West Midlands, one of the ten devolution deals so far struck with the government, the report looks at devolution through the lens of gender equality and finds that judged against any measure you might care to choose — employment levels, skills, pay, caring responsibilities and, yes, even transport (such a prominent feature of the WM deal) — devolution is not delivering for women.

The report finds that women in the WM are paid on average 13.9% less than men. They are also less likely to be employed than men — there is a gender ’employment gap’ of 12.4%, wider than the UK, and widening while the UK gap is gradually closing. Only 10% of better paid jobs in the WM are advertised as flexible and thus more likely to accommodate women with caring responsibilities. And perhaps needless to say, all of these factors hit women from BME backgrounds hardest. White women have an employment rate of 67.8% across the WM, but amongst women from all BME groups the employment rate is only 48.5%. Black and Black British women have an employment rate of 56.8% while amongst Pakistani and Bangladeshi women this tumbles to only 35.7%.

We also know from TUC research published in 2015 that the West Midlands has a major problem with low pay, including entrenched low pay hot-spots across the region.

But this research is important for other reasons too. While the WMCA is making substantial efforts to engage more widely in developing policies that will meet its inclusive growth agenda this research offers a practical starting point to anyone who might be struggling — like me — to work out what priorities one should expect to see “inclusive growth” addressing. It also performs a further huge service. For too long ‘devolution’ has been the preserve of local government policy anoraks; the publication of this data gives us a much needed critical framework in which to assess devolution, and the importance of this cannot be overstated.

If we are to have economic growth policies in the West Midlands capable of promoting inclusive growth then this surely has to mean policies that actively reduce inequalities rather than widen them, as seems so often to be the outcome when economic growth is the primary or over-riding consideration.

I think it’s fantastic to see BVSC, The Fawcett Society and West Midlands Women’s Voice working together on this and everyone involved should be congratulated. 

One final point must be made, however. If this report is treated only as a stick with which to beat the WMCA, its impact will be limited. The task now is surely to try and ensure that its concerns are embedded not just in every aspect of the WMCA’s policy-making apparatus but also in its politics.

 BVSC — More about Making Devolution work for Women.

 Fawcett Society — More about Making Devolution work for Women, plus FULL REPORT; plus INFOGRAPHICS.

Infographic from Making Devolution Work for Women




Fuse — social enterprise start-up support

iSE runs a number of different FUSE social enterprise start-up programmes throughout the year. The programmes are for people who want to develop a business that is financially sustainable but also (and importantly) delivers a strong and measurable social impact.

The Fuse is for social entrepreneurs, innovators and change-makers near trade or at early-start stage that want to fast-track their social enterprise, grow networks, develop collaborative opportunities and develop sustainable businesses that create social impact.

What to expect

iSE will work intensively over a period of 5 months, supporting you through group pow-wow sessions which will be practical and focused around developing your social enterprise.

Topics covered include the business model canvas, developing a robust social mission, building a community and networks, social media and marketing, understanding numbers, funding and alternative social finance, social impact and developing your pitch.

Sessions will take place every other Tuesday from September through to January. Timings are TBC. There may be other events that fall outside of the programme that you can attend, and these events may be shared with people from other programmes.

FUSE doesn’t happen by itself and iSE works with a number of funders and sponsors who understand the power that social enterprise can have in changing lives and communities. Because of this sponsorship, The Fuse programme is free for you.

You will be receiving the equivalent of £1,500 of valuable business support. FUSE programmes are always oversubscribed and it is impossible to bring in “substitutes” later.  iSE therefore asks that participants agree to attend all sessions and complete the programme.

FUSE is a programme that grows, changes and learns and you will be asked to help with this. iSE will ask you to fill in simple evaluation sheets at the end of each session and at least once in every programme an iSE team member will ring you to check how things are going.

If you want to be part of the FUSE programme you must complete an application form by the closing date of the 22nd August 2018. If shortlisted you’ll be invited for an interview (in person or by Skype).

iSE is a social enterprise itself that has been trading successfully and supporting the social business sector in Birmingham and the West Midlands for the past 15 years and its small team led by CEO Sarah Crawley is passionate about how the value created by social enterprise can drive change in our local communities.

iSE looks forward to working with you and wishes applicants every success.

Download the PDF

Send mail to Mariam Yate for more information

Complete the FUSE application form

Applications open until 28 September for UnLtd’s accelerator, Thrive: Solutions for an Ageing Society

UnLtd’s latest social accelerator programme, Thrive, will help over 25 ambitious social ventures a year to grow and scale-up activities. Social ventures developing solutions in two distinct areas will be supported:

» Improving access to employment for those distant from the labour market.

» Developing products and services for an ageing society.

Thrive offers six months of intensive support with the opportunity to secure investment of up to £50,000 for your social venture, either through UnLtd or its partners.

Read the full details.

The changing face of social enterprise — Crafting4Good CIC

Today, as part of our continuing series of changing face of social enterprise stories we look at something very different — a very small, very young social enterprise with a brilliantly simple business idea that deserves to succeed.

The government estimates that the market for crafts goods is worth over £400m a year, and that this market has doubled in the past ten years. Making and selling craft items, then, is a substantial sector of the economy. And of course crafting is also immensely pleasurable, with well-documented benefits in terms of personal wellbeing, mood and self-satisfaction.

But I don’t believe we have yet seen a crafting business adopting the Community Interest Company structure and operating as a social enterprise. Until Crafting4Good CIC, that is.

Started by Adele Sweeney and incorporated only in March 2017, Crafting4Good, based in West Yorkshire, is a very small but growing social enterprise with a fascinating story — one that speaks volumes about what motivates people to start social enterprises. But this story is also a little bit different because it also illustrates the relief that some people experience when they eventually discover that trading in order to deliver social benefit is a path that many others have embarked on and that they are not alone.

“I worked for myself for ten years at home while a single parent battling depression, in the days before working from home on the internet was ‘a thing’,” Adele explains. “Creating a website and an online community paid the bills and got me through. A shop selling digital craft downloads grew out of it all and I was inspired by how our customers and members said we made a difference to them, with our convenient creative activities they could download, print and make when they wanted some creative me-time.”

But the decision to become a CIC came from a chance exchange with an accountant. “He said I needed to be more aggressive in getting more money out of our customers,” she says, “but this wasn’t how I worked and I told him it would need a ‘personality change’ if I was to do that. I was more interested in what the customer could get out of crafting than in maximising their ‘spend’.”

She went home feeling pretty fed up and disillusioned. “I thought I shouldn’t be in this game at all. And then I Googled charitable businesses — and discovered a thing called ‘social enterprise’ that I never knew existed, but was exactly where I felt I should be and what I’d essentially been doing. This was such a relief that I almost cried. I wrote about it here.”

I discovered a thing called ‘social enterprise’ that I never knew existed…it was such a relief that I almost cried — Adele Sweeney

But in many ways this was only the beginning. Adele was amongst the finalists applying for places on a School for Social Entrepreneurs programme but was unsuccessful. Eventually, after contacting local councillors she found her way to local support and information agencies and got some help in registering the CIC.

She describes Crafting4Good as follows: “Creativity is good for wellbeing, but sometimes those who could most do with a bit of creativity can’t afford to buy fancy craft supplies or are prevented due to their circumstances.  What we’re trying to do is enable ‘Robin Hood creativity’ — getting those who can afford to craft to help those who can’t.” The company does this by supplying crafts resources to individuals, community groups and charities, by working with voluntary and community sector partners to take creative activities into places where they don’t usually happen, and — when resources allow — by providing free craft materials that have been donated to the company.

The CIC sells printable craft products and templates from its online store and uses its surpluses to enable those who are more disadvantaged to get involved in crafting — people in homeless hostels, for example. It is also keen to work with others in the charity, social enterprise and voluntary sectors to enable creative activities in local communities.

The enterprise has to make some difficult decisions, however. “Recently,” Adele explains, “we were funded by a local community centre to have some office space for six months, to ‘get us started’. That first month in our new office revealed a lot. It made me realise that we have to focus more on trading, but it also helped us understand how we could usefully change our plans for outreach and community work. We’re not a charity that’s here to give stuff away and provide help for free because we can’t sustain that. But we do want to enable those in more disadvantaged groups to try craft and creative activities for themselves. We now think that the way forward for us is as a supplier of resources to others in the third sector. After all, many organisations and groups offer craft classes so why reinvent the wheel? We’ll supply ‘the parts’ instead.”

Adele believes that working like this will create lots of opportunities not just to generate sales but also to work in partnership with those who share Crafting4Good’s aims of making crafting and creativity more accessible and more inclusive.

How you can help

If you are interested in what Crafting4Good CIC is trying to do, there are several ways you can help:

» Help Crafting4Good raise its profile: “We need online contributors and volunteers such as blog writers on arts/crafts, mental health, recycling/green issues and how they can all relate to wellbeing and creativity,” Adele says.

» Volunteer social media and SEO skills: “We need people who are able to volunteer their marketing, social media, SEO and eCommerce skills to help us online. It’s far too much for one person and the couple of volunteers we have. It could be so much more!”

» Donate supplies: “Anyone with surplus craft supplies that can be used in a community setting — we would love to receive your donations! We have one company who sends us their end of line stock — this clears their shelves and means they don’t have clearance lines hanging around. If we could get more companies doing this it would be great.”

» Sympathetic suppliers: “We’re also looking for sympathetic suppliers of eco-friendly crafts goods who will supply us on a small order/sale-or-return basis.”

» Corporate sponsors/donors/partners: “We’re also looking for more corporate donors and partners to work alongside — there are loads of opportunities for businesses and organisations to get involved and be seen to be delivering community benefit.”

» Funding: “And of course, funding, to help us get bigger premises to start our mini creative distribution centre would be awesome!” Adele says.

Send mail to Adele Sweeney

→ Crafting4Good

Read all our changing face of social enterprise stories










Big Issue Invest announces dedicated investment for social enterprises & community businesses in the Midlands

Power Up Midlands is the third iteration of Big Issue Invest’s early stage investment programme. Up to 15 social enterprises and community businesses across the Midlands will be able to access funding and support.

Power Up Midlands is aimed at early-stage social and/or community enterprises in the geographical area of the Midlands. The offer is open to all legal structures and consists of up to £50,000 debt financing accruing at 5% per year.

The loan has a capital holiday period of one year with loan lengths expected to be four years. Big Issue Invest’s corporate partners — Barclays and Experian — will support applicants with mentoring and business support, including financial modelling and other ad hoc business services and functions.

The support element of the programme will consist of a two month period with bi-weekly meet-ups to develop the investment proposition in partnership with the business mentors. Investment decisions will be conducted at the end of this process.

The programme is for those that have a patient capital requirement as they develop their product and service offering. Big Issue Invest is also keen to identify social businesses looking to lock in their community structures and would be happy to support them with this through its partnership with Power to Change.

For more information and to apply — Power Up Midlands




Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 Edinburgh — discounts available for WM contingent but time is running out

As we previously note in this post, the Social Enterprise World Forum returns to the UK after 10 years of travelling the world, one continent at a time.

Edinburgh is the 2018 host city and the event takes place between September 12th-15th.

Sarah Crawley, who has become something of a regular attendee at SEWF (read her past posts), has negotiated a 10% discount for West Mids social enterprises — but bookings have to be confirmed by the end of this week.

The iSE team will be heading up to Edinburgh to make best advantage of the 3 day conference, insights and networking, and you are invited to join them in one of the following ways:

» Attend the conference and enjoy a limited number of discounted tickets available to iSE – you must apply by 1pm Thursday 5th July 2018.

» Bring your Made in Birmingham social enterprise products and services, and trade from the stand.

» Provide a sample range of goods to display on the Made in Birmingham stand.

This is a limited offer and demand will be high, so you will need to send mail to Sarah Crawley by no later than 1pm on THURSDAY 5th July if you wish to participate in one of the above ways.

Sarah says, “Please confirm only if you are able to commit to the dates and the necessary capacity to be part of this unique marketplace event.”

→ Read full post on the iSE blog.

Here’s some FAQs about SEWF, including costs.


Commonwealth orchestral fusion — Orchestre Philharmonia Mundi de Montreal joins The People’s Orchestra on stage

The People’s Orchestra is one of the UK’s leading community orchestras, delivering a unique mixed arts and multi-media project that reinvents amateur orchestra performance — while focusing on music and the shared creation of music as a means for personal and community change.

At its next Summer concert, The People’s Orchestra will be joined for the first time in its history by an overseas orchestra — the Orchestre Philharmonia Mundi de Montreal.

The Canadian orchestra shares similar values to The People’s Orchestra. Its motto is “for the pleasure of making music together” and like The People’s Orchestra it is run by its members.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see two community orchestras live on stage.


iSE announces FUSE social enterprise Summer Camp

iSE runs a number of different FUSE social enterprise start-up programmes throughout the year. The programmes are for people who want to develop a business that is financially sustainable but also (and importantly) delivers a strong and measurable social impact.

Its Summer Camp is for social entrepreneurs, innovators and change-makers near trade or at early-start stage that want to fast-track their social enterprise, grow networks, develop collaborative opportunities and develop sustainable businesses that create social impact.

What to expect: You’ll work intensively over a period of six weeks, supported through group pow-wow sessions which will be practical and focused around developing your social enterprise. Topics include the business model canvas, developing a robust social mission, building a community and networks, social media and marketing, understanding numbers, funding and alternative social finance, social impact and developing your pitch.

Closing date for applications: 30th June 2018. Interviews (in person or by Skype) week commencing 2nd July 2018. More information send mail to Mariam Yate.

Click here for further details and how to apply.

Shaping the future of adult skills and learning — the implications of Brexit and devolution for the West Midlands

The Workers’ Educational Association WM (WEA WM) is holding a conference on the 4th July 2018 on the topic “Shaping the future of adult skills and learning — the implications of Brexit and devolution for the West Midlands”.

It is keen to promote this conference opportunity as widely as possible to charities, social enterprises and third sector organisations in the West Midlands that are involved in employability programmes and vocational skills training for adults furthest away from the labour market.

The event is FREE and includes a light lunch.

It takes place Wed 4th July 2018 from 10:00am until 4:00pm at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, 75 Harborne Rd, Birmingham B15 3DH.

Expert speakers include Jo Cain, Director of Education, WEA; John Hacking, Network for Europe; Dr Sue Pember, HOLEX; Mark Rowe, TUC.

This is an exceptional opportunity to get up to speed about a fast-changing environment, become more aware of the implications of Brexit and devolution on adult education and community learning, and explore ways in which practitioners can work more closely together on responding to these issues.

FULL DETAILS & REGISTRATION — registration by 1st July will be helpful for planning purposes.

The event is supported by GMB trade union.

Changes UK — warehouse furniture clearance this Saturday

This coming Saturday, 2nd June, from 10am-4pm, Changes UK is holding a furniture clearance. A furniture recycling project it was hosting has closed and everything must go!

Everything is FREE but donations are requested.

It’s going to be a fantastic day. There will be Changes UK volunteers on hand to make it fun and there will be music and even karaoke while you work!

There will be plenty of volunteers to help you find and collect the bits of furniture that you are interested in.

Please make your own delivery arrangements for getting any items you are interested transported home. This event is one day only, so you will need to collect anything you want on the day.

See you on Saturday 2nd June.

More information on Facebook.

John Taylor Hospice — great turn-out for opening of first shop

Back in January we wrote that John Taylor Hospice, the UK’s only social enterprise hospice, had unveiled its latest three-year strategic plan and that this included a commitment to open its first shop.

Now that shop — the first in the hospice’s 100-year history – has opened at 121 High Street, Erdington, and crowds of shoppers were waiting eagerly on its doorstep for the formal cutting of the ribbon by hospice patient Cat Mackrill and nurse consultant Sarah Bache on Friday 11th May.

Staff, supporters, volunteers, patients and families were joined by local dignitaries including Erdington MP Jack Dromey and Erdington councillor Robert Alden.

After cutting the turquoise ribbon, JTH patient Cat Mackrill, 46, said: “I live in Erdington and I love charity shops so to be asked to open the John Taylor Hospice charity shop is a real honour. The hospice has been such a great help to me. It’s a very special place and the staff, volunteers and other patients have become great friends.” She also thanked shoppers who had crowded outside waiting for the doors to open. “Every pound you spend is helping John Taylor Hospice make every moment matter for people like me,” Cat said.

JTH chief executive Penny Venables said: “We are absolutely delighted to be opening our first shop here on Erdington High Street. IIt was the obvious choice for a hospice which has been in Erdington since 1948. This shop may be our very first but it won’t be the last,” she explained. “It’s part of our strategy to open more shops in and around Birmingham so that we can ensure increased income for the hospice. By raising more money, we will be able to reach more local families who need our expert care at end of life.”  

Erdington MP Jack Dromey said: “John Taylor Hospice does such fantastic work and makes such a difference for local families. I’m really pleased that this shop will help it raise money towards that work.” To celebrate the opening, hospice volunteers were out and about in Erdington giving shoppers chocolates which were donated by the Unite branch at Cadbury.

More details about the JTH Shop Erdington HERE.

The changing face of social enterprise — creating social value through inter-trading

We wrote recently about Graduate Planet CIC in one of our ‘changing face of social enterprise‘ stories. It’s a new-start social enterprise recruitment consultancy which uses its surpluses to support environmental action. Its founder Kate Evans was one of the speakers at the recent event we held for new-start social enterprises and wrote about here.

It was clear at that event that Kate  had got off to a flying start with Graduate Planet — albeit not without some initial trepidation and uncertainty. Well, we can now update that story a little — and in doing so help illustrate how inter-trading between social enterprises can create social value that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Since mid-2017 Graduate Planet has been providing recruitment services for Belu Water, a social enterprise which sells ethical bottled mineral water and uses 100% of its profits to support WaterAid, the international development charity. WaterAid aims to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere, by 2030. Belu supplies the UK’s restaurant, catering and hotel industries with bottled mineral water and in-house filtration and bottling systems and since its launch in 2011 has donated over £2.2m to WaterAid projects. Belu is currently on course to being able to reinvest £1m a year in WaterAid projects.

Kate Evans, founder, Graduate Planet CIC

The revenue generated by acting for Belu Water has enabled Graduate Planet to reinvest in Heart of England Community Energy’s (HECE) 60,000-panel solar farm just outside Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire. This solar power farm generates power equivalent to supplying 4,500 homes for 25 years. HECE is the UK’s single largest community energy company and plans to donate up to £2.7m to improving the health and quality of life of older people and other vulnerable groups who are experiencing fuel poverty and poor living conditions.

Using Graduate Planet in its supply-chain has helped Belu Water source top candidates to fill its expanding work force; in turn, Graduate Planet has been able to use some of its surpluses to invest in solar energy; and in its turn Heart of England Community Energy will help older people and other vulnerable groups reduce their energy bills and improve the heating, insulation and fuel efficiency of their homes.

If you have ever wondered how inter-trading and collaboration in the social sector creates social value that is greater than the sum of its parts, then here you have a perfect example. 

If you have ever wondered how inter-trading and collaboration in the social sector creates social value that is greater than the sum of its parts, then here you have a perfect example

Read the full story over on the Graduate Planet blog. It makes for a fascinating — and illuminating — story. Congratulations, Kate.

Read our earlier story about Graduate Planet.

Read all our changing face of social enterprise stories.