Fresh Perspectives — from Aston Business School


“Aston academics present the latest business solutions for strategy, management, accelerating business growth and professional development.”

Aston Business School is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and as part of the celebrations is hosting a series of free business talks called Fresh Perspectives, in which the school’s academics offer advice, insights and the latest cutting edge research to help you address the increasingly complex business challenges of the modern economy.

They are breakfast sessions starting at 07.30am and cover:

  • Thursday 20th October: Managing a Diverse Team.
  • Thursday 17th November: Scenario Planning.
  • Wednesday 30th November: Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset in times of Uncertainty & Change.
  • Wednesday 7th December: Social media-is it really working for you?
  • Wednesday 14th December: How Sustainable is your Brand?
  • Thursday 16th February: The Changing Face of Customer Loyalty and Importance of Customer Emotions.


Book now to start future proofing your business.

More information and booking

Roots HR teams up with NCVO to provide HR hotline

Roots HR C.I.C has been chosen by NCVO to provide NCVO members with a free HR advice hotline.

Chris Taylor, Enterprise Development Manager, NCVO says, “Roots HR offer a flexible HR Advice line service which we are delighted to have negotiated for our members, strengthening our membership offering. Good HR practice is an essential part of supporting the voluntary sector workforce and ensuring organisations are run effectively.”

Read the press releases from Roots HR.

The Roots HR team

The Roots HR team

Raising awareness of hospice care

Home » John Taylor HospiceOne in three people will be touched by hospice care at some point in their lives and the John Taylor Hospice (JTH) alone provides care of some description for at least 600 people every single day.

And yet most of us prefer not to think about what hospices do, or the circumstances in which we personally or those dear to us may need their care.

JTH, the UK’s only social enterprise hospice, believes that frequent awareness-raising is essential to help address this, and last week joined over 200 hospices up and down the country in the sixth Hospice Care Week to promote the hospice movement’s essential work.

This year’s theme was, “Hospice care is….”

Patients, staff, volunteers and families took part.

You can find out more on Twitter #HospiceCareWeek and #hospicecareis and on JHT’s Facebook page.

Funding opportunities in health, tech, young people and older people’s care

Here’s a selection of funding opportunities we’ve picked up from various bulletins and newsletters over the past couple of weeks:

1.  The Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Seed is an open grant-funding programme that offers entrepreneurial organisations early-stage investment to develop innovative projects harnessing the power of the internet and digital technologies to deliver significant social change. The programme supports projects tackling pressing social challenges such as the environment and sustainability, education, employment and healthcare. Social Tech Seed will provide funding and support to help you demonstrate the social, user and financial value of your existing digital prototype.

2.  Comic Relief, in partnership with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, has launched a Tech for Good Programme to support projects that use software and digital technology as a part of a solution to addressing any of the Comic Relief’s UK Main Fund themes of Empowering Women and Girls, Investing in Children and Young People, Building Stronger Communities, Improving Health and Wellbeing. This programme aims to support not-for-profit organisations that use software and digital technology to create social change. Applicants must already have some technical expertise and capacity to enact social change using digital technologies.  Details SCVO website.

3.  Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations has announced that a further round of funding is now available via the Sandwell Early Help Innovation Fund (SEHIF). The purpose of the Fund is to enable local voluntary groups and not-for-profit /charitable organisations to deliver preventative, community-based interventions for children and families in Sandwell. → Details SCVO website.

4.  The Peter Cruddas Foundation offers grants for projects that support disadvantaged and disengaged young people in the UK. Registered charities as well as organisations and individuals supported by registered charities can apply. The Foundation gives priority to projects focused on pathways into education, training and employment. There are no minimum or maximum grants and projects can be funded for more than one year. No funding for Capital Projects. The next closing date for application is the 1st March 2017.  Details SCVO website.

5.  BVSC has announced that funding to support activities for carers is available from the Birmingham Better Care Fund. The Fund is looking for local charities and community groups that can make good things happen for carers in their area, in line with the Carers Strategy. Funding of between £500 and £25,000 is available and the deadline for proposals is Friday 21st October 2016. Full details BVSC website. Details BVSC website.

With thanks to the organisations that originally circulated these notices.

University of Birmingham seeks social enterprise/third sector placements

about_us_-_university_of_birminghamThe University of Birmingham runs a postgraduate programme called MA Policy into Practice, which includes a work placement element. It is looking for social enterprises, third sector organisations and charities that can host what are intended to be mutually beneficial placements.


The University of Birmingham’s postgraduate ‘MA Policy into Practice’ (with integrated placement) programme has been running for over ten years. It primarily attracts senior South Korean government officers who have been competitively selected for overseas study. These are mid-career civil servants with a number of years experience in government. They generally have good English skills and are familiar with the work of governmental organisations.

They come to Birmingham for two years to complete a Masters degree programme and undertake a work-based placement of up to 20 weeks (typically three short days each week). Their areas of interest and expertise vary but most are in the broad social policy areas. Many are interested in the voluntary sector and social enterprise.

The university is currently organising placements for these students and is inviting social enterprises and third sector organisations to apply  to host one of these students.

Ideally a work-based placement should be be of value to both the organisation and the students. The university works with organisations to devise a programme of work which will be useful for the organisation and interesting for the students. This might include undertaking a small piece of research or contributing to a larger research project, volunteering, administrative work and shadowing/supporting organisation staff, or supporting event planning and organisation.

If you would like more information about hosting a placement, please send mail to Dr Kelly Hall or ring her on 0121 415 8027.

Dr Kelly HallLecturer in Social PolicyDirector of Policy into Practice Programmes
University of Birmingham

HLF launches new £10m grants programme to help 11-25s engage with heritage

kick_the_dust___heritage_lottery_fundThe Heritage Lottery Fund yesterday launched a £10m pilot programme and is inviting groups of charities and other organisations to apply for funding.

The Kick the Dust programme aims “to make heritage relevant and inclusive for 11 to 25 year olds” and is inviting consortia of three or more organisations, including heritage and youth organisations, to apply for grants of £500,000 to £1m.

More information on the Civil Society media website.

Kick the Dust on HLF.

ChangesUK is recruiting…

social_enterprise_development_manager_-_changes_ukDigbeth-based recovery charity ChangesUK is currently going from strength to strength. As well as developing the huge 50,000 sq ft, £1m Recovery Central facility, which we reported in this post, it is now branching out to include specialist social enterprise development expertise within its own staff team.

It is currently recruiting…

A Social Enterprise Development Manager
Location: Recovery Central, 9 Allcock Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4DY
Salary: £24,000 – £28,000 per annum pro-rata (+ Bonus scheme)
Hours: Permanent/Full Time
Closing Date: 14th of October 2016

As ever, we wish ChangesUK well in this latest endeavour.

Full details and how to apply

A free presentation to help you identify your social value — and report it


The evidence from our work indicates that some social enterprises are struggling to identify the full social value of their work. Others are under-reporting the social value they are already achieving.

We have put together a short guide to help you examine your contracts, services and activities and identify the different kinds of social value that they create. It expands on some of the issues we described in this post.

We think a lot of social enterprises are selling themselves short in failing to include social value as a standard element of their reporting to funders, commissioners, clients, stakeholders and supporters. The aim of this guide is to encourage more social enterprises to be proactive in reporting on social value — even if commissioners are not asking you for this information.

The guide is available in both PowerPoint (download PowerPoint) and PDF (open PDF) and can be freely downloaded for use and for circulation. We hope you find it useful.

See also:

 Social Value in health — it doesn’t have to be complicated.

 See all blog posts tagged ‘social value’.

 See all website material on public services and social value.

 See all website materials on social value and health.

BSSEC gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of The Barrow Cadbury Trust, which has funded this work.

iSE launches new programme of social investment workshops

ise___ise_launches_the_new_programme_of_social_investment_workshops_iSE has launched a new programme to help social enterprises attract social investment. The workshops are designed to provide more information about social investment and give social entrepreneurs the opportunity to practice pitching. The workshops will cover:

  • Introduction to the legal and financial aspects of accessing social finance including the Social Investment Tax Relief.
  • Developing pitching skills.
  • Practicing pitch session.
  • A selection of social enterprises pitch to business angels.
  • Networking.


Choose from the following dates:

  • 6th October 2016 3pm – 6pm at Women’s Enterprise Hub, 249 Ladypool Road, B12 8LF.
  • 6th December 2016 3pm – 6pm at Women’s Enterprise Hub.
  • 7th February 2017 3pm – 6pm at Women’s Enterprise Hub.
  • (Date TBA) April 2017 3pm – 6pm at Women’s Enterprise Hub.
  • 6th September 2017 at Women’s Enterprise Hub.
  • 8th November 2017 at Women’s Enterprise Hub.
  • 7th February 2018 at Women’s Enterprise Hub.
  • (Date TBA) April 2018 at Women’s Enterprise Hub.


To book, please send mail to Marija Sakalauskaite or ring 0121 771 1411.

More information on the iSE website where you can also sign up to receive the newsletter.

Being a social enterprise champion — a GBSLEP year

Melanie Mills is the social enterprise champion for the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. In this post she reflects on what being a social enterprise champion means and looks back over her first year in this role.

Being a social enterprise champion — a GBSLEP year

Melanie Mills: GBSLEP Social enterprise champion

So a year and a bit in I felt it was high time I provided an update and some reflections on what being the social enterprise champion for GBSLEP is really like!

Like all voluntary roles we tend to start with passion and enthusiasm to get things done, to incite change and to ensure that our specialism is really part of the mix — after all, it’s why we take on the extra responsibility. However with all good intention then comes the massive realisation of gaps in knowledge, getting to grips with how the machinery of a complex structure like the LEP works and then most importantly it takes time to understand where social enterprise, social value, social investment and the wider third sector is most relevant and can make the most contribution.

However this was never about one person or one role. I see myself as merely the voice of many so we will need to do this together: encouraging more regular dialogue and opening up more direct channels of communication with GBSLEP (and the with the right people) will be fundamental to future activity.

So what have I learned?

1. Everything that the LEP does must be considered through the lens of creating and sustaining economic growth.

2. That as a sector our contribution may be small but it is not insignificant.

3. The fundamental question in this setting is where can it add the most value.

4. There is still a real disconnect and a lack of understanding about what social enterprises and charities do, why we do it and how it also creates not just economic growth but socially inclusive economic growth — something that is important to the GBSLEP agenda.

5. Pinning down how to articulate, how to execute and how to involve and collaborate with the sector to do this is now the challenge.

So the great place to start was through gaining your input into the draft GBSLEP Strategic Economic Plan Refresh. Thanks if you have shared your views in the online survey (there is still time it’s still open until 9th September) and to those who attended the consultation event on Thursday morning it was great to have an opportunity for Nick and Katie to hear directly from the sector and for wider views and some great ideas about how we might move forward.

So what next? I see three key areas where the sector can really add value:

» I am committed to help shape the language and tone of the SEP document to ensure that it is inclusive of our sector and the contribution that we can make. There are key opportunities in the creations of JOBS and SKILLS particularly in reducing unemployment in some of our most challenged communities and in addressing barriers for those furthest from the labour market. This is a space that many social enterprises and charities already work in and where we have a major part to play.

» There are also opportunities in us helping to shape the SOCIAL VALUE GBSLEP wants to see created through HS2 to ensure it underpins the key objectives within the SEP. Effectively we need to set out what Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP wants in the added value our suppliers and contractors create. Again Social Enterprises and Charities should be key partners in the delivery of these targeted social value outcomes.

» Lastly we see additional opportunities in PLACE in the affordable supply of housing, in the running and sustainability of community assets and in the regeneration and empowerment of communities to help effect such change.

It’s not that we couldn’t add more but it is about time and focus and it is fair to say (and only in my humble opinion mind) that we need to be content with some key target areas rather than the all-encompassing application of social value. Frustrating yes, but realistic maybe?

So lots to do. At the consultation we reflected how there has been a gap in our sector’s involvement at the heart of the LEP agenda. So whilst there is much to be celebrated about what GBSLEP has achieved and there are statistics to prove the economic power of progress, to really improve the quality of life for all citizens of the GBSLEP area, particularly those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged, we need more socially inclusive economic growth and this is where we as a sector must be part of the action.

Mel Mills, Social Enterprise Champion GBSLEP

Contribute to the GBSLEP consultation — complete the online questionnaire

Social value and the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility — consultation


The Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility (BBC4SR) has become the primary tool that Birmingham City Council uses to drive social value throughout its supply-chain.

Some 350 companies are Charter signatories with many more expected.

Birmingham City Council is currently consulting on changes to the Charter. Recent events were held for private and social enterprise/third sector businesses and there is now also an online consultation survey. Do participate, complete the survey, and publicise the link to your friends, colleagues and networks.

BBC4SR — online survey/consultation.

More about the Business Charter, the Social Value Policy and the Living Wage Policy on the Birmingham City Council website.

Help and office rentals at the Women’s Enterprise Hub

This, just in from the Women’s Enterprise Hub:

Offic rental

Click to enlarge

» Are you a start-up women led business?
» Do you need office space to rent?
» Do you want to work in a space which is modern, safe and secure?
» Would you like to be part of a vibrant network of Women Entrepreneurs?
» If the answer is yes then look no further. Here at the Women’s Enterprise Hub we have the last 2 remaining office units for rental.

Do not delay, send mail to Lisa Rushton  for more information.

Identifying social value — perhaps this approach can help your enterprise?

When Lord Young reviewed implementation of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, his report (February 2015) concluded that local authorities had made significantly more progress than health bodies in utilising social value. Our own research at that time confirmed this view.

But the transfer of public health commissioning to local authorities means that public health contracts are now beginning to contain at least some social value outcomes. Amongst NHS commissioners the concept has still not gained traction.

But even where public health contracts do include social value, it is not comprehensive or consistent and some social enterprises are frustrated by this. They feel that the contracts they are delivering don’t fully acknowledge their achievements and that more can be done to extend the use — and understanding — of social value in health.

What can be done?

We’ve been working with a small number of social enterprises involved in health/public health delivery to see if there is more they can do to report proactively on the social value they are achieving. If commissioners begin to hear more about social value from their providers, perhaps this will help promote its wider adoption?

For example, we spoke to one social enterprise delivering an NHS health contract to see if we could help managers identify additional social value outcomes. To do this we looked at the following:

  • What did the contract currently require them to report against?
  • Did this reporting capture all of the outcomes — or were some client outcomes unaccounted for? If so, these represent social value.
  • What about methods of delivery? Was any additional social value achieved because of the way the contract was being delivered?


This last point turned out to be really important. In the contract we looked at, the organisation was: enabling the involvement of volunteers (including women and disadvantaged groups); encouraging clients’ partners to participate in the programme (which improved retention and completion), and promoting peer support amongst users. And all of these delivery methods were creating additional social value that was not being reported and which the commissioner knew nothing about.

What does this tell us?

We found this very instructive because it suggests that enterprises can do more to report proactively on social value — and it confirms, as we said in this post, that reporting social value doesn’t need to be over-complicated. Medway Community Healthcare’s simple but effective social value report confirms this.

But the most important lesson was that identifying additional social value was not especially difficult. And most importantly, it didn’t require the organisation to do extra work: this additional social value derived directly from the organisation’s particular methods of service delivery. You might say it stemmed directly from the organisation’s social mission.

We think this is the case for very many social enterprises.

Perhaps a similar approach will help you interrogate your contracts for additional social value that you can report? Think of it this way:

  • Does our social mission — our way of working, our fundamental purpose — contribute to this contract?
  • If so, how? What outcomes does it produce?
  • Are these outcomes in addition to the core requirements of the contract? IF SO, THEY REPRESENT SOCIAL VALUE!
  • Are we capturing and reporting these outcomes?
  • Are we making sure to use this information in our marketing, key messages and promotional materials?


You’ll have a number of ways that you can report on this social value. In some cases, there may be readily available return-on-investment figures — such as savings to other services — that you know are routinely used. In some cases perhaps only a narrative case study/explanation will be possible.

This is OK. A mix-and-match approach to reporting social value is perfectly justified — unless, of course, a commissioner is asking you for something much more specific.

Social Value in health — it doesn’t have to be complicated.

See all blog posts tagged ‘social value’.

See all website material on public services and social value.

 See all website materials on social value and health.


BITA Pathways hosts third Opportunities Fair

BITA Pathways is hosting its third annual Opportunities Fair, aimed at clients with a disability or mental health need.BITA_Pathways

It will be held on Monday 19th September, 10am-2pm at St Martins in the Bullring. A range of employers, training and placement providers will be exhibiting and there will also be careers development workshops.

For more information email Bakhsho Randhawa, Employment Development Officer, BITA Pathways or call 0121 713 0077 / 07983 942 998.

Opportunity Fair 2016 Flyer Front


UK Sepsis Trust fundraiser at The Comedy Loft — ‘Remembering Tyler’

Sepsis_TrustEleanor Cappell, who many of you will know, is raising money for the UK Sepsis Trust, a Birmingham-based charity, in memory of her friend’s son, Tyler, who died from a sepsis infection in November of last year. Tyler was two months away from his third birthday.

Every year in the UK there are 150,000 cases of Sepsis, resulting in 44,000 deaths — more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

Tyler’s family and friends are organising two comedy night fundraisers in partnership with the Comedy Loft, on Friday 14th October (Watford) and Friday 28th October (Birmingham). Tickets are £15.00, with £12.00 going straight to the chosen charity.

As well as raising much needed funds to help The UK Sepsis Trust’s work, the Remembering Tyler comedy nights are also about raising awareness of sepsis. Tyler’s family and friends have already raised over £16,500 for the Great Ormond Street Hospital and now want to help a local Birmingham charity whose work they have great personal reason to value. If you can’t make the Comedy Loft night but want to contribute, there is a Just Giving page.

Book tickets (Birmingham night).



What are the implications of the NHS’s ‘STPs’?

NHS Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs) have finally hit the headlines (BBC News; The GuardianI News). Up until a few weeks ago they seemed to be almost unheard of.

STPs were first announced by NHS England in a December 2015 report called Delivering the Forward View: NHS planning guidance 2016/17 – 2020/21. This called on “local health systems,  including clinicians, patients, carers, citizens, and local community partners including the independent and voluntary sectors, and local government through health and wellbeing boards, to work together to develop robust plans to transform the way that health and care is planned and delivered for their populations”. Draft STPs are required by mid-September 2016.

Local health ‘systems’ first of all had to identify the ‘footprint’ they would adopt for their STP. There are now 44 STP ‘footprints’ across the country. But these seem to be reinventing the catchment areas — the populations — served by groups of NHS organisations. Birmingham’s STP ‘footprint’, for instance, which is led by Mark Rogers, chief executive of Birmingham City Council, includes the acute trusts, community health trust, mental health trust, the local authority, and three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) — Cross City, South Birmingham, and Solihull. But it doesn’t include Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG because this falls into the Black Country ‘footprint’.

On one level, of course, STPs make perfect sense. They could help ensure that health provision is designed for entire localities rather than individual organisations; they could help better integrate health and social care; they could be integral to the NHS delivering its Five Year Forward View. But awareness of the STPs is poor and so far there seems to have been little effective community consultation or engagement. Whether the draft STPs mark the beginning or the end of a process is also far from clear.

Social enterprises and the wider third sector need to be doing much more to better understand STPs — and how they get involved in them. We certainly plan to do what we can to aid this process — but if you are already involved somehow in the process, now is the time to be sharing what you know and what you have learnt. This is a key opportunity to ensure that the voice of community users and providers is heard loud and clear in the STP process, and to ensure that social value (the Public Services [Social Value] Act 2012) — which health has done relatively little to capitalise on so far — is fully embedded in these plans.

You can find out more about the STPs on the NHS England website:

Overview and explanation.

 Explanation of ‘footprint’ areas.

 Map of ‘footprints’.

STP ‘footprint’ leaders.

An interesting paper by health academic Colin Leys analysing STPs published by the Centre for Health & the Public Interest.

BSSEC publishes fourth Annual Report

We’re delighted to be publishing our fourth annual report since incorporating as a CIC in 2012.

Of course our activities significantly predate that: we first began life as an informal consortium in 2000, so this year marks sixteen years spent keeping social enterprise at the top of the agenda. Where does the time go?

The trading climate for social enterprises as for all businesses continues to be extremely challenging, but this year has also seen a further significant decline in the availability of funded business support. BSSEC members are working hard to try and ensure that formal business support is augmented with lower-cost options such as networking and peer support as a means of sharing the sector’s rich skills and expertise and capitalising on its strong commitment to mutual aid.

Read more:

Download the 2016 Annual Report.

See all Annual Reports.

Can you help create a five-acre forest garden?

Stratford_upon_Avon_—_Forest_of_Hearts 2

Forest of Hearts is a new charitable social enterprise (a CIO) creating a five-acre forest garden close to the site of the former Snitterfield WWII RAF training camp, in Warwickshire, three miles from Stratford.

Forest gardens build on centuries-old methods of woodland husbandry to preserve and develop local eco-systems, creating gardens of purpose (food production, environmental sustainability, bio-diversity) and pleasure (beautiful spaces for contemplation and enjoyment).

Forest of Hearts’ aim is to create a five-acre forest garden with over 100 species of edible plants, shrubs and trees, over a hundred fruit tree guild gardens (planting multiple crops in a defined space to create a polyculture), ten kilometres of of accessible paths, a thousand trees and a thousand metres of hedgerow.

The project will require thousands of volunteer-hours and as well as its social and environmental benefits will offer apprenticeship placements in a range of woodland skills.

When complete the layout will resemble the internal mechanism of a traditionally-made watch.

To find out more or to sponsor, volunteer or get involved in other ways send mail to Carole Longden.

Contact details.

Importance of Data: ICO Annual Track 2016

IoD Screenshot

Data is an essential part of any charity or social enterprise’s work and it’s important that data is kept organised, safe and secure, but how do the general public feel about their data? In the latest ICO Annual Track (2016) survey the public report that National Health is one of the top social issues that adults are concerned about, NHS being the top. According to the survey, adults have little confidence in the current state of the data economy however, if people had trust in how data is managed and used, they are more likely to share it with you.

With only 1 in 4 UK adults trusting businesses with their personal information it is easy to see that the importance of data and security should be key in any organisation, therefore, it is vital to keep your data stored in a safe place and used in an appropriate way to benefit the person.

PSIAMS Systems are currently  running their “Digital Transformation” Campaign and are holding a special event on 3rd November 2016 called “Transformation & Social Value” – Register today to learn more about how data can transform your organisation.

UnLtd offers co-working spaces for social entrepreneurs

Are you working alone? Finding it difficult to network, meet like-minded people and potential collaborators?

UnLtd is offering social entrepreneurs the chance to access various co-working spaces free of charge, to create stronger local communities, and reduce isolation.

Register your interest here.

socent Co-working space - flyer