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

Who said the summer holidays were boring? Let’s put on a show!

If you’re aged 15-24 and have an urge to perform — ballet, dance, sword-fighting, singing: the whole works — then you’ll want to know more about the opportunity being offered by arts and personal development charity Leaps and Bounds, in partnership with Birmingham Royal Ballet and local social enterprise Citizen Coaching CIC.

The aim is to create a show in a week — a remix of a classic tale, Romeo meets Juliet — which will be performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

The team is looking for young people aged 15-24 to join an exciting FREE summer intensive at the Birmingham Hippodrome August 21st – 26th.

For those with experience — and those who want to tread the boards for the first time — this is a unique free opportunity to develop new skills in dance, theatre, singing costume-making and even sword-fighting and martial arts.

To find out more, meet the team at Zelig Reception in the Custard Factory, Digbeth (B9 4AT) on Tuesday 16th August between 12pm and 2pm or contact Martin at Citizen Coaching on 0121 314 7075 or send him mail.

Now — who said the summer holidays were boring?

ART pioneers new financing model to raise cash for small businesses


ART Business Loans has joined forces with peer-to-peer business lender ThinCats to pilot a unique scheme to raise £500,000 to support local businesses. ThinCats — it’s the opposite of ‘fat cats’ — was established in 2011, partly as a response to the banking crisis.

Working with Responsible Finance members across the UK, including Birmingham’s own ART Business Loans, ThinCats has developed a new Community Chest initiative enabling investors to make a loan to ART for a five year term, which ART will then lend on to West Midlands businesses. Investors will benefit from Community Investment Tax Relief at 5% p.a. of the amount lent for five years.

This is an attractive offer in today’s investment climate, providing both a financial return — 8.2% p.a. for a higher rate tax payer — and a social return by supporting employment in the local economy.

The move is designed to improve access to finance for small to medium enterprises in the West Midlands, and all the money raised will be lent to SMEs and social enterprises in the West Midlands.

ThinCats’ founder Kevin Caley says, “Community Chest is breaking new ground by providing a unique and tax-efficient way of investing in peer-to-peer lending. I believe it will be popular with investors and can deliver a vital new route to funding for social enterprise right across the UK.”

Steve Walker, ART CEO [Photo: Marc Kirsten]

This initiative is part of ART’s continued planned expansion to meet demand from West Midlands businesses, following a third record year of lending in 2015/16. “We provided loans in excess of £900,000 in the first quarter of this financial year,” says ART CEO Steve Walker, “and we fully expect to see further increased demand in the months ahead.”


If you need free legal assistance on one-off issues you need LawWorks

LawWorks E Flyer 2016Are you a small not-for-profit organisation or social enterprise? Do you need free legal advice on a one-off issue?

The charity LawWorks’ Not-For-Profits Programme helps connect volunteer solicitors with small not-for-profit organisations in need of legal advice. If a small charity, voluntary organisation or social enterprise needs advice on a discrete legal issue, LawWorks welcomes applications for help.

Eligible organisations are matched with a volunteer lawyer from LawWork’s network of member law firms and in-house legal teams who can advise on that matter.

Examples of discrete matters volunteers can help with include: drafting a contract, reviewing a lease, updating a constitution/articles, and clarifying rights in a commercial dispute. Volunteers can advise on property, commercial/contract, tax, IP, insurance, insolvency, data protection, defamation, and company law (but not on setting up/choosing charitable structures or registering as a charity).

Applying for help is simple. You can check your eligibility here and complete the online application form. Latest accounts are required and can be uploaded or emailed.

LawWorks will then work with the organisation to gather more information and see how it can help.

More information about the free legal assistance service.

Download the flyer.

Free LawWorks videos on a range of legal issues relevant to the third sector.


Recovery Central announces Paul McMullan ‘Alcopops’ show


Recovery Central is delighted to announce that the one and only Paul McMullan has agreed to premier his Alcopop stand up at the charity’s first dry bar event at Recovery Central before performing at the Edinburgh Festival. Paul has agreed to donate all the proceeds to the work being done at Changes UK.

Paul will be joined on stage by Ryan Gough and Karl Adams AND there’s a good chance of another special mystery guest!

There are only 120 tickets so please don’t miss out!

Tickets include a Caribbean-themed meal.

Tickets here.

Transformation & Social Value – 3rd November 2016





Transformation and Social Value is an informative event that aims to give attendees the opportunity to hear about how PSIAMS Systems is changing the way the voluntary sector delivers services, measures outcomes, works in partnership and aids sustainability of organisations.
Hear from the sector specialists, charities leaders and social enterprises in the West Midlands talking about how they have embraced new technology and data to empower their organisations to work differently and face the challenges ahead.


The key audience for this event includes voluntary sector leaders, service commissioners from local authorities and CCGs, business support agencies including funders, social entrepreneurs, and university and college research departments.


Keynotes and workshops cover:

  • Hear about the transformation of service delivery in Dudley
  • Establishing data and an evidence base for future funding applications
  • Going Mobile – freeing your staff from paper and office work
  • Consortia Building – the benefits of using a collaborative
  • Increased Income Generation – manage every aspect of marketing, sales and finance
  • Organisational Development – make change a positive experience


WHEN: Thursday, 3 November 2016 from 09:30am to 2:00pm
WHERE: Changes UK, Recovery Academy, 8-9 Allcock Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4DY (map)

The event is free, but places are limited – to book a place click here.

For further information about the event or PSIAMS, please visit

‘Celebrate’ — Big Lottery Fund announces new funding for communities

uklogoSix out of ten people surveyed in a recent YouGov poll said they had never or couldn’t remember ever coming together to celebrate with their community. Big Lottery Fund wants to help change this.

Its new Celebrate fund offers grants of between £300 and £10,000 for groups to hold one off events or activities which celebrate their local community and bring people together.

You could celebrate something in your local history or a local community hero. You could bring people together to get to know their neighbours better.

To be eligible, you must be a voluntary or community organisation with a constitution and your own bank account, or a school or statutory body.

Applications for funding opened yesterday, the 6th July 2016.

Applications will be assessed on a first come, first served basis until all funds are awarded.

For more information and to complete the eligibility checker for application.

Follow on Twitter @BigLotteryFund.

Join the conversation using the hashtag #BigCelebration

Free corporate consultancy for VCOs, charities and social enterprises


In conjunction with National Grid, Volunteering Matters is currently delivering a volunteering project called Good Leaders, which was launched in 2014.

The project matches National Grid volunteers with the leaders of not-for-personal-profit organisations to enable them to receive free consultancy over a period of approximately 4-8 months — around 15-30 hours of time and 4-5 meetings. The project has now run nearly 60 successful ‘matches’.

The corporate volunteers are selected for their business skills and have particular expertise in strategic planning, project management, procurement, stakeholder engagement, customer relationship management etc. To be eligible to be considered:

  • You must be a registered charity, social enterprise or not-for-profit organisation.
  • Your organisation must have been established for at least two years.
  • Your organisation must have a turnover of at least £75K p.a.
  • The leader of the organisation (the person being ‘matched’) should have been involved with the organisation (not necessarily employed) for at least six months.


Please note that Good Leaders currently has ten volunteer providers in the West Midlands but this pool is growing.

To express your interest in being selected to receive Good Leaders support send mail to Janet Whitehead at Volunteering Matters.

For more information view the flyer.


Social Impact Bonds — the first six years


Social Finance has today launched Social Impact Bonds: The Early Years, a new report covering the progress of the Social Impact Bond market in the six years since its inception with the Peterborough criminal justice system SIB.

To date, sixty SIBs have launched in fifteen countries, raising more than $200m in investment for social programmes. The paper details the results of 22 Social Impact Bonds, the global growth of the financial model, the challenges it faces and predictions for its future.

Social Finance has also launched an online global database (currently in beta form) of Social Impact Bonds which can be sorted by country, issue area, investor, payer or service provider, giving a complete overview of live and proposed programmes worldwide.

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

We wrote in this recent post about the slow progress being made in health commissioning to embrace social value.

As ever, we were reminded today that the health sector is so diverse and so complex that the picture you get of social value depends very much on where you look.

While progress amongst CCGs, for example, remains slow, amongst other types of health bodies interesting things are happening.

Medway Community Health Care, for example, a £52m turnover CIC and one of the biggest social enterprise health providers, is taking proactive steps to report on its social value.

Take a look at its most recent social value report.

What Medway’s approach shows is that reporting on social value doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to involve sophisticated financial proxies or newly devised metrics — which all too often only mean something to health specialists. It’s just a simple, straightforward narrative detailing what has been achieved and how.

We think this is to be welcomed. It shows that it is possible to take a proactive approach and report on social value in ordinary, simple language.


Extract from Medway Community Health Care’s social value report

See all blog posts tagged ‘social value’.

See all materials on social value & health on the website.

Government announces £80m ‘Life Chances Fund’

https___www_gov_uk_government_uploads_system_uploads_attachment_data_file_534336_CO-SIB-Life_Chances_Application_Form_Guidance_Notes-040716_pdfThe Cabinet Office has just today announced that as part of the Prime Minister’s life chances strategy a new £80m Life Chances Fund has been opened and will continue for the next nine years.

The fund is described as a “top-up fund” for locally developed Social Impact Bond (SIB) projects. The aims of the fund are to:

  • Increase the number and scale of SIBs in England.
  • Make it easier and quicker to set up a SIB.
  • Generate public sector efficiencies by delivering better outcomes and using this to understand how cashable savings are.
  • Increase social innovation and build a clear evidence-base of what works.
  • Increase the amount of capital available to a wider range of VCOs and social enterprise and enable them to compete for public sector contracts.
  • Provide better evidence of the effectiveness of the SIB mechanism and the savings that are being accrued; and
  • Grow the scale of the social investment market.


The fund will operate through thematic “call-outs”, the first two being drug and alcohol dependency; and children’s services.

You can read more about the fund and its operation and purpose here.