I suspect many will read with some sadness the report in Third Sector today that Social Enterprise West Midlands is to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of SEUK.
Businesses — including social enterprises — sometimes have to do whatever is most likely to guarantee their continuing survival, and perhaps in this case some kind of merger really was the only sensible option.
Nonetheless, it’s hard not to feel a little sad. Such immense effort went into building up both the SEWM organisation and brand and Melanie Mills, its former chief exec, was central to that success.
There are also bigger issues at stake here, though. The role of a regional membership body is somewhat different to that of a national one. Regional bodies by definition have a bigger role to play in local influencing: their members regard them in a different light and arguably expect more from them.
The report says that SEWM — currently part of the Aspire Group — will retain its Birmingham staff and offices and if true then this will surely be regarded as good news by many. This will be central in SEWM (or whatever SEWM becomes) retaining its local presence and identity.
The two bodies will be consulting their respective memberships over the coming months to work out how best the operations should merge.