Last night was a really amazing evening – not as you might think due to the fact that I have a really great social life but because I was invited to my first ever guerrilla event!
This was pulled together by ‘Platform Birmingham’ which aims to bring together politicians, the media, corporate and social enterprise to network and understand one another but primarily to work together to change Birmingham. The theme for the evening was ‘Why do you believe in Birmingham’. Incredibly I was asked to do a three-minute speech along with the likes of Sir Albert Bore, Roy McFarlane [the Birmingham poet laureate] and Phil Riley [Chairman and MD of BRMB]. Our speeches were surprisingly similar linking Birmingham to its history of industry and in my case philanthropy through business activity.
What an opportunity to tell a new audience about social enterprise, to describe how it’s a thriving sector in Birmingham, led by clever, innovative people who want to change the world through business activity!
Once we understood what was happening [the day before!] we were able to encourage other social enterprises to attend to promote themselves to this interesting audience. We used Shop for Change to target local social enterprises that included Harris and Harris Accountancy CIC, Made by Young People, Textiles by St Annes, Citizen Enterprises CIC, Concept Social Enterprise, Think Venue, Health Exchange CIC and iSE CIC.
The guerrilla bit works through finding and using an empty space, finding people who will provide security, music, catering and provide drinks and then inviting people through twitter and local email networks. People then just turn up. The power of this is astonishing and to get such a good turnout of really powerful people who want to change Birmingham was cool!
It was weird because it was unstructured and we aren’t used to that, wonderful because it worked and there were great people there, organic because it grew from nothing except passion and empowering because it shows a new generation of people coming forward to do things differently for social change and social enterprise.
We’ll let you know when the next one is!
And incidentally, while on the subject of Textiles by St Annes, sales manager Pat Bend tells me that the business has increased its sales by 53% since registering in the Shop for Change directory! Fantastic news — congratulations to everyone at St Annes.