Citizen Coaching is recruiting

Citizen Coaching is a social enterprise that enables adults and young people to lead better lives through access to timely, affordable and jargon free counselling, anger management and personal development coaching delivered by a friendly professional team.

It currently has two full-time vacancies:

Marketing Manager

A unique opportunity to join a friendly hard working, team based in Digbeth Birmingham, that supports adults and young people access free Counselling and well-being services.

Reporting directly to the Operations Director this role is suitable for a marketing graduate or somebody with at least two years experience of working in a client focused marketing role.

Details and application

Operations Manager

A unique opportunity to join a friendly hard working, team based in Digbeth Birmingham. We support adults and young people access free Counselling and well-being services as our Operations Manager.

Reporting directly to the Operations Director. This role is suitable for a graduate or somebody with at least two years experience of working in a client focused role.

Details and application


Creative Active Lives CIC hosts online Variety Show — magic, music, mind reading & more

Creative Active Lives CIC creates exciting, engaging, inclusive workshops and events for all ages and abilities.

Its next event is a very special online Variety Show for the over 65s on Thursday 8th July from 6.30pm-8.00pm.

Director Rachel Conlisk says:

This time around the theme is ‘Music & Magic’, with special guests, Tom Noddy, ‘The Bubble Man’, who performs worldwide with his legendary Bubble Magic Act, our regular live band the Miss Jones Trio, and the Impossible Mr Goodwin, mind reader and magician.

I first saw Tom Noddy’s mesmerising Bubble Magic act on the Paul Daniels show in the 1980s. It blew me away and I have never forgotten it, so we are delighted to bring him online for our social club to perform his act close up, tell us stories from his incredible life and career performing around the world, and answer any questions from the audience.

We would like to invite you and extend the invitation to anyone you work with or your service users who would enjoy this evening social via Zoom. We encourage people to chat using zoom chat function, or the group telephone call kindly provided by Age UK Sandwell, and we love to get the acts to say any Happy Birthdays or give a shout out to anyone watching — so do let us know who you would like a shout out to.

Ww hope you can join us, and if you can help spread the word we would be most grateful.

Find out more about Creative Active Lives CIC social events and activities.

→ Browse Creative Active Lives CIC’s free activity resources for downloading and home use.

Magic & Music Variety Show — booking via Eventbrite (tickets £3.28 to £27.54).

Help & support for co-operatives, mutuals and community-led enterprises

If you already are or are planning to set up a co-operative, mutual or other type of community-led enterprise, you may want to know more about specialist support provider, Co-operative Futures.
The company works nationally but has a strong West Midlands focus. Some of its services may be available free of charge; in other instances it may be able to signpost you to sources of grant-support that will help meet the cost.
Co-operative Futures is a business development consultancy specialising in support and advice for co-operatives, mutuals and community-led enterprises. Typically, its clients meet three basic criteria: 1) they have some sort of trading activity; 2) they have a social purpose; and 3) they have some form of collective ownership.
Whether you are just starting out with an idea, or are an established co-op enterprise looking to grow and develop your business, Co-operative Futures can help you. It provides practical, hands-on advice and support at every stage of an organisation’s development and has experience of supporting co-ops and community businesses in retail, leisure, community asset transfer, renewable energy, producer groups, social care and many other sectors.
The organisation specialises in the following areas:
  • Pre-start – support to explore your ideas, who should be involved, and what your next steps need to be.
  • Starting up – looking at your business model, the viability of the business and what you need to get going.
  • Governance – how to make sure your legal structure is the right one and making sure you are doing the right things for your members.
  • Finance – looking at how much it costs to run your business, what you should charge to make the right amount of profit and how to understand your accounts.
  • Marketing – identifying who your customers are, what they want to buy, how much they will pay and how to tell them about yourselves.
  • Business plans – that cover all the important areas, whether primarily for internal use, or as a tool to help raise finance.
Co-operative Futures is also a Community Shares practitioner and can offer bespoke support in writing share offer documents that will enable you to raise capital investment from your community or members.
Community Shares schemes are being used increasingly to help finance and grow all kinds of community-led enterprises — local shops and pubs, renewable energy schemes, community facilities, local food growing, football clubs, heritage buildings.
For more information send mail to Co-operative Futures.

iSE welcomes new chief executive

Cathy Brown, iSE’s new CEO (photo: ISE)

Further to this post, the Chair of iSE’s board of directors, Dr Steve Harding, has issued a statement welcoming iSE’s new chief executive, Cathy Brown.

Cathy will replace Sarah Crawley, iSE’s founder and only CEO since the company’s formation, on the 1st July. They are working together throughout June as iSE makes this important transition.

Cathy has over thirty years’ experience of working in the public, private and third sectors, including delivering strategic transformation programmes for a FTSE100 company and providing practical guidance to help organisations improve workplace experience and performance through a variety of business models. She is the former Executive Director of Engage for Success, the UK’s movement for employee engagement, and Operations Director of the Employee Ownership Association.

In 2017 and again in 2019, Perkbox, the leading online platform for employee experience, performance and wellbeing, recognised Cathy as being in the top fifteen HR influencers in the country.

This marks a huge moment for Sarah personally, of course, and for iSE and its team. But it also signals a major new development for the social enterprise sector in Birmingham and the region. I’m sure many will join me in saying that we look forward to getting to know Cathy and to working with her as we have with Sarah over the past two decades. A new chapter in social enterprise support and development in Birmingham is about to begin.  

Read the full story on the iSE blog.

Martineau Gardens seeks new CEO

This, just in from Martineau Gardens (which we have written about before here), which is seeking to recruit a new Chief Executive Officer.

Martineau Gardens is a beautiful therapeutic community garden, a charity and social enterprise, located two miles from Birmingham City Centre. Its two and a half acres of organically managed landscape is an oasis for wildlife, a haven of tranquillity, and a destination for outdoor escape and exploration.

Martineau Gardens, Chief Executive Officer vacancy

Salary Scale: NJC 29 (£32,910 per annum)
Hours: 37.5
Location: Birmingham

Martineau Gardens is seeking an inspirational Chief Executive Officer to join our small independent charity, someone who shares our vision and values, invites innovation and thrives on making a positive difference to the people and communities we serve.

Martineau Gardens, holders of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, is an organically managed community garden close to Birmingham city centre. We offer volunteering opportunities for Social and Therapeutic Horticulture; work placements for SEN students; environmental education for schools; family activities and courses for adults. We supplement our charitable income through public engagement activities including events; plant and produce sales; venue hire and visitor donations.

The opportunity to join as our new Chief Executive comes at an exciting time for the charity as we seek to grow our resources and expertise to support more people and maintain the restorative properties of the Gardens. We are seeking an individual who can develop strategy using a creative approach; someone with high levels of emotional intelligence and the ability to influence, who has experience of managing a team with diverse skills and who has expertise in budgeting and governance.

As Chief Executive Officer, you will lead and guide your team of 10 and support them to adapt and develop their services to ensure sustainability and identify opportunities for new ways of working, delivering plans that meet strategic and operational aims.

Reporting to the Chair of Trustees, the role of Chief Executive will support the Board of Trustees in fulfilling their responsibilities in the governance of the charity and will bring good strategic and analytical skills coupled with the credibility and gravitas to represent the charity, motivating and empowering through values driven leadership.

Potential candidates will need to be fully motivated to provide the dynamic and inspiring leadership required to ensure the charity grows and to be able to support the Charity’s vision, mission and values. You will ideally have previous experience leading in the Charity sector, however we will consider applications from a wide range of backgrounds. Knowledge of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture is desirable but not essential.

If you have the ambition, credentials and values to help steer our charity to the next level, we would love to hear from you. Any offer made is subject to satisfactory references to the charity and an enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure & Barring service (DBS) will be essential if successful.

To apply please provide a comprehensive CV, including details of your achievements in each role. Please include a supporting statement, explaining how you believe your skills and experience match the requirements of the role, directly addressing the criteria as outlined in the person specification. Please also outline your motivation for applying for this role.

Closing date: 27th May 2021
Interview date: Week commencing 9th June 2021

For further information, please email Gill Milburn.

View PDF of advert

Birmingham LGBT: consultancy opportunity

This, just in from Birmingham LGBT:

Birmingham LGBT is looking for a consultant to support the delivery of its LGBT Ageing Better Hub legacy plan from July 2021 to December 2021.

The work includes:

  • Briefing for service providers and commissioners
  • Toolkit for peer-led groups
  • Resources for older LGBT people


The contract value is £7,500 inc. VAT, and you are welcome to bid for the whole or a part of the work.

The successful applicant will have knowledge of the issues affecting older LGBT people; a proven track record of writing policies, factsheets and policy briefings; community development skills and experience of working with grassroots community groups.

The closing date for submissions is 14 May 2021.

Full details and how to submit a Tender here

Exterior restoration of historic Argent Centre completed

The Argent Centre with scaffolding, Summer 2020 (Photo: Townscape Heritage)

This is a little different to the kind of news we normally carry but it is relevant because it highlights the work of a Birmingham community benefit society that you may not have heard of — along with the property management company that acts on its behalf. And it involves the exterior restoration of one of the gems of the Jewellery Quarter: The Argent Centre.

Midlands Industrial Association (MIA) is a community benefit society established almost forty years ago. It manages seven properties in Birmingham — including the Argent Centre — and the Chubb Building (known more widely as the Lighthouse Media Centre) in Wolverhampton. MIA’s aims are to promote employment, support small firms and fight dereliction by providing suitable workspace through the refurbishment of redundant buildings and the reclamation of derelict sites in inner city areas of Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

Funding from the Jewellery Quarter Heritage Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund has enabled the complete restoration of the exterior of the Grade II* listed Argent Centre. The scheme for undertaking this major restoration was developed for MIA by Prince Warnes Properties, which manages all of MIA’s properties.

The work has just been completed and includes architecturally faithful reinstatement of the crowning turrets that were part of J. G. Bland’s original design when the factory was built in 1863 for pen manufacturer, W. E. Wiley. Wiley’s pens and nibs sold in countless millions and were exported around the world.

Wiley was a mixture of canny businessman and enlightened self-interest. He believed that better conditions for his workers made for better business and the top floors of his factory included Turkish baths which were heated using waste steam from the manufacturing process. Why waste good, hot steam when it could be sold? If you’re wondering what ‘hammam’ Turkish Baths cost in the mid-nineteenth century I can tell you that a single first class bath started at 3/6d — Townscape Heritage shows the original 1860s advert.

All of the work on The Argent Centre was done by Midlands companies. Stonemasonry and restoration was by Midland Conservation Ltd (Walsall), glasswork and window restoration by Nick Bayliss Architectural Glass Ltd (Birmingham), and the new five-foot stainless steel finials that now top the turrets were handmade by Oakham Fabrication in Cradley Heath. The project was overseen by Birmingham-based Oliver Architecture and managed on behalf of MIA by Prince Warnes Properties.

In the interests of full disclosure, I can say that while I am a happy tenant at The Argent Centre, no one is paying me to say this — I am simply pleased to see the building restored to its former glory. I know it took years to raise the resources to make this possible and everyone involved deserves to be congratulated.

Have a look at the excellent short film about the restoration that Townscape Heritage has produced.

More about regeneration in the Jewellery Quarter.

Townscape Heritage article about The Argent Centre.

Community conversation events — Business in the Community and Midland Metro Alliance

Business in the Community (BITC) is working in partnership with Midland Metro Alliance (MMA) to host a Community Conversation event as MMA extends its light rail services in the region. BITC is looking for local, cross-sector representatives to get involved in supporting the strengthening and recovery of the Birmingham area.

The event will take place as two virtual conversations (Zoom) — the first on Wednesday 5th May 2021 and the second on Wednesday 19th May 2021. Both events run from 10:30am until noon and BITC would like participants to register for both events.

The event is intended to bring together the business, public and VCSE sectors to enable dialogue that will lead to participants agreeing collaborative actions that they will continue to work together to achieve.

The focus will be on the benefits of improved connectivity with areas of opportunity and major employment sites and wider social and environmental issues.

 More information — read the invitation in full

→ Register for Session 1 (Wednesday 5th May 2021)

→ Register for Session 2 (Wednesday 19th May 2021)

Questions or further information: Kelly Stackhouse, Programme Manager at BITC, by email.

Social Enterprise Drive 21 — all events open for booking

Further to this post, Social Enterprise Drive 2021 (previously City Drive), Birmingham’s very own festival of social enterprise, is fast approaching. All events are open for booking now.

This year, #SED2021 focuses on bringing experiences of social enterprise to the people of Birmingham and the broader West Midlands, by raising awareness and supporting businesses and residents to get involved in their Social Enterprise City. There are 21 online events taking place over 5 days, each showcasing the positive change social enterprises create through innovative approaches and transformational initiatives.

On Thursday 22 April, the STRONGER TOGETHER Conference theme is social enterprise growth featuring 17 expert speakers over 6 sessions that can be chosen and attended to suit your day. In addition, the final session of the day is an open networking hour to meet, connect, collaborate and kickstart those enterprise conversations we’ve all missed over the last year!

How you can help

Birmingham is a ‘go to’ social enterprise place and SED2021 has a social enterprise something for everyone. Please help by:

  • Sharing information/publicity with your networks.
  • Booking on to events yourself and alerting your teams and your community and enterprise partners.
  • Tagging #SED2021 in your social media. iSE will reply and promote your organisation by way of thanks and re-sharing.
  • Including SED2021 details in your organisation newsletters.


Browse all events and book

Human Library Birmingham offers free mentoring for SE leaders & founders in WM

iSE, which manages the Human Lending Library initiative for Birmingham has just announced the following:

Free mentoring offer for SE leaders and founders in the WM from the Human Lending Library Birmingham

The Human Lending Library provides access to high-value mentoring for social entrepreneurs.

From strategy to governance, raising investment and tech, marketing and sales, problem-solving and overcoming business growth challenges, it’s a great opportunity for social entrepreneurs to increase their social impact and solve enterprise growth challenges with a fresh pair of eyes, whilst developing commercial contacts.

Our portfolio of mentors encompasses a full spectrum of business experience across different sectors including tech, retail, marketing, public relations, publishing and more, and includes the founders of Pret-a-MangerJohn FriedaMumsnet, Carphone Warehouse and MajesticWine – to name but a few. All mentors can be browsed here.

Apply here — it takes a few minutes.

Or send mail to Elizabeth Forrester at iSE.

Read more about the Human Lending Library

HUB109 announces ‘Future High Street’ platform — an open call for opinion, ideas and collaboration

We’ve written about Erdington’s HUB109 a couple of times on this blog (here and here). HUB109 is Erdington’s managed workspace and business incubator.

Founder Sean Alimajstorovic has just announced that HUB109 CIC is launching something called Future High Street. Its aim is to crowdsource ideas and innovation and enable partnerships and collaboration that can help re-imagine not just Erdington’s local high street, but declining high streets elsewhere in the city too, where a slow downward spiral of closures and voids has been massively accelerated by Covid.

Future High Streets plans to examine four key ideas:

  • What do you want the High Street to be?
  • How can we improve our High Streets?
  • How can we bring and implement innovative solutions and concepts to our High Streets?
  • How can we prepare the High Streets for coming decades?


HUB109 is asking you to contribute in one or all of the following ways:


Read the full story here.

City Drive is back — now rebranded Social Enterprise Drive 21, packed with events, fully online

With 21 online events over five days from 19th-23rd April, Social Enterprise Drive 2021 (the rebranded City Drive) is back for its eighth year, celebrating social enterprise in Birmingham and beyond.

While tirelessly organised as ever by the team at iSE, Social Enterprise Drive couldn’t happen without the support of its sponsors, the support of the social enterprises that offer to deliver events — and the support of you, the people who come along every year to participate in a sector celebration that to the best of my knowledge has no real counterpart anywhere else in the country.

Social Enterprise Drive is truly a collaboration — by the sector, for the sector, with the sector — and that it has become a fixture in the social enterprise ‘season’ that not even COVID has been able to halt speaks volumes about the determination iSE brings to this. It is appropriate, then, that the flagship event of the week is ‘Stronger Together’ on Thursday 22nd April (09.10am-3.30pm), a social enterprise conference about the power of collaborating for growth.

As Sarah Crawley notes with some sadness in her introduction to the programme, this will be the last Social Enterprise Drive she curates, as she is soon to step down as chief exec of iSE. Personally, I don’t quite believe her: I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that she has a hand — somehow — in Social Enterprise Drive 2022. Think of it — a Social Enterprise Drive that coincides with the opening of the Common Wealth Games? I think she might find that challenge too hard too ignore…

Well done to everyone who has made Social Enterprise 2021 happen.

View the full programme

All booking links

‘Transforming Public Procurement’ Green Paper — consultation ends 10th March

I wrote some while back about the publication of the Government’s Green Paper, Transforming Public Procurement. I was reminded today (thank you, Sarah Crawley) that the consultation on these proposed changes closes on the 10th March.

If, like me, you are struggling to fully understand the implications this Green Paper may have for social sector organisations, then some of the heavy lifting in analysis has been done. And make no mistake — concern regarding at least some of the proposals is mounting.

NCVO believes that in seeking to slash red tape and simplify procurement rules too little thought has been given to the commissioning of services as opposed to the purchase of goods and works. A new “one-size-fits-all approach”, NCVO’s Rebecca Young says in this blog post, will encourage authorities “to design services to fit the procurement process rather than the other way around”.

Lloyds Bank Foundation echoes this same point: “In trying to simplify the rules, the Government proposes bringing together lots of different rules into one. The collateral damage in doing so is to assume that purchasing paper clips for Whitehall requires the same process as funding wrap-around support for someone facing homelessness in Port Talbot.”

Locality has a very useful blog post written by Julian Blake, a partner at Stone King LLP, which argues that services should be procured simply and collaboratively and should be “local by default”. Locality argues that public procurement can and should play a key role in how local authorities shape local places and support local wealth creation. 

A piece on the Homecare Insight blog by Matthew Wort, a partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors, makes similar arguments but usefully suggests that in the limited time now left those wishing to contribute to the government’s consultation should focus their fire on two questions:

Q8. Are there areas where our proposed reforms could go further to foster more effective innovation in procurement?

Q9. Are there specific issues you have faced when interacting with contracting authorities that have not been raised here and which inhibit the potential for innovative solutions or ideas?

I hope some of these pointers are useful to anyone looking to make a last minute contribution to this Green Paper consultation.


ChangeKitchen builds on supper club success

Further to this post, ChangeKitchen CIC has announced that it is building on the success of its Valentine’s Day click+collect suppers — each order included a donated ‘community meal’ — by launching a new and similarly arranged supper club.

The Social Supper Club officially launches on Saturday 6th March 2021 — the weekend before International Women’s Day.

For every £20 spent on supper club orders ChangeKitchen CIC will provide £5 of nutritious homemade meals back into the local community. Click+collect suppers are for pick-up from ChangeKitchen at 196-198 Edward Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham B12 9LX for heating and eating at home.

Financial support from the National Lottery’s social enterprise support fund enabled ChangeKitchen CIC to re-evaluate its business model and develop new services and catering offers that are Covid-secure while also delivering additional community benefit. The National Lottery social enterprise support fund has distributed £18.7m-worth of vital financial support to 618 social enterprises during the pandemic.

Read the full story over on the ChangeKitchen website.

iSE is seeking a new chief executive

iSE’s CEO, Sarah Crawley — the search for her successor is again underway

I’m not going to embarrass either myself or Sarah Crawley by repeating everything I said in this post when last her departure from iSE was announced.

She didn’t leave. Her plans coincided with the outbreak of the Covid pandemic and lockdown and she delayed her departure at the request of iSE’s Board which wanted Sarah at the helm to steer the organisation through the crisis.

Well, she has done that and a new recruitment exercise is underway to find her successor as iSE’s chief executive. Roots HR CIC is handling the recruitment.

Trust me when I say that jobs of this significance in the social enterprise support sector don’t come up every day.

The closing date for applications is Thursday 12th March 2021 at 12 noon.

 Advert and full details here.

WMCA launches Community Recovery Innovation Challenge — three top prizes of £15,000

West Midlands Combined Authority has launched a brand new competition for bright ideas that will help people in communities across the West Midlands get through the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

The Community Recovery Innovation Challenge will provide three top projects with up to £15,000 in investment and coaching. There will also be cash prizes and support for an additional 20 shortlisted projects.

» Are you based in the West Midlands?

» Do you have an innovative idea or project that can improve the lives of citizens as we build back better from the pandemic?

» Would you like the chance to get coaching and support that could take your project to the next level?

Entries close on Sunday 21 March 2021.

Read the full story on the WMCA website

University of Birmingham’s fully-funded Impact Internships

Not to be confused with the internships programme covered in this earlier post, the University of Birmingham also operates a scheme called Impact Internships.

These are designed specifically to enable start-ups, social enterprises and SMEs to recruit talented students or graduates from the university to provide support with specific projects.

The scheme offers fully funded internships, taking place over the summer for a period of 20 working days, either on a full time or part-time basis. The intern could contribute to a specific project or their work could involve whatever best suits your business requirements at this time. If you have a graduate role you would like to recruit for, you may wish to offer an initial trial period of 20 working days and utilise the funding this way.

The programme will be advertised to final year students and recent graduates in March 2021, with recruitment taking place in April 2021.

If you wish to recruit an intern through the scheme, please complete this short registration form by Sunday 14th February 2021.

If you have any questions or need more information please email the team.

Read more about the University of Birmingham’s Impact Internships 

WMCA launches new creative & cultural social enterprise support pilot

The West Midlands Combined Authority has just launched a pilot project to test new approaches to developing cultural & creative social enterprises. The programme is supported by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, Black Country Consortium (LEP) and Arts Council England.

WMCA says the project is designed to provide a rapid pilot to address challenges raised by the Covid-19 epidemic, particularly for smaller, diverse-led organisations operating hyper-locally within their communities. It will provide an opportunity for selected cultural & creative social enterprises to focus on business development through a core grant and a tailored training & mentoring support offer. Participating organisations will also be resourced to support micro social enterprises in their area.

Key facts

WMCA is looking to award two £30,000 grants to eligible cultural & creative social enterprises to enable them to develop their own business models and in turn support five micro-social enterprises with advice, business support and a small grant.

No match funding required.

Applications for the two host organisation roles are now open and close on 1st March 2021.

Read full information and applications details on the WMCA website

The state of economic justice in Birmingham & the Black Country 2021 — major new report published

The funding that The Barrow Cadbury Trust invests in its Economic Justice programme continues to help break new and important ground.

The New Policy Institute (NPI), supported by The Barrow Cadbury Trust, has just published its second major analysis of economic justice in Birmingham and the Black Country.

The State of Economic Justice in Birmingham and the Black Country 2021 examines the state of ‘economic justice’ in Birmingham and the four local authority areas of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton under four headings:

» Population and public.
» Household and community resources.
» Productivity and jobs.
» Employment, pay and job security.
» Housing.

The report follows the IPPR’s definition of economic justice as ‘an economy that fairly generates and distributes its rewards’.

The report acknowledges that the existence of many deeply deprived local areas in Birmingham and the Black Country will “not be news to people who know the area well”. But its aim — and it is a vital one — is to ensure “that what is known through experience is reflected in official statistics”. And this is what the report does an excellent job of — setting Birmingham and Black Country data in a national context.

The wealth of data and analysis in NPI’s new report will act as a source-book for a long time to come for anyone whose work touches on social and economic justice in Birmingham and the Black Country.

ChangeKitchen CIC — order your click+collect Valentine’s Day supper and donate a community meal for four

ChangeKitchen CIC has announced a new Click+Collect supper club, starting 14th February with a Valentine’s soul food menu that ‘shares some love’ by also reducing food poverty in Birmingham communities. Now you can treat someone you love to a delicious Valentine’s meal while also donating a nutritious family meal for four to the community.

With so many people wanting to connect in new ways while in lockdown, it’s more important than ever to show those we love just how much they mean to us.

ChangeKitchen’s three-course pan-African vegan Valentine’s meal is one way to celebrate those who are special in your life. So set the table, light the candles and let ChangeKitchen CIC provide that romantic restaurant quality meal to share. Order today to pick up in person from anytime between 5-7pm on Sunday 14th February and heat at home.

Read the full story & order here