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New body established to plan recovery of region’s cultural sector

I’ll mention this here because it’s something I only found out about by accident. It may also have escaped the notice of some cultural, arts and creative enterprises.

Culture Central is leading a new body responsible for planning the recovery of the West Midlands’ arts and cultural sector, which is vital vital not just culturally and creatively but also economically.

Culture Central says of the new West Midlands Culture Response Unit (WMCRU):

Covid-19 has decimated the cultural sector around the world. We think that the West Midlands should respond to this unprecedented threat in a typically generous, loud and collaborative manner.

The West Midlands Culture Response Unit will develop and deliver an action-orientated, sector-led response to the Covid-19 crisis in the short, medium and long term. The purpose is to ensure the visibility, viability and recovery of the Cultural Sector in the West Midlands.

The unit is led by Culture Central…and is intended to exist for at least 6 months, during which time we will support the implementation of a continuity and recovery response.

If this is something you want to be part of, contribute to, or simply have a keen interest in because the region’s arts and cultural scene is close to your heart, then find out more at the links below:

REGISTER for news and updates from the WMCRU, follow the Facebook discussion group and more

Blog post about the WMCRU by Culture Central director, Erica Love

Coverage of the new unit on the GBSLEP website

 

Locality report calls for communities to be at the heart of recovery planning

In a recent post we wrote about a Covid-19 Social Economy Update published jointly by BSSEC, iSE and Birmingham Social Enterprise City

We have been using this briefing paper to inform and influence key policy-makers and decision-makers — including Ministers — arguing for ‘recovery partnerships’ that are more inclusive and which ensure that the organisations whose efforts were vital to the early civil society response to coronavirus — social enterprises, charities, voluntary organisations, community groups — are also able to contribute to the recovery plans that public authorities are now responsible for.

Such organisations were instrumental in making a combined and co-ordinated civil society and public sector response possible.

And yet this is already in danger of being forgotten as public authorities establish recovery groups that offer no access routes for social enterprises, civil society groups or local communities.

If recovery planning is to be more than just business-as-usual this has to change. Social sector and civil society participation in these recovery partnerships has to be meaningful and recovery must mean economic, social and community recovery. 

Locality has just published an excellent report called We Were Built for This: How community organisations helped us through the coronavirus crisis –- and how we can build a better future. It makes a similar argument from the particular perspective of community organisations.

The report makes the case for putting neighbourhoods at the heart of local economic development planning, strengthening community powers through the Devolution White Paper, ensuring greater investment in local councils and the communities they represent, embedding the kind of procurement flexibility and innovation that made rapid emergency response possible through public/civil society partnerships in the early weeks of the crisis, and investment to support and further develop the thousands of mutual aid groups that formed at the local level.

Anyone working to inform and influence recovery planning in their own areas will find something of use in Locality’s report.

Read more about We Were Built for This on the Locality website.

Read all posts on this blog tagged Coronavirus updates.

Finance Bill could result in scrapping of Social Investment Tax Relief

Just when you thought that there was no news other than Covid-19 something comes along that sneaks under the radar. I’m indebted to David Alcock at Anthony Collins Solicitors for flagging this up in his LinkedIn feed — I would have missed it otherwise.

If passed into law, The Finance Bill, currently in the Committee stage in the House of Commons, could result in the removal of Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR). A recent article in The Guardian explains this.

SITR is the only tax break specifically aimed at social enterprises. It enables investors to receive 30% income tax relief on the shares they buy or the money they lend to social enterprises. Its introduction in 2014 was intended to stimulate the social investment marketplace and increase the range and number of investors willing to put money into social ventures, but the legislation at that time also included a clause that would bring the scheme to an end in April 2021.

It is true that to date SITR has been under-utilised and has not produced the level of investment originally predicted, but this must be qualified by saying that SITR is over-complicated, little understood, ineffectively marketed and subject to extremely low public awareness. 

For some time now, Big Society Capital has been campaigning for the Treasury to clarify its position on SITR and in a letter to the Treasury signed by 33 of the UK’s leading social investors and third sector organisations is urging reform and extension of the scheme.

SITR may need reform and improvement, but now is surely not the time to scrap legislation that can help get money into social enterprises and other social purpose organisations.

If you feel strongly about this you can use the very simple Write to Them website to identify your MP and compose and send a letter. Once written, you get an automated email confirmation notice that enables you to authenticate the letter; it is then sent via the website, and each letter is assigned an electronic signature further authenticating it. WriteToThem is independent and is run by the charity mySociety.

Voluntary Sector Studies Network to host free 2-day e-conference

Times Like These: Researching civil society responses to and recovery from COVID-19

This forthcoming free e-conference may be of interest to some.

The Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) has just announced that this year its annual conference will be free and online. The conference theme concerns the wider civil society response to Covid-19. The focus will be on discussing current research and big ideas on civil society responses to and implications of COVID-19. There will be sessions on philanthropy and voluntary organisations, volunteering and mutual aid.

The aim is to bring together researchers and practitioners to explore what has been learnt from this crisis, and what it means for the future of civil society.

Keynote speakers already include Karl Wilding (NCVO), Anna Fowlie (SCVO), Nasar Haghamed (Islamic World Relief), and our own Brian Carr from BVSC. More speakers will be announced soon.

VSSN welcomes proposals from researchers (new and old), practitioners and others who have evidence to share on how civil society is responding to and affected by Covid-19. The deadline for expressions of interest is 5pm on the 30th June 2020.

→ More about the conference here.

REGISTER (free).

iSE celebrates 20th anniversary

During June 2020 iSE celebrates its 20th anniversary. BSSEC and iSE have worked together for almost the entirety of that time and for a good part of it Sarah has also served as chair of BSSEC and one of its Directors.

I think many will agree that without the efforts of Sarah and her various teams over the past two decades, the social enterprise sector in Birmingham — and indeed beyond — would not be what it currently is. Congratulations on your twentieth anniversary, iSE.

The message below explains how iSE will be celebrating…

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iSE co-founder Sarah Crawley: June 2020 marks the organisation’s 20th anniversary

June sees iSE joint founder and current CEO, Sarah Crawley, and the team mark the date when iSE was incorporated as a community interest company — 23rd June 2000 — and celebrate twenty years of operating as a social enterprise.

Sarah has led iSE CIC through successive periods of change — some good, some extremely challenging — and iSE is now widely recognised as one of the most sustainable local and regional social enterprise development agencies in what is a very tough and demanding marketplace.

Throughout June, iSE will be sharing highlights from the last 20 years so please feel free to enjoy some quick reads, news and messages on our website here.

Sarah Crawley says, ‘This anniversary is our way of not only sharing our story but thanking all those amazing entrepreneurs, supporters and #socent friends who have been, and still are, part of our sustainability and success. Real achievement is always a collaboration of great people willing to share ideas, passion and knowledge – it’s definitely a “team game”!’

‘iSE — or, to use our full registered name, Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs CIC — makes me hugely proud. To have sustained through 20 years feels to me like a massive achievement. Our staff and our Board have been integral to our success and sustainability. Over the years we have flexed and changed to continue to meet the needs of trading social businesses and this has enabled us to focus especially on supporting economically marginalised groups and the development of the trading environment for social enterprises. Relationships and strong, working partnerships are at the heart of everything we do: we recognise when we don’t have the skills but others do, and we want to thank everyone we have worked with over the past 20 years for your support and commitment.’

WiSE WEDNESDAY WEBINAR | 10th June 2020, 10.00am

Sarah is the expert speaker for the next free WiSE Wednesday webinar on the subject of LEADERSHIP, ADVERSITY & SUSTAINABILITY.

Ensuring sustainability through adversity, while maintaining enthusiasm and leading a diverse team, Sarah shares her journey and key learning points from the last twenty years and helps us look ahead to post-lockdown opportunities and the social enterprise landscape ahead. There really couldn’t be a more appropriate topic in the current circumstances, could there?

→ PLEASE BOOK ON TO #WiSEWednesday WEBINAR #4 HERE.

Read more about the WiSE Wednesday webinar series.

→ Read previous posts on this blog about WiSE Wednesday webinars.

Accord Group emergency volunteering roles to support vulnerable residents — update

The Accord Group is one of the largest housing and social care organisations in the Midlands, providing 13,000 affordable homes and health and social care to 80,000 people and employing nearly 4,000.

In the first few days of April Accord was appealing for emergency volunteers to support its critical services during the Covid-19 emergency.

We have just received an update. Eighteen new volunteer roles are currently being advertised on the Do-It website.

This PDF gives details of the times/days of the roles and locations. The roles are split more or less equally between Volunteer Grocery Shopping/Delivery, and Admin Volunteering.

If you have any questions about these roles you can contact Dee Kumari at Accord: send mail or text/call 07788 385390. Thank you.

Details of roles.

Apply to volunteer.

→ See all posts tagged coronavirus updates.

Jericho Foundation’s social enterprises — adapting for a full Covid-safe re-opening

After nearly two months of lockdown, BSSEC member Jericho Foundation is starting to re-open its social enterprises, strictly adhering to the latest government guidance. Each business will be operating somewhat differently to ensure that it is Covid-safe.

We thought you might find it interesting to see what one of Birmingham’s longest-established group of social enterprises is doing to meet the demands of these extraordinary times.

Jericho Cleaning

Jericho Cleaning offers a range of contract cleaning services for businesses, charities, voluntary organisations, churches and community groups and throughout recent months it has been able to continue to provide a vital service to some of its customers.

Now it is starting to operate fully again and is able to offer a complete cleaning service to commercial and domestic customers. Its cleaners observe the government’s public health guidelines, are equipped with the correct protective equipment, including face coverings, and operate with social distancing in mind.

In addition Jericho Cleaning is now an Infection Control Specialist, fully trained and accredited, and able to offer a full deep clean and disinfection of premises.

A full fogging system proven to kill Covid-19 is offered, with clients receiving a display certificate on completion. This service, Jericho says, is proving very important in rebuilding customer confidence.

If you would like a quotation for a deep clean service prior to re-opening premises, send mail to Jericho Cleaning. This service adheres to Public Health England and NHS protocols.

Miracle Laundry

KIngs Heath-based Miracle Laundry re-opens on the 1st June, operating Monday- Friday, from 10am – 4pm.

To make the business Covid-safe:

  • The laundry will be limited to two customers at a time.
  • Dry cleaning, service washes and ironing can be dropped off and collected when ready.
  • Payment by credit card only.
  • Cleaning stations available.
  • The laundry will be deep cleaned daily before opening.

 

MIracle Laundry: 282 Vicarage Road, B14 7NH, 0121 441 5431.

The Wood Shack

The Wood Shack’s online shop is open on a click and collect basis. All collections follow government guidelines regarding health and hygiene standards, as well as strict social distancing.

The Wood Shack offers timber for all kinds of building and DIY projects and all timber is reclaimed from building sites and other sources, making The Wood Shack not just excellent value but environmentally sound too. Every item of timber you buy at The Wood Shack would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

→ If you’re looking for scaffold boards The Wood Shack sells them for £1.10/ft. Send email with your requirements and The Wood Shack will get back to you to arrange the order. Alternatively, for general Wood Shack stock enquiries send this email.

The Wood Yard — Jericho’s retail yard for timber — will be re-opening in the next few weeks. Keep an eye on its Wood Shack Facebook page or website for details.

The ReUsers

The extremely popular Jericho ReUsers rescues, restores and recycles second-hand items. Jericho is currently planning for the safe reopening of its ReUsers retail stores in Sutton Coldfield and Balsall Heath and will post updates on its ReUsers Facebook page.

In the meantime selected items are still being offered in its ReUsers eBay shop.

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We hope you’ll agree with us that to see determined social enterprises such as Jericho’s adapting and reopening is great news. We also thought that anyone struggling with the practicalities — and the responsibility — of Covid-safe reopening might find something reassuring in this.

 Find out more about all of Jericho Foundation’s social enterprises.

See all posts tagged Jericho Foundation.

How to reach us — update

This post is a sticky — newer posts appear beneath it

Our usual BSSEC email account is temporarily out of order

This means that until further notice all correspondence for BSSEC should be sent to this address.

We are still able to offer a free email circulation service for readers wishing to circulate news, information, events.

We also post items on this blog and these also go to Twitter and to my LinkedIn network.

→ To avoid missing items follow us on Twitter @BSSEC_CIC or join my LinkedIn network.

New report examines a community-based micro-enterprise model in adult social care

The Covid-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on the social care sector — on every aspect, from sessional home care support to the most expensive residential nursing care and everything in between.

The shrill outrage we are currently hearing from many politicians about social care being undervalued — as if this could conceivably be news — is largely spurious, for anyone with the slightest firsthand experience of the social care market knows it is dysfunctional and inequitable.

A new and very local micro-enterprise model in care is explored in a report that has just been published.

Produced jointly by the New Economics Foundation and Community Catalysts, the report, Community Micro-Enterprise as a Driver of Local Economic Development in Social Care, explores the benefits to local economies of one particular approach to care — local community-based micro-entrepreneurs providing care. Community Catalysts, which has been championing this model for some time now, defines such micro-enterprises as ‘very small organisations set up by people looking to provide care and support’ with some ‘run by one person, working on their own, while others employ a small number of staff, generally up to five’.

In places like Somerset, where care micro-enterprises have been promoted by the local authority, they have proliferated – with numbers jumping from around 50 to more than 450 over five years. A 2017 evaluation showed that the 223 micro-enterprises then up and running were delivering £938,607 in annual savings, while doing a better job of achieving outcomes than traditional home care agencies.

Read more about this work on the New Economics Foundation website.

→ Read the report.

NLCF announces £200m Coronavirus Community Support Fund

The National Lottery Community Fund issued a press release yesterday 20th May confirming that the it will be distributing funds from the government’s new Coronavirus Community Support Fund and that applications commence tomorrow Friday 22nd May. NLCF said:

We’re delighted to confirm that the Government’s new Coronavirus Community Support Fund will open for applications at 10am on Friday 22nd May.

This new funding stream makes available £200m in Government funding that will be aimed primarily at small to medium organisations in England.

The Fund has two key objectives:

  • To increase community support to vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 crisis, through the work of civil society organisations.
  • To reduce temporary closures of essential charities and social enterprises, ensuring services for vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19 have the financial resources to operate, and so reduce the burden on public services.

 

Grants will allow organisations to meet service costs, where they are experiencing increased demand and/or short-term income disruption. Grants will also allow organisations to refocus services to address more immediate beneficiary needs in light of COVID-19.

Read the press release in full on the National Lottery Community Fund website.

WiSE Wednesday webinar #3 — Developing an Agile Workforce

Following on from the previous session on mentoring for change, iSE CIC announces its third social enterprise WiSE Wednesday webinar, Developing an Agile Workforce with HR specialists Roots HR CIC on Wednesday 27th May at 2.00pm.

Roots HR Director, Alison Smith, shares her knowledge and insights on creating workforce agility, developing a resilient, receptive workforce, and explores how to build flexibility into contracts and your enterprise working practice.

During these extraordinary times, enterprises are adapting at rapid pace to meet extreme challenges. Workforce development and resilience are critical factors in achieving essential enterprise transformation. Maintaining your staff teams while delivering in an ever more flexible work environment needs strategic thinking and reviewing of your employment practices including policy, contracts and upskilling to meet new market needs.

Register for your free online place here.

→ If you require further information, please email Sallie Ryan.

WiSE Wednesday is facilitated byiSE CIC as part of its social enterprise support services including the GBSLEP Business Support Programme.

iSE’s FUSE start-up programme now open — new online delivery from June

iSE provides new-start social entrepreneurs with support and development opportunities to build sustainable social enterprises.

Its FUSE programme is for near-trade or early-start stage social entrepreneurs in the West Midlands that want to fast-track their idea, grow networks, develop collaborative opportunities and develop sustainable social businesses that create measurable impact. The programme is fully-funded and delivered in group-led sessions through practical masterclasses and peer support.

The programme runs for 6 months and provides:

  • Monthly masterclasses covering key elements of start-up coaching.
  • Mentoring.
  • Peer support.
  • Access to opportunities, developing sector connections and networks.

 

The June 2020 FUSE programme is open to applications now. Applications close on the 5th June and the programme will begin on 16th June 2020.

Focus for 2020 will be start-up social enterprises in the health, social care and wellbeing fields and in particular applicants that want to develop solutions to the Covid-19 crisis. We want to support individuals and groups with ideas that innovate and address the needs of people and communities as we emerge into our ‘new’ world.

Applicants will need to prove they have the makings of a sustainable social enterprise including income generation through trading rather than relying on grant funding.

The programme normally operates face-to-face but in response to the coronavirus crisis has been adapted to virtual sessions using Zoom. It will be delivered in six sessions over six months, the majority taking place on Tuesday evenings 6pm-8pm (exact time tbc).

How to apply

Request an application form by email from Elizabeth Forrester

 In your application you will need to show clearly:

  • What your social enterprise will do
  • Your strategy for income generation
  • Your desire to be a CIC or a ‘social enterprise’
  • How you will achieve social impact

 

More about the FUSE programme.

Business in the Community launches National Business Response Network to help organisations affected by coronavirus

A few weeks ago Business in the Community (BITC) launched a National Business Response Network (NBRN), its own contribution to enabling businesses to help local organisations affected by the coronavirus crisis. The service is aimed at registered charities, businesses, health and governmental agencies. The founding partners of the new network are AXA and the London Stock Exchange Group.

NBRN is an online platform where offers from businesses and requests from communities across the country are matched. BITC says that it is absolutely delighted that in such a short time it has been able to match more than 400 community requests for help with businesses able to offer support.

→ If you want to know more about BITC’s National Business Response Network you email Kelly Stackhouse or Palvinder Dulai.

Alternatively go to the National Business Response Network website where you can log your offers of support or make a request.

 

 

 

Free guidance about employers’ health and safety obligations as lockdown is relaxed

Are you reopening your business and welcoming staff back into the workplace?

Our friends at Anthony Collins Solicitors have produced some very useful guidance about employers’ health and safety obligations as lockdown is relaxed and businesses face the practical implications of reopening premises safely.

Read Health and safety after lockdown: top tips for businesses resuming operations.

Human Lending Library recruits ‘crisis experts’ offering FREE advice

Further to this post, more news just in about new experts joining the Human Lending Library scheme in Birmingham. Read on for more.

In response to the challenges social enterprises and charities are facing due to coronavirus, four new experts have joined the Human Lending Library to offer their support.

They join more than 60 other renowned business leaders offering advice based on their experience.

If you’re a social entrepreneur whose organisation is having a tough time of it at present, why not apply?

Crisis experts include Preyal Dewani, founder of change experts Handpicked Society, Bill Mew, founder of crisis management firm Crisis Team, Chris Gourlay, founder of community focused crowdfunding platform Spacehive offering experience in change management, digital working, raising finance and more, and Joan Ball, founder of WOMBLab and an Associate Professor of Marketing at St. John’s University, NYC.

The Human Lending Library Birmingham is delivered by charity Expert Impact in partnership with social enterprise development organisation iSE.

For more information about the scheme and to apply.

Clockwise from top left: Bill Mew, Preyal Dewani, Chris Gourlay, Joan Ball

iSE offers WiSE Wednesday webinar — Mentoring for Change

iSE CIC is excited to announce the second WiSE Wednesday webinar, Mentoring for Change with Kendra Walsh, Director of Expert Impact, home of the Human Lending Library.
 
There’s a lot of talk about ‘pivoting you business’ but what does it mean, how do you do it… even why should you do it?
 
The importance of having a good Mentor is well documented, and never more important than in current times.
 
Join iSE CIC and Kendra Walsh as we explore how high-impact mentoring can drive focus, catalyse change, and bring about resilience and sustainability to generate new thinking that can help develop new markets, delivery models and opportunities for your social enterprise.
 
This timely, strategic online session is aimed at (but not exclusive to) enterprise leaders and managers as we begin to look ahead to our post-lockdown world and future plan for our sector and our enterprises. Looking at how we can work ‘on’ our enterprise during this enforced downtime, adapt to these fluid economic times, and how mentoring can help facilitate challenge and innovation.
 
  • WHO: Kendra Walsh, Director of Expert Impact, home of the Human Lending Library
  • WHAT: Mentoring for Change plus Q&A
  • WHEN: Wednesday 13th May 2020, 10.00am
  • REGISTER: WiSE Wednesday #2 
 
Registering for this WiSE Wednesday webinar is free and forms part of the social enterprise sector support services from iSE CIC, including the GBSLEP Business Support Programme.
 
For further information on the WiSE Wednesday webinar series, please send mail to Sallie Ryan

BVSC offers free financial advice & support for smaller charities and social enterprises in Birmingham

BVSC has just announced that it is making available free advice and support on financial resilience for the city’s smaller charities and social enterprises that have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. It is targeting organisations with a turnover below £100,000 a year.

‘We are aware,’ says BVSC, ‘that the Covid-19 crisis has created a significant financial challenge for the voluntary and community sector in the city and that in many cases individual support is the best way to address this. This support is intended for organisations that identify themselves as being adversely financially effected by the Covid-19 crisis, in a way that may result in closure or very significant financial losses. The support will be provided by a finance specialist with an in-depth understanding of finances within charities and social enterprises.’

Organisations most at-risk, BVSC says, are small organisations and especially:

  • Those reliant on income generated by hiring out physical space.
  • Social enterprises reliant on trading income that has ceased due to Covid-19.
  • Those reliant on small donations and direct fundraising by the public.

 

All details for accessing this support are here.

Government announces ‘top-up to local business grant funds scheme’

Further to this post, the briefing paper we recently posted online (Covid-19 Social Economy Update) refers to eligibility criteria for the government’s Small Business Grant Fund.

On p.4 (point [a]), we explain that the key eligibility mechanism for the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) – that of qualifying for either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) – disadvantages social enterprises because some (especially smaller ones) may be renting shared spaces where inclusive monthly fees remove their eligibility for Small Business Rates Relief and prevent their qualifying for this grant support.

This may be about to change.

On the 2nd May the government announced that it has made a further £617m in discretionary funding to local authorities so that they can address these exclusions. Further guidance to local authorities is yet to be issued but what is available at the moment suggests that the discretionary funding applies (amongst others) to ‘businesses in shared spaces’ and ‘small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief’.

It may therefore be relevant to some in the sector. Specific detail about how Birmingham City Council will apply this discretionary funding is not yet available, however.

Read the announcement here on gov.uk.

→ Read our Covid-19 Social Economy Update briefing paper.

Social economy needs to help plan for economic, social and community recovery — read our briefing paper

In a spirit of contributing to a wider debate about how we can begin to move beyond the immediate health crisis and plan for economic, social and community recovery BSSEC and the Birmingham Social Enterprise City steering group have produced a briefing paper that we hope will help prompt discussion both within the sector and more widely amongst policy-makers.

As well as making detailed recommendations about how existing business support packages can be made more equitable for social enterprises, it looks forward too and makes a central point regarding the need for policy-makers, public authorities, the private sector, business groups and the social economy to work together in a collective effort for economic, social and community recovery. We call for ‘recovery partnerships’ to be established as a means to ensure this necessary joint effort.

Over the coming days we’ll be sending this paper to key local and regional policy-makers to prompt debate and engagement. We think it will be of interest because it helps illuminate some of the real-life issues for social enterprises and the wider social economy — and as far as we have been able to see this is not a story that is being covered elsewhere.

We hope you find it useful.

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We also support SEUK‘s recent  joint letter to the Chancellor, signed by ten social economy leaders (also covered by Third Sector here). 

The letter emphasises the vital economic and employment contribution that social enterprise makes to the UK economy but reports that the design of current support programmes for business are causing social enterprises to fall through the cracks. To address these failings it calls for:

  • Extending existing business grants to include social enterprises.
  • Changing the delivery of loan finance to work for social enterprises.
  • Opening up emergency financing for public services to social enterprises delivering
    services on behalf of the state.
  • Providing business support so that social enterprises can use any funds they do receive to effectively transition their businesses.

 

Read our briefing paper: Covid-19 Social Economy Update: Birmingham — Impact & Issues.

→ Read SEUK’s joint letter to the Chancellor.

→ Also relevant: Government announces ‘top-up to local business grant funds scheme’.

How one social enterprise is planning to be part of the post-virus recovery

Martin Hogg, founder and chief executive of Citizen Coaching, the counselling social enterprise, has tried various approaches over recent years to grow and scale-up the business. ‘We’ve always reinvested in the business,’ he says, ‘but this alone was never enough to really scale-up and help much greater numbers of clients.’ 

Things came to a head when the enterprise secured a major NHS contract. It needed to consolidate eight counselling rooms on three different sites and expand its headquarters in Birmingham’s Custard Factory to accommodate fourteen counselling rooms. Finance became a critical issue.

A mixed loan/grant investment from the Key Fund of £80,000 enabled this successful expansion and the business now delivers 20,000 counselling sessions a year via its network of sixty counsellors. The current coronavirus crisis has required a complete transformation of its services so that everything can be delivered online.

Martin Hogg: young people face a perfect storm of mental ill-health

It has also made its anger management sessions into a free online service for which hundreds of people across the country have already signed-up.

Martin explains why: ‘75% of our clients are 14 to 24-year olds and are referred to us via schools, youth workers and GPs. I’m concerned that during the current lockdown these young people are falling through the cracks. I’m sure we are experiencing a major rise in hidden mental health problems. Making our anger management counselling sessions as widely available as possible was the least we could do.’

The enterprise is also concerned that once the lockdown is relaxed huge numbers of people needing mental health support will hit GP surgeries and is preparing for longer-term mental health issues amongst teenagers and young people as the Covid-19 fall-out continues. ‘Social isolation, health worries, and exam and future career anxieties add up to a perfect storm,’ Martin says.

Scaling-up successfully has been a long process but Martin believes the effort has been worth it and has been a central part of repositioning the enterprise for the new future we will all face. ‘Our priority has been to ensure that we have an agile workforce, well-supported online systems and counsellors who have been skilled-up to meet these new and more complex demands,’ he says, ‘and that’s where we are right now.’

Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund, says: “Social enterprises are businesses with a social or environmental mission at their heart. This is a movement that has grown to be at the forefront of tackling society’s biggest problems, from homelessness, addiction, loneliness, poverty and inequality to the environment, green energy, food waste and recycling. And they will be central to the economic and social recovery after coronavirus.’

That last point is clearly one that Citizen Coaching’s Martin Hogg would echo.

And so do we: the coronavirus crisis is still at the forefront, but we believe that the region’s key institutions, investment funds, local enterprise partnerships, public authorities and businesses need to be planning now for a co-ordinated economic, social and community recovery effort — and that it is essential that this is done in discussion with social economy partners.

Find out more about Citizen Coaching’s services and sign-up for its free online anger management counselling.

→ Find out more about Key Fund investment.

Read all posts tagged ‘Coronavirus updates’.