This blog has been written by Caroline Wilson.

Caroline Wilson is a Travel Care Assistant at HCT/CT Plus in Fulham. She joined the Champions Programme for HCT Group in May 2018, which involved a group of their front-line staff visiting a broad range of social enterprises in Bristol and London to understand the world of social enterprise and the social impact of their own organisation.

When I first signed up for the Social Enterprise Champions Programme, I was not really sure what to expect, apart from what I had read online about previous Champions Programmes.

Whilst on the programme, I learnt that social enterprises help people who are living life without hope. Those with disabilities, adults, children, and the elderly, along with people with mental health conditions, and those who originate from disadvantaged countries. It also benefits the community by creating employment for people such as those I previously mentioned. 

When on the programme, we visited several Social Enterprise businesses, some of which had a real impact on me. For example, we visited the Bristol Wood Recycling Project which buys inexpensive wood that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and recycles it into pieces of furniture. Through this work, they provide voluntary work to those with mental health conditions.

Another Social Enterprise business we visited was Clarity, who employ blind and disabled people in their offices and factories producing soap and other cleansing products. It was nice to see that each employee puts their own personal stamp on each bar of soap they make.

I am happy to be a part of HCT/CT Plus as I know that by working for a social enterprise I am making a difference to people's lives. As a result of the Champions programme, I am now more aware that at HCT/CT Plus we aim to put a stop to social isolation and loneliness for the elderly, young children, and those with disabilities.

I also felt inspired to make more of my colleagues aware of how HCT/CT Plus operates as a social enterprise. Therefore, when I returned to my day job, I lobbied my manager to put up a notice board in our depot that I could use to share information about HCT/CT Plus’s social impact, the Champions Programme and social enterprises in our local area.

Outside of work, the Champions Programme has also inspired me to change the way I purchase goods, as I now look for ways to buy social.

Having completed the Social Enterprise Champions Programme, I feel completely overwhelmed that there are people and programmes that are bringing positive change and making a big impact on people's lives.