Thought Leadership

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Member updates

Hey Girls partnering with Glastonbury and WaterAid

Our social enterprise member Hey Girls is partnering with WaterAid and Glastonbury Festival to raise awareness of period dignity at this year’s event. The collaboration will see free Hey Girls period products being made available at ‘period-proud stations’ around Worthy Farm, as well as educating festival-goers about ending period poverty. WaterAid will also provide new private spaces with sinks, warm water and soap to clean reusable period products. Glastonbury’s sanitation manager Jane Healy explained: "Around 17,000 people will have their period at the Festival, but that shouldn’t hold anyone back from having a great week. We hope the new period-proud spaces and the free period products on offer will help people manage their period with dignity and let them continue to have a bloody good time." Hey Girls co-founder and director Kate Smith said: "We are so excited to be working with Glastonbury Festival and WaterAid to help put a stop to period worries and stigma while at the event. Not only will the spaces and sustainable products support those at the event itself, but the partnership will also support people experiencing period poverty around the UK through our 'buy one give one' scheme. We believe access to period products and education is a human right, not a privilege - and we are aiming to bring an end to period poverty in the UK through conversation, collaboration and a lot of hard work." Jennie York from WaterAid added: "Globally, more than 500 million people don’t have the resources they need to manage their period. This doesn’t only impact their dignity, it can have far-reaching impacts throughout their lives, missing out on vital opportunities like going to school and earning a living. WaterAid is calling on governments to ensure access to period-friendly toilets and clean water, along with menstrual health information and support to manage periods hygienically and with dignity."

29 May

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2 min

Member updates

Double national dental awards scoop for Smile Together Dental CIC

Smile Together is thrilled to have won Practice of the Year in the prestigious national Probe Dental Awards 2024 and see Natalie Peary crowned Dental Therapist of the Year. The winners and finalists were announced in a live-streamed presentation at midday on Thursday 23 May in a broadcast hosted by BBC weather presenter and meteorologist Sarah Keith-Lucas. Head of Marketing and Communications at Smile Together, Tracy Wilson, who compiled and submitted the awards entries, said: “We’d gathered around a screen in a dental surgery at Truro Health Park to hear the outcome of the awards, with cake at the ready whether we were successful or not. When Sarah announced that we’d won Practice of the Year we were all somewhat stunned as this is such a coveted national award to win. Then when she announced Natalie as Therapist of the Year, the excitement in that room was wonderful – never has chocolate cake tasted so good!   We’re so proud of the whole Smile Together team for the difference they make every day to our patients and across our communities. This awards recognition is so justly deserved”. Smile Together is an employee-owned dental social enterprise and certified B Corporation with a mission of tackling oral health inequality for healthier happier communities. Its dedicated Outreach Team (which was also shortlisted in the awards) frequently takes a mobile dental unit into the heart of local communities to make even more of a difference to those who need us most. As Outreach Dental Therapist, Natalie makes a difference within the traditional surgery environment, providing treatment to paediatric patients and special care adults who have been referred into the service, and out in the community. Enthusiastic and passionate about prevention, education and reaching out to those patients who need care most, she is central to creating and developing outreach projects to improve dental access for vulnerable groups, families and individuals, helping Smile Together build partnerships to enhance patient care and pathways. Tracy continues: “The genuine pride in Natalie being crowned Therapist of the Year has been so lovely to see. She has such an inherent ability and desire to make people smile so not only do our patients love visiting her but everyone at Smile Together enjoys working with and alongside Natalie. She’s always so willing to go that extra mile, from supporting our clinical recruitment endeavours to featuring in promotional films and media interviews. We can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award”.  As winners of The Probe Dental Awards 2024, Natalie and three other colleagues will now join judges and sponsors at The Ivy in London on Friday 5th July 2024 to celebrate our victory in style and be presented with trophies and certificates in person from The Probe team. Smile Together is no stranger to The Probe Dental Awards, having been shortlisted in three categories in 2022 for Practice of the Year, Young Dentist of the Year and Dental Nurse of the Year, with Sarah Andrews highly commended in a strong and competitive field. Katie Rowe was crowned Dental Nurse of the Year in 2021 and their Smiles at Sea project won the 2019 Award for ‘Best Outreach or Charity Initiative’.  About Smile Together Dental CIC One of the South West’s largest NHS referral and emergency dental care providers also delivering NHS care and competitively priced private dentistry. A certified B Corporation and award-winning Employee-Owned Community Interest Company reinvesting profits back into patient facilities, our community and environment – over £7m to date! Our oral health campaign sees us engaging with children and adults in areas of high decay across Cornish communities and we visit harboursides with our Smiles at Sea mobile unit, bringing dental treatment to coastal communities. Our teams frequently reach further into their communities, partnering with local charities and doing what they can to tackle oral health inequality and improve oral health outcomes. Our investment into accessible patient facilities is transforming dentistry provision in the county for patients who need us most. We’re a committed and friendly values-based team that puts our people, our patients, our community and increasingly our planet first. smiletogether.co.uk

23 May

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3 min

News

New research highlights impact of economic shocks and property prices on social enterprises

Based on a quarterly survey of our members, the latest Insight Paper on our Social Enterprise Knowledge Centre gives us a snapshot of sector conditions and expectations. This new research focused on social enterprises’ ability to increase turnover and generate profit during ongoing economic turmoil but also explored property status, trading with local government and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the sector. We found that the challenging economic conditions faced by all businesses are starting to impact the financial performance of social enterprises, with a downward shift in the proportion reporting a growth in turnover. However, half of all social enterprises surveyed reported increasing their turnover in the past year, compared to the 34% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who reported turnover growth. Whilst social enterprises are outperforming SMEs in this respect, profitability is significantly lower among social enterprises than the wider SME community. A key issue affecting social enterprise finances is rising property costs and uncertain tenancy statuses. The research looks at how this is  affecting social enterprises’ ability to meet their missions, with more resources going to meet costs like rent –  and also their ability to benefit from government support, such as the VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme, which was designed to help organisations reduce energy costs but is only available to those with long-term arrangements for their premises and permission to make adaptions. This quarter’s paper shows economic instability starting to really impact our resilient sector, which has weathered several years of economic shocks. The experience of social enterprises is now more closely aligned with the wider business community: surviving but failing to thrive. In the run up to the July election we will be campaigning hard to make sure political leaders not only understand the issues our sector faces but put in place measures to unleash our full potential, so that social enterprises can continue to tackle the most pressing societal challenges while supporting wider economic recovery.

23 May

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2 min

Member updates

Learning disability social enterprise Nickel Support crowned Britain’s best ‘Heart of Gold’ small business at The Small Awards

Nickel Support, a Community Interest Company from Sutton, which works with adults with learning disabilities and/or autism, was celebrated as best ‘Heart of Gold’ business at this year’s Small Awards for their work within their community with their trainees, and for the social impact they are having beyond their community, through their retail project Interestingly Different. Interestingly Different is a gift and homeware shop and online retailer selling products from 33 social enterprises all of whom support adults with learning disabilities or people facing other life challenges. Nickel Support won the award which recognises the small businesses that contribute a bit extra to their local community. Working with other small businesses, local charities, schools, local councils or their local residents they have achieved great things. Owners Nick Walsh and Elena Nicola, who founded Nickel Support in 2012, were awarded at a sparkling celebration event in central London, hosted by presenter, writer, actor and comedian, Sue Perkins. Nick and Elena set up Nickel Support after they had become disillusioned by the learning disability sector as a whole. They felt that people with learning disabilities were being short changed by some of the more traditional services and that they deserved more. They set up Nickel Support with the goal of helping people with learning disabilities to lead purposeful and fulfilled lives. They focus on three  main areas: relationships, health and employment throughout all of the sessions and enterprises which they run. Since 2012 the company has gone from strength to strength and now works with over 120 trainees across two hubs - one in Cheam and one in Carshalton. In January 2023 they set up a retail branch of Nickel Support called Interestingly Different, with the goal of providing a platform for the trainees to sell the products made in the enterprise sessions, including upcycled furniture, a popular range of jams and chutneys and jesmonite homeware pieces. The other main goal was to provide training and paid employment opportunities through the Interestingly Different shop. Not satisfied with just supporting the Nickel Support trainees, Nick and Elena took it one step further, and decided to use Interestingly Different to support other social enterprises working with marginalised groups, which in turn offers shoppers a place where they can shop in a conscious and purposeful way. Interestingly Different now has five trainees in paid employment and are hoping to increase that number in the near future. Elena Nicola said, “We are absolutely delighted and honoured to have received this award. We are so grateful to have been recognised for the hard work that we are doing both within the learning disability world, but also further afield in our work with other social enterprises. We hope to continue to break down the barriers for our trainees and to see real and meaningful change in the perception of what people with learning disabilities are able to achieve.” In its eighth year, The Small Awards is a nationwide search for the smallest and greatest firms in the UK, across all sectors. It is organised annually by Small Business Britain, which champions, inspires and accelerates the nation’s 5.5 million small firms. Ninety small businesses were shortlisted across 11 Small Award categories, from ‘digital stars’, to ‘high street heroes’ and mission-driven businesses with a ‘heart of gold’. Nickel Support won the award alongside 10 other winning small firms from across the UK. “Congratulations to Nickel Support, who impressed our team and judges with their story of drive and innovation, and dedication to their community,” said Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder of Small Business Britain and the Small Awards. “We are delighted to have celebrated with them at such a beautiful event that shines a much-needed light on so many extraordinary entrepreneurs, like Nick and Elena, and their fabulous businesses.”  Minister for Small Business Kevin Hollinrake MP, who attended The Small Awards and presented the Small Business of the Year Award said: “The Small Awards are a reminder of the innovation and tenacity that makes the UK’s small businesses the best in the world. I congratulate this year’s winners on their well-deserved awards and wish them every success for the future.”  The Small Awards are judged by a panel of leading enterprise experts. Guests at the event were treated to a dazzling display of entertainment by Europe’s largest gay male choir, the London Gay Men’s Chorus, along with fine food and drink by independent caterers. To find out more about the winners visit https://thesmallawards.uk/index.aspx#theAwards. About Nickel Support and Interestingly Different Nickel Support is a pioneering, award winning, not-for-profit community interest company set up in 2012, which works with over 120 adults with learning disabilities and/or autism. Nickel Support is based in Sutton and now works across their two branches in Carshalton and Cheam. Nickel Support was a finalist in the 2022 National SME Business Awards as well as in the 2022 Social Enterprise Awards; and was shortlisted for the 2023 Small Awards. Nickel Support was one of Natwest’s Pioneers Post Top 100 Social Enterprises in 2023. Interestingly Different is part of their parent organisation Nickel Support. Interestingly Different sources and sells a wide range of products from over 33 other UK based social enterprises, all of whom are working with adults with disabilities or facing life challenges. Interestingly Different is open Monday - Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and their website, not only sells their full product range, but also offers a fantastic insight to the work that they do. They also work with corporate clients providing monthly subscriptions of office supplies such as tea and coffee, alongside making gift hampers for staff and clients .  Each and every purchase helps towards the greater goal of an inclusive society where adults with disabilities are able to meet their potential and live a purposeful and fulfilled life. Interestingly Different was one of the Small Biz Saturday’s top 100 small businesses in the UK in 2023, and has since also been named as one of Theo Paphitis’s Small Business Sunday Winners.

22 May

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4 min

News

Showcasing the social enterprise sector at The Workplace Event

Earlier this month, the Social Enterprise UK team was at The Workplace Event 2024 at Birmingham NEC and together with our partners Waste to Wonder Worldwide and Nineteen Group we were proud to launch the first ever Social Enterprise Village at an event of this scale. With 25 leading social enterprises exhibiting and over 5000 delegates attending across the three days, there were plenty of opportunities for the social enterprises to showcase their products and services and the social and environmental impact they have. From recycling services to tea, and from tackling period poverty to air quality, the event showcased the strength and diversity of the sector. In addition to giving the social enterprises a platform, it was great to see the number of organisations looking, often for the first time, to work more with our sector. More and more businesses are engaging with social enterprises to support their social value and environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives, highlighting the value of collaboration as the business community works towards creating a fairer and more sustainable society. We would like to thank all the social enterprises who participated in the event, as well as our partners, Waste to Wonder and Nineteen Group. We will continue to work together to drive the growth of the social enterprise movement and we look forward to the return of the Social Enterprise Village at The Workplace Event 2025.To find out more about the event, watch the video below produced by social enterprise, Inside Job Productions: https://vimeo.com/946139860 This is what some of our members who were exhibiting had to say about the event: Planet First Energy CIC "Planet First Energy CIC had an exceptional experience at the Workplace Event hosted at the NEC Birmingham within the innovative Social Enterprise village, facilitated by Social Enterprise UK and Waste to Wonder. Our Managing Director, Steve Silverwood, delivered an insightful session spotlighting our social enterprise's mission, services, and our commitment to tackling fuel poverty, drawing significant interest from attendees. Furthermore, we had the privilege to network with key personnel from Social Enterprise UK and forge valuable connections with fellow social enterprises, gaining insights into their impactful initiatives and exploring collaborative opportunities. The event served as a great platform to showcase our endeavours, exchange ideas, and strengthen our collective efforts towards creating positive social change. We look forward to attending next year." Nuneaton Signs "We were very impressed by the Social Enterprise Village at the Workplace Show, it was great to network with other Social Enterprises and discover how they interact with the FM and workplace market. The chance to meet some of the Corporate Challenge partners was welcomed, we hope to continue our business development in this sector with them and look forward to following up. The pre event promotion was exceptionally good with the organised approach to Social Media posts being particularly valuable, we had a significant amount of interest, with many existing customers getting in touch." Belu "We enjoyed attending, especially meeting and chatting to our fellow social enterprises at the Workplace Event. It’s a relatively small world and great to meet likeminded folks who are using business as a mean for good! Social Enterprise UK is a fantastic organisation and are helping build a community with a rapidly growing influence in the UK economy"

20 May

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3 min

Case studies for commissioners

Bounce Back

Bounce Back, a charity and social enterprise, creates opportunities for young people and adults who have a history of or are at risk of offending to thrive, and ultimately help to shape a society where everyone can look forward to a bright future. It has been in operation since 2011 and supported nearly 10,000 people. The organisation provides end-to-end solutions focused around education, training and employment, working in prisons and in the community to provide holistic support. Shirley Riley, Director for Bounce Back, told us: “We believe everyone can change, and should be given the opportunity to do so. We provide this for people  inside and outside prison through diversionary activities, including City & Guilds training and wrap-around support into jobs with prospects, with a particular focus on construction trades.” Bounce Back’s charity funding comes mostly from contracts and grants, with around ten per cent from trusts and foundations as well as corporate sponsors. Its social enterprise, staffed by people who have accessed its services, started out in painting and decorating but now offers emergency repairs and maintenance for corporates,  charities and community groups. How Bounce Back works with central government departments. Bounce Back has worked with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as well as several local authorities. An example of its work includes the successful delivery of the ‘E-nuff’ Prison Leavers Project, funded by the MoJ through the Local Leadership and Integration Fund. E-nuff aimed to reduce reoffending through culturally informed holistic rehabilitation interventions, including resettlement planning and employment support. The programme was specifically designed for people serving a 12-month sentence or less with a focus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic prison leavers. In partnership with BeOnsite, Change Grow Live, A Fairer Chance and RISE, the initiative offered comprehensive access to the services required for a better experience on release and successful resettlement - from training and pre-employment support to family intervention and housing support, as well as services for substance misuse and other factors that contribute to rehabilitation. What are the benefits to government of working with VCSEs? Shirley believes that voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) provide much more added value, going above and beyond the scope of commissioned services. When funders, and private sector providers invest in charities and social enterprises like Bounce Back, they also tap into and benefit from their extensive partnerships with local communities and groups, corporate partners, and employers – not to mention volunteers, who offer their time for free to make a difference. Shirley states: “VCSEs exist to make a difference, all our funding goes into making a difference to people’s lives, and communities.” Bounce Back’s work supporting those caught up in the criminal justice system also reduces the cost to wider society. As Shirley puts it: “If an individual can thrive, then the community thrives. If the community thrives, the whole borough thrives, and the economic climate improves. “By reducing re-offending, the cost savings to the government are significant, and also when people make positive behaviour changes, learn new skills and move from benefits to paid work. The average cost of a prison place in England and Wales is £46,696 a year (2021/22). People supported by Bounce Back are less likely to offend, with less than one in ten going on to re-offend, and three-quarters of those sustaining employment for at least six months (2021/22). “VCSEs can also better respond at speed and offer innovative solutions in a cost-effective way. They often go out of their way to “make things happen” - but this can put a squeeze on resources, especially given the uncertainty created by short term contracts.” What have been the main challenges in applying for government contracts? As mentioned, funding can be both short-term and not recurring. Shirley believes that - whilst this is great for testing new ways of working - if you evidence something works, there isn’t a way to scale and replicate so that it can be rolled out from short-term pilots to something permanent.  It’s also common for VCSEs to have to source contracts from different funding streams, to ensure people don’t fall through the gaps and get the support they need when they need it. Shirley commented: “It’s quite paradoxical that the work we’re trying to do is to help people have long term employment and long-term prosperity, yet the funds that they give us mean we’re employing people on short-term contracts.” She added: “Applying for funds requires resource, which for smaller VSCEs means leaders putting on one of their many hats and finding the time to apply.  At Bounce Back, we’re fortunate to have a small resource, but even we find it a struggle keeping up.” While Shirley has noticed social value in some tender questions, she felt it can be a bit “tokenistic” and framed too broadly. For example, criteria such as ‘employing local people’ overlook the additional benefits of working with an organisation like Bounce Back, which not only creates local jobs but also new opportunities specifically for those marginalised by the labour market. Based on a conversation with Shirley Riley, Director at Bounce Back bouncebackproject.com

16 May

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4 min

Case studies for VCSEs

Bounce Back

Bounce Back, a charity and social enterprise, creates opportunities for young people and adults who have a history of or are at risk of offending to thrive, and ultimately help to shape a society where everyone can look forward to a bright future. It has been in operation since 2011 and supported nearly 10,000 people. The organisation provides end-to-end solutions focused around education, training and employment, working in prisons and in the community to provide holistic support. Shirley Riley, Director for Bounce Back, told us: “We believe everyone can change, and should be given the opportunity to do so. We provide this for people  inside and outside prison through diversionary activities, including City & Guilds training and wrap-around support into jobs with prospects, with a particular focus on construction trades.” Bounce Back’s charity funding comes mostly from contracts and grants, with around ten per cent from trusts and foundations as well as corporate sponsors. Its social enterprise, staffed by people who have accessed its services, started out in painting and decorating but now offers emergency repairs and maintenance for corporates,  charities and community groups. How Bounce Back works with central government departments. Bounce Back has worked with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as well as several local authorities. An example of its work includes the successful delivery of the ‘E-nuff’ Prison Leavers Project, funded by the MoJ through the Local Leadership and Integration Fund. E-nuff aimed to reduce reoffending through culturally informed holistic rehabilitation interventions, including resettlement planning and employment support. The programme was specifically designed for people serving a 12-month sentence or less with a focus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic prison leavers. In partnership with BeOnsite, Change Grow Live, A Fairer Chance and RISE, the initiative offered comprehensive access to the services required for a better experience on release and successful resettlement - from training and pre-employment support to family intervention and housing support, as well as services for substance misuse and other factors that contribute to rehabilitation. What are the benefits to government of working with VCSEs? Shirley believes that voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) provide much more added value, going above and beyond the scope of commissioned services. When funders, and private sector providers invest in charities and social enterprises like Bounce Back, they also tap into and benefit from their extensive partnerships with local communities and groups, corporate partners, and employers – not to mention volunteers, who offer their time for free to make a difference. Shirley states: “VCSEs exist to make a difference, all our funding goes into making a difference to people’s lives, and communities.” Bounce Back’s work supporting those caught up in the criminal justice system also reduces the cost to wider society. As Shirley puts it: “If an individual can thrive, then the community thrives. If the community thrives, the whole borough thrives, and the economic climate improves. “By reducing re-offending, the cost savings to the government are significant, and also when people make positive behaviour changes, learn new skills and move from benefits to paid work. The average cost of a prison place in England and Wales is £46,696 a year (2021/22). People supported by Bounce Back are less likely to offend, with less than one in ten going on to re-offend, and three-quarters of those sustaining employment for at least six months (2021/22). “VCSEs can also better respond at speed and offer innovative solutions in a cost-effective way. They often go out of their way to “make things happen” - but this can put a squeeze on resources, especially given the uncertainty created by short term contracts.” What top tips do you have for VCSEs looking to work with government? Shirley has these top tips for VCSEs looking to apply for central government contracts: Make sure you’ve got your basics in place around how you describe yourself and your impact, and ensure you meet the needs they are looking for. Always ask for feedback on bids; it’s a great way to improve future applications. Bring talent from across your whole team into the tendering process - whether it’s the most junior or most senior person, use the skills you’ve got, rather than one person being all things to all people. The likelihood is that you’ll have talented people who are good at writing things. Based on a conversation with Shirley Riley, Director at Bounce Back bouncebackproject.com

16 May

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3 min

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