Thought Leadership

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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

Member updates

Tarem Services Limited Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

This month marks a significant milestone for Tarem Services Limited as we celebrate 25 years of pioneering efforts as a social enterprise. Founded in 1999 with crucial initial support from The Prince's Trust, we have dedicated ourselves to tackling in-work poverty and promoting sustainable practices. Through our high quality cleaning and labour services, we lead in driving social value, demonstrating the power of integrating business excellence with profound social responsibility. Celebratory Highlights: A Commitment to Social and Environmental Progress The anniversary celebrations will spotlight Tarem Services' unwavering commitment to employee welfare and its influential role in enhancing community and environmental sustainability. Key events include: Youth Empowerment Initiative: The 'Empowering Young People Through Enterprise' event, scheduled for Tuesday, 14 May, in collaboration with The Prince’s Trust and the Young Lewisham Project, aims to spark an entrepreneurial spirit in young individuals and steer them towards sustainable futures. We are honoured to have the support of the Mayor of Lewisham, Brenda Dacres. Volunteer Initiatives: Employees from Tarem Services and CBRE will actively volunteer at local food banks - Burnt Oak Foodbank (9th May), White City Community Food Hub (13th May), and Community Food Enterprise (16th May). These efforts focus on combating food insecurity and strengthening community support, underscoring our commitment to these vital causes. Looking Ahead: A Commitment to Growth and Empowerment Titus Komolafe, Managing Director of Tarem Services, stated, "This milestone isn’t just a celebration of our past achievements; it is a reaffirmation of our commitment to future growth and empowerment. We remain driven by the founding principles established with the invaluable support we’ve received from The Prince’s Trust, Social Enterprise UK, our clients, and other organisations we’ve worked with. This has empowered us to remain dedicated to fostering an environment where our employees thrive and driving social impact where our community flourishes.” A Supporting Voice from The Prince’s Trust: Kevin Sutton, Head of Service Delivery for London at The Prince's Trust, said, “At The Prince’s Trust, we work with young people from disadvantaged communities by supporting them in building the confidence and skills to live, learn and earn. The success of Tarem Services Limited is evidence that when young people receive support in the early days of starting a business, there will be a benefit to both the wider community and future economy for decades to come.” To find out more about Tarem Services Limited, visit www.taremservices.com   About Tarem Services Tarem Services Limited is a pioneering social enterprise with a critical mission to tackle in-work poverty, particularly among cleaners in the UK. Established in 1999, with the support of a Prince’s Trust grant, the company has evolved into a beacon of ethical business practices, offering a range of professional services, including cleaning, construction labour, pest control, and waste management. Our business model uniquely integrates high-quality service delivery with a strong commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability.

14 May

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2 min

Member updates

Toast Brewing launches a ground-breaking new “Living” beer tap

Toast, the beer brand that brews using surplus bread, is offering punters the chance toexperience the outdoors inside their local. The B-Corp certified brewery is treating selectedlucky pub-goers to a unique experience - with a pint poured from the world’s first “living”beer fount. HEINEKEN is supporting Toast in their mission, and as part of this commitment, they arecurrently trialling Toast beer at selected locations within their pub business, Star Pubs.Toast’s Rise Up Lager will be available on draught in select pubs from May. Toast is a craft brewery that uses surplus bakery bread to brew its beers, with all profitsgoing to environmental charities. Toast has been working with HEINEKEN since 2022 as astrategic investor, focussing on research and development, as part of HEINEKEN’s net zeroambitions. Lawson Mountstevens, Managing Director, Star Pubs says, “We are thrilled to partnerwith Toast, an innovative and exciting brand, to trial the 'living fount'. It is an eye-catchinginitiative that will get beer drinkers talking over their pint, and brings the topic ofsustainability literally to the bar. ” Rob Wilson, Co-founder of Toast says: “It symbolises our commitment to a greener,brighter future and is part of a campaign, "Nature's Taking Over" - merging the joy ofbeer-drinking with the call to environmental stewardship. We’re thrilled to announce thislong-awaited launch for Toast. Collaboration has always been key to our strategy forachieving change, and we’re excited to be able to scale our work with this launch into StarPubs.” About Toast Brewing Toast is a craft brewery that uses surplus bakery bread to brew itsbeers, with all profits going to environmental charities. Food production is the biggestcontributor to climate change and biodiversity loss but one third of all food is wasted.They’re here to change that. Toast is a social enterprise and a Certified B Corp.Toastbrewing.com | #RaiseAToast with @toastale on Twitter | @toast.brewing on Instagram |Facebook | LinkedIn

13 May

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2 min

Member updates

Bunzl and Amplify Goods collaborate to launch the new exclusive washroom brand RE:MIND

Bunzl UK & Ireland and social enterprise Amplify Goods, have joined forces for the groundbreaking launch of a new range of luxury washroom products. The creation of a new brand, RE:MIND, has been designed to combine luxury hand and body care and social value, using a unique, high-quality formulation developed by Amplify Goods that uses carefully selected ingredients that are 96-99% naturally-derived depending on the product. As a certified social enterprise, Amplify Goods donates at least 51% of its profits to charitable projects at the intersection of mental health and the environment, among many other initiatives that drive positive change in local communities. Amplify Goods is an established social enterprise with a track record in selling net-positive washroom products to businesses looking to bring Net Zero ambitions into action within their supply chains as well as work opportunities to disabled, ex-homeless and underemployed groups. Camilla Marcus-Dew, Amplify Goods’ co-founder, said: “Amplify Goods is proud to do things differently. The products have to be great, but we also work hard to design in a way that reduces waste, single-use plastic, and harsh ingredients whilst enabling bottle reuse, and putting more than half our profits into supporting the intersection between mental health and the natural.” “We see this as a great opportunity for Bunzl’s various operating companies across the UK and Ireland, and their diverse customers.” added Camilla. “By the time we reach £700k turnover, we’ll likely be supporting 50-100 people a year, so imagine the impact that will have on the lives of those working on the front lines of climate breakdown.” Simply by enjoying a washroom product, you’re jumping on board the burgeoning social enterprise and ESG movement and supporting both environmental and mental health projects. Thanks to this exciting collaboration between Amplify Goods and Bunzl, this can become a reality on a large scale. “It’s this emphasis on social and environmental good in products and business practices that’s set to be the focus of RE:MIND’, said Amplify Goods’ co-founder Pasha Michaelsen” which includes the support of the physical and mental health of ‘Quiet Changemakers’ – those working on the frontlines of climate breakdown”. “As the founders of Amplify Goods, we know first-hand how important it is to avoid burnout - we’ve been there”, she adds. “That’s why we’re directly supporting these ‘Quiet Changemakers’ in ways they need, whilst also channelling funds into organisations working at the intersection of mental health and nature”. Amplify Goods washroom products have been distributed by Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies for the past year, a relationship which has now been further enhanced with the development of RE:MIND. RE:MIND is a first-of-its-kind partnership between social enterprise and distributor; bringing together Amplify Goods’ innovative approach to industry leading ESG product design and Bunzl’s mission to source and provide more sustainable, ethical, and socially responsible products to its vast customer base. In this exclusive collaboration, the RE:MIND range launches as a small offering to enable all sectors to access affordable, high-quality washroom products. It includes a 5-litre Sweet Orange & Rosemary Hand & Body Wash, a 1-litre Sweet Orange & Rosemary Hand & Body Lotion, and Forever Glass Bottles & Pumps for both the washes and lotions. These bottles can also be mounted using the RE:MIND single wall bracket or double lockable wall bracket. The range is formulated to include luxurious essential oils and shea butter that both revitalise and nourish, with ingredients carefully selected to minimise negative environmental impact. They are Vegan Society-certified and Amplify Goods won’t work with any ingredients that are tested on animals. The products are also free from SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), synthetic dyes, and harsh surfactants. Users can rest assured that RE:MIND only offers products that are of the highest quality. The packaging used for RE:MIND has also been carefully developed to minimise waste and harmful impacts on the environment, with single-use plastic designed out where possible and upcycled waste cardboard utilised as a packing material. The majority of the packing processes have been considered with a view to utilising the skills of underemployed people, including ex-homeless, disabled people and those otherwise facing barriers to entry in the labour market. Working in collaboration with Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies, who have already adopted a similar 5-litre closed-loop solution with other exclusive brands, Amplify Goods facilitates businesses in joining on their circularity journey. Through their pioneering container reuse programme, 5-litre bottles can be returned, cleaned, and refilled, reducing demands on virgin plastic and providing valuable work for people. “Amplify Goods are the perfect partner for this collaboration; we love their ethos and commitment to purpose and we’re looking forward to the years ahead as we scale this ESG industry leading premium range” said Amy McLauchlan, Bunzl UKI Exclusive Brands Manager. RE:MIND hand and body care products are now available from Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies, and soon across many more of Bunzl’s operating companies across the UK and Ireland. For more information, visit remind-brand.co.uk or contact hello@amplifygoods.org

10 May

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4 min

News

Bringing together social enterprises and other mission-led organisations to campaign for economic reform

On 2 May we joined hundreds of people from across our mission-led movement for a Future Economy Alliance battle planning session, preparing to push our sector up the policy agenda for the general election and beyond. Chaired by Alex Birtles, founder of our Alliance partner and supporter member In Good Company, the event brought campaigners together to discuss the role of mission-led organisations in the economy and how we can make our way of working the national norm. The need to change ‘business as usual’ The opening speaker was our Chair, Lord Victor Adebowale, who set out why social enterprises and other mission-led organisations are so vitally needed. Speaking from the House of Lords, he noted that life expectancy falls as you go further away from Westminster, with inequalities in everything from education to care and a growing sense of unease across the country.   Summing up the need for the Future Economy Alliance, the people’s peer said: "Everywhere from our trains to our water, you can see it’s possible to run a frankly shocking service while providing vital resources and still make a profit. Most people in this country now feel things aren’t right, we’re being ripped off. There’s a fundamental problem with the system that shapes our lives, our economic infrastructure – so we have to challenge it and change it. We have one economy, we all work for it, and it has to work for all of us too." Emphasising the importance of action before a general election, he added: "If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always got, and that sense of it not being right will grow. Never before has the choice been so stark about the future that you want to vote for. The public have to get behind us and the politicians have to listen to us. Something different has to happen.” The new Business Plan for Britain The economy is broken and we know that our movement of mission-led organisations can offer solutions to fix it. Our director Dan Gregory set out the key themes of the Alliance’s ‘Business Plan for Britain’, which focuses on five key areas where policy intervention could unlock the full potential of our mission-led movement. Dan represented Social Enterprise UK but was joined by partners across the Alliance, which includes models from co-operatives and employee-ownership to community business and social investment- and what was evident from the conversation was the vital importance of collaboration so we can be stronger together. James Wright, Policy and Development Lead at Co-operatives UK, stated how  important it is for co-ops to be part of a wider movement and highlighted the need to raise awareness of the mission-led sector beyond our individual business models. Oliver Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association, echoed this by talking about how we have more impact in numbers - emphasising the shared belief that “business and society are better when people have a meaningful stake and say in their work”. Helen Curr, CEO of healthcare social enterprise Here, stressed how it joined the campaign inspired by Nye Bevan’s original vision for the NHS based on a “redistribution of wealth and a re-balancing of society” and the desire to “raise a collective voice of doing things differently”. The final member of the panel was Ian McGrady, Managing Director of North West based social enterprise Edsential, which provides services for schools and joined the Alliance to “give us a larger voice”. Ian said that our sector has been “hiding in the shadows” but we can use the evidence of our collective impact to show that “this sector can be trusted with delivery”. Oliver echoed the importance of gathering and sharing good data on the benefits of our way of working, citing many examples: "We tend to be more productive, we benefit local economies, we do community work and volunteering, we have better supported employees and more diverse workforce – so the more of us that work together, the more we can achieve." The action you can take to fix our economy Through the discussion, the challenge was set out: to make our movement not a part of the economy but the heart of it. The Future Economy Alliance is nothing without the many hundreds of thousands of organisations we represent, and we need your help to make sure our leaders understand the scale and power of our sector. Your voices and stories are vital to showcase the value of mission-led organisations and push our way of working up the political agenda for the election and beyond. To help you do this, we’re going to be providing you with resources throughout this long campaign, starting with our campaign toolkit. This contains a template letter to invite your MP to your organisation, template press releases, social media copy and infographics to raise the profile of the work that you do and our wider mission-led movement. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE CAMPAIGN TOOLKIT You can watch the full recording of the webinar below:

07 May

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4 min

Case studies for commissioners

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England® is a social enterprise with a vision to improve the mental health of the nation. It will achieve this through its mission to train one in ten people in mental health knowledge, awareness and skills – the tipping point for lasting societal change.   With most adults spending a third of their lifetime at work, MHFA England focuses much of its efforts there, to change how society deals with mental health now and in the future. Its training, consultancy and campaigning is paving the way for positive mental health in the workplace and beyond. Through its work over the last 16 years, with more than 20,000 employers of all shapes and sizes, it knows that each organisation's culture is unique and the key to maintaining a mentally healthy workplace is understanding the people within it. In February 2024, MHFA England celebrated the phenomenal milestone of reaching a million people with its training, which equates to one in 38 of the population. Social enterprise working with government The government has committed to bringing more voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations into public sector supply chains. VCSE sector expertise means they are often uniquely placed to help create and deliver compassionate and responsive services, and government research has shown there are barriers VCSEs face in entering public sector markets.[1]       We spoke to Vicki Cockman, Head of Client and Training Delivery at MHFA England, to find out more about the social enterprise’s impact and its strong relationships with government. How does MHFA England work with central government departments? MHFA England works with a range of government departments including the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Cabinet Office, the Department of Education, the Home Office, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Our flexible training and support offer can be tailored to support each department’s unique needs. For example, we have worked with DWP to train Instructor Members, who then train their staff. There are now more than 400 MHFAiders® at DWP. As part of our bespoke offer for the department, we also support quarterly sessions to look at the impact of MHFAiders and identify areas where further support is needed. This works well for DWP, but each department has its own approach, depending on its needs. For example, in 2024, we began work with Ofsted on a programme to train all their inspectors in our Mental Health Awareness course. This had a positive impact on those undergoing the training, and aims to create a ripple effect through the schools inspected. The contracting process varies between departments. The majority approach us directly, due to our proven track record, while others put out services to tender for which we apply. MHFA England is listed on the government’s procurement learning framework: a due diligence process allowing organisations to be listed as a preferred supplier. What would you say to commissioners who are debating working with social enterprises? There are lots of benefits to working with social enterprises. As well as meeting your own organisation’s needs, you are supporting businesses who deliver social impact to workplaces, communities and wider society. When it comes to working with MHFA England, the impact can be huge. Improved awareness and understanding of mental health create happier and more productive workplaces. We give people the skills to spot the signs of poor mental health, the confidence to start a conversation, and the knowledge to signpost to support. This can be lifechanging and lifesaving. We know how to work effectively in the public and private sector. When people work with us, they are not only creating social impact - they are getting a partner that meets their needs, provides market leading training and consultancy, and delivers a phenomenal service. Are there any challenges in applying for government contracts? We are thrilled to work with so many different government departments. It is a huge source of pride for us, as a social enterprise, to know that we are trusted delivery partner. We do brilliant work together that impacts both the workplace and wider society. We welcome the desire from government to work more with our sector. As with any relationship, both parties need to take time to understand one another and their ways of working. To achieve this, VCSEs must be treated as an equal partner. To increase the number of VCSEs working with government, the procurement process could be strengthened and streamlined. It can take a lot of time and resource to complete. We appreciate the need for diligence to ensure responsible spending, but it is important that the scale and time involved in the procurement process matches the business benefit of the contract. As a social enterprise, we want our time to be focused on making the biggest impact on the mental health of the nation, not processes and administration. Although we know that government departments want to work with us, we can be asked to discount heavily, which isn’t always viable. Budgets and funding in the public sector have to considered carefully, and we want to ensure we can make the largest impact in the most cost-effective way. We have to find a viable way to achieve this together. For more information about MHFA England and its training and consultancy, visit: mhfaengland.org [1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-role-of-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-in-public-procurement/the-role-of-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-in-public-procurement

29 Apr

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4 min

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