Thought Leadership

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec placerat, ipsum ac auctor ornare, nunc ligula scelerisque eros. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

Member updates

Unity Trust Bank announces new regional directors for the South and Midlands

Unity Trust Bank, the socially determined and commercially focused bank, has announced two internal promotions to lead the Commercial Banking teams in the South and the Midlands. Matt Conroy has been promoted to regional director for the South of the country and Andrew Bird as regional director for the Midlands. With more than 30 years in the banking industry, Matt brings considerable experience to his new position. Matt joined Unity’s commercial banking team as a relationship manager in 2019 having previously held a similar role at Triodos Bank. Andrew Bird brings over 33 years of experience across both retail and commercial banking. Andrew joined Unity Trust Bank in 2021 from Nucleus Commercial Finance following relationship management and senior leadership positions at a number of high street banks, including Santander, Barclays and HSBC. In their new roles, both Matt and Andrew will be leading teams responsible for maintaining and building the bank’s impact-driven lending and related transaction services while continuing to develop strong working relationships with intermediaries and customers. For nearly 40 years, Unity Trust Bank has been helping businesses to prosper and contribute positively to economic, community and social change. Its ambition is to become the bank of choice for all socially-minded organisations in the UK. CEO of Unity Trust Bank, Deborah Hazell said: “We are delighted to promote Andrew and Matt to these significant roles. “Unity is committed to developing and recognising internal talent and these two promotions are testament to Matt and Andrew’s demonstrated banking and leadership experience. “Andrew’s network of contacts and his long history in retail and commercial banking will be invaluable to his team of relationship managers who will bring Unity’s services and expertise to more SME clients across the Midlands. “Matt’s banking expertise coupled with his passion for social impact will ensure that current and future customers in the South of England will continue to benefit from our values-led banking services. I wish both Matt and Andy every success in their new roles.” ENDS About Unity Trust Bank Unity is a specialist business bank with a difference. It lends to commercial firms and organisations who want to help society. With offices in Birmingham, London, and Manchester, it offers an ethical alternative for businesses with a social conscience.  For nearly 40 years the bank has worked with organisations and SMEs that share its values and philosophy, offering a full range of banking services including current accounts, savings accounts, and loans. Independent since December 2015, its purpose is to help create a better society, not just maximise profit. Unity’s focus on its customers, employees and the communities it serves is what sets it apart and allows it to deliver on the bank’s ‘Double Bottom Line’ strategy through volunteering, education, and fundraising. Unity is a Real Living Wage employer, a Fair Tax Mark business, a Women in Finance Charter signatory, a member of the Banking Standards Board and currently holds the Investors in People Gold standard. Visit www.unity.co.uk for more information. You can also follow Unity Trust Bank on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or go to its LinkedIn page.

22 Jun

Continue reading

3 min

Case studies

Butterfly Books – children’s books tackling gender stereotypes

Whilst at school Kerrine Bryan excelled at maths and science, enjoying the problem-solving aspect of these subjects. However, when it came to choosing a career, she felt that the subjects she loved did not give her many options beyond the expected accountancy qualifications. When she was 17 her maths teacher recommended she attend an engineering course which led to her having a successful career in the traditionally male dominated industry of engineering. Her experiences as an engineer and her initial lack of understanding as to what career opportunities were available to her, led Kerrine to set up a social enterprise dedicated to challenging the gender stereotypes which hold back the dreams and aspirations of so many children. Changing perceptions from a young age Butterfly Books is a business which creates playful and thought-provoking stories that aim to transform the lives and minds of children and families. Set up by Kerrine with the help of her brother Jason, the educational books challenge stereotypes and perceptions encouraging an open-minded world for future generations. “Remembering the misconceptions and lack of knowledge about engineering as a profession when I was at school, I decided to volunteer doing talks about my job across the country to children. It was then that I got the idea to develop a range of children’s books that could tackle some of these inherent misconceptions. I saw it as a good way of communicating to children a positive message about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers that are suffering skill gaps and diversity issues.“ – Kerrine Bryan Butterfly Books is built on the premise that representation matters. Key to the social enterprise’s philosophy is the importance of challenging gender stereotypes at a young age, changing perceptions around what jobs are for girls and which jobs are for boys. Through changing this one small aspect of a child’s education they look to inspire the next generation to look beyond gender stereotypes. Their first published book was based on Kerrine’s own experiences and was called ‘My Mummy is an Engineer’. Subsequent publications have included ‘My Mummy is a Firefighter’, ‘My Mummy is a Footballer’ ‘My Mummy is a Plumber’ and ‘My Daddy is a Nurse’ which was the first of their books to focus on young boys, challenging entrenched attitudes on masculinity. Taking the message to schools and businesses Kerrine takes her stories into schools and so far around 7,000 copies of the books have been sold with the stories reaching approximately 15,000 children, addressing negative misconceptions and biases through colourful illustrations and rhyme. Butterfly Books collaborates with major organisations, working with them to ensure that content is relevant and grounded in the lived experience of the people whose jobs are being written about. These have included the British Army, Nursing Now England, London Fire Brigade and Lewes Football Club (which was the first football club to pay men and women players equal salaries). Organisations are also using the books in their own outreach, with ‘My Mummy is a Firefighter being used by fire stations across the country. Butterfly Book’s desire to break down stereotypes and promote a world of diversity and representation is an example of the ambitions of many social enterprises to build an economy based on principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and justice. butterflybooks.co.uk @butterflybooks You can buy Butterfly Books through their website and also on the eBay for Change Platform

13 Jun

Continue reading

3 min

Case studies

Real Ideas Organisation – Growing the social economy in the Southwest

At the heart of the Plymouth social economy is Real Ideas Organisation – a social enterprise based in the city which works across the Southwest and beyond. Its mission is to solve problems and create opportunity for individuals, organisations and communities. It does this through a variety of programmes centred on helping young people into careers and employment, supporting the growth and development of social enterprises and acting as a hub for community, business, and cultural activity. Turning a cherished local asset into the heart of Plymouth’s social enterprise sector Real Ideas is based in the Guildhall in Devonport, a part of the city that, following decades of deindustrialisation, became one of the poorest parts of the country.  Devonport Guildhall, a magnificent Regency era building, became symbolic of this decline gradually falling into disrepair. Real Ideas took ownership of the building in 2007 in a community asset transfer from Plymouth City Council, securing £1.8 million to refurbish the hall from the Community Assets Fund. This was no ordinary building restoration - the social enterprise took ownership of the Grade I listed Guildhall to turn it into a space that gives back to the local community. Devonport Guildhall reopened in 2010 as a space for social innovation – a place which brings people and businesses together to help build a sustainable and inclusive economy in the city. It has incubated a number of local community sector organisations, is home to a few established ones too, and has helped new food businesses to set up and grow during the pandemic by sharing access to the commercial kitchens and bakery facilities there. Most recently, Real Ideas renovated the Grade II listed Market Hall in Devonport, a £7.6million project which opened in the summer of 2021 as a new space for immersive technologies, complete with contemporary co-work and a 360-dome environment.  As well as Devonport Guildhall, Real Ideas also runs Ocean Studios – a space for arts, culture and making, with resident artists, shared making spaces and creative co-work. Real Ideas is also the Arts Council’s Bridge Organisation for the Southwest of England and works with schools, youth and cultural organisations to connect young people with art and culture. Growing the local social economy A core part of Real Ideas’ work is growing the local social economy through the development of community business. Its Empowering Places Programme, funded by Power to Change, has supported over 15 community businesses to start-up and thrive through a mixture of hands-on business support, training, tailored expert support and seed funding.  The programme has developed a focus on renewing high streets as well as in protecting parks and green spaces. Real Ideas has also supported thousands of young people take the next steps towards their future career, delivering employability projects in Cornwall funded by ESF, ERDF, National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Work and Pensions. Environmental sustainability is woven into the business’ operations, underpinned Real Ideas’ One Planet Living’ approach. It runs a range of programmes with this focus. For example, the Enrich programme, part of the Plymouth Green Estates Management Solutions Project (GEMS), specifically looks at how social enterprises and community businesses can be used to find positive solutions to sustaining the city’s parks. realideas.org

13 Jun

Continue reading

3 min

Case studies

NAViGO – Transforming mental health care

NAViGO are an award-winning social enterprise that provides mental health services across North East Lincolnshire in the south of the Yorkshire and Humber region, covering acute and community facilities as well as specialist services such as an older adult’s inpatients services, rehabilitation and recovery services, perinatal mental health support and a specialist eating disorder facility. A social enterprise driving innovation NAViGO runs a huge range of services, coming up with creative new ways of delivering care resulting in more responsive, available and effective services. Here are just a few of the innovations the social enterprise has created: Open access mental health crisis service NAViGO runs a 24/7 open access walk in mental health crisis service where people in a mental health crisis are brought by the ambulance or police services meaning specialist care is given and that lengthy waits at stretched A&E services are avoided. Joint response vehicle NAViGO are trialling a new mental health response vehicle to reduce pressure on emergency services. The Joint Response Vehicle is crewed by trained clinicians and support workers and is deployed when there is an urgent mental health related call-out. In the first month since launch the vehicle attended 16 incidents. Nine of these call outs would have normally resulted in the person being detained but only one of the calls resulted in this outcome. Through providing a mental health focused rapid response service, the social enterprise is delivering better support for vulnerable people and saving the time and resources. Safespace An out-of-hours, open door crisis café where people can get instant and practical mental health support without the need for calling ahead, Safespace provides a judgement-free space for people to speak to fully-trained mental health professionals either in person or via Zoom. Doing things differently Being an independent social enterprise working for the NHS family has allowed NAViGO to do things differently. This includes creating commercially viable businesses which help fund services and which provide training, education and employment opportunities for people that NAViGO supports. One of these is Grimsby Garden Centre, which now employs over 30 people from the local area, some of whom have mental health difficulties or are in rehab or recovery. It has also supported over 100 service users gain valuable training, increasing confidence and supporting them back into the world of work. The garden centre is a big part of the local community, promoting the health benefits of gardening with all profits made being reinvested back into NAViGO’s services. NAViGO’s cleaning, catering, horticulture and maintenance services are all run by Tukes – the social enterprise’s own employment service. Tukes offers training, education services and employment to people throughout their recovery and rehabilitation journey. Bringing these services ‘in-house’ means that money that would otherwise have been spent on external contractors is spent on service users. Since setting up 18 years ago, over 280 people have been supporting into work through Tukes and over 2,000 qualifications gained by service users. navigocare.co.uk

13 Jun

Continue reading

2 min

News

Use “precious” Dormant Assets to grow business in communities, says new coalition

9 June 2022 Social enterprise, charity representative bodies and social investors have joined forces to call on Government to get behind a new plan to back enterprises in underserved places and communities in the forthcoming consultation on Dormant Assets. A 12-week consultation on the future use of dormant assets in England is expected to be launched this summer. The expanded scheme could release more than £880m additional funds for charities and social enterprises. A new ‘Community Enterprise Growth Plan’ focuses on the untapped potential for growing enterprises with a social purpose across the country, particularly in places and communities that have been deprived of investment in the past. This includes areas identified by the index of multiple deprivation and those led by or serving protected groups such as people from ethnic minority backgrounds, those with an impairment or facing gender bias.  The plan centres on providing increased access to capital, dedicated funding to encourage the growth of trading activity, and tailored business support. The coalition giving their backing to the plan includes SEUK, Navca, Power to Change and UnLtd, among others. It looks to leverage both private and philanthropic capital, alongside Dormant Assets – doubling the amount available to communities and ensuring the finite resources available through the scheme are used to maximum effect. The plan builds on a strong track record of utilising Dormant Assets over 10 years to invest in social enterprises, community businesses and trading charities, and complements other proposed uses of dormant assets. It would see Dormant Assets applied to a range of tried and tested interventions to support enterprise and trading activities by VCSEs including: Helping smaller charities and social enterprises to access suitable and affordable finance through blending grants and loans in the places and communities most in need of investment.Start-up funding for a £50m Black-led social investment fund as recommended by the recent Adebowale Commission on Social Investment to tackle the current inequity in social investment.Supporting a vibrant network of non-profit lenders (Community Development Financial Institutions or CDFIs) that can offer affordable finance to community businesses and small enterprises in areas unable to access mainstream lending.Providing tailored business support and incentives for purpose-driven enterprises to grow through trading in the form of match trading initiatives coupled with learning. Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK said: “This consultation marks a once-in-a-decade opportunity to decide how we use hundreds of millions of pounds to help communities. We must use this precious resource wisely. Ultimately, we know that trading is the only route to lasting transformational change. The Community Enterprise Growth Plan is a smart way to deploy limited funds to support social enterprises in places that need them. I hope that the Government listens to the social enterprise sector and experts in backing this proposal.”  Notes The existing Dormant Assets Scheme enables banks and building societies to channel funds from dormant bank and building society accounts towards good causes. The Scheme is led by industry and backed by the government with the aim of reuniting people with their financial assets. Where this is not possible, this money goes towards social and environmental initiatives across the UK. The scheme is set to be expanded later this year – including assets from the insurance and pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors for the first time – following a consultation on the causes that should benefit from the scheme in England. The Community Enterprise Growth Plan has been developed and supported by a range of organisations including: Access – the Foundation for Social InvestmentBig Society CapitalImpact Investing InstituteNavcaPower to ChangeSchool for Social EntrepreneursSocial Enterprise UKSocial Investment Business UnLtdMore detail can be found here including further expressions of support for the plan. 

09 Jun

Continue reading

3 min

Social Enterprise UK and anti-racism

There is no social justice without racial justice: an update on our justice, equity, diversity and inclusion work

As CEO of Social Enterprise UK, I have a unique opportunity to lead change. We are primarily a movement for social justice – and without racial justice there can be no social justice. Social Enterprise UK represents a movement of over 100,000 businesses. We have to get this right. – Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK Social Enterprise UK is an organisation that acknowledges racism and seeks to be inclusive to all within the social enterprise movement. It rightly aspires to be an anti-racist organisation. We will and we must become truly inclusive of those communities we are trusted to represent. I am pleased that staff have taken the initiative for change. Change must be practical, impactful, and measurable. – Lord Victor Adebowale, Chair of the Social Enterprise UK Board Background Following the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020 we promised to take a close look at how we can become a truly anti-racist organisation and to consider our role in the broader movement for racial justice. Since we published an initial statement of solidarity , we put together an internal working group to discuss how we become a more representative and inclusive organisation. We also looked at what our role should be as a membership body for the social enterprise movement and what we can do to influence, and shape change at a systems level. This statement sets out why we think anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are important – and why they will be central to all our work going forwards. For more detail on the steps we are taking, read our action plan which accompanies this piece. What are we doing? Anti-racism is now at the core of our work, informing all our workstreams and, vitally, our role as a voice for the sector. Change must come from the top. Our CEO Peter Holbrook is our Executive Sponsor on Race and with the senior leadership team and Board is committed to this statement, the associated action plan and to driving us to become a robustly anti-racist organisation. However, we have not set rigid top-down targets. Progress will be delivered collaboratively and continually. All staff will be expected to play a role, and all staff will have a voice to drive change. In March 2021 we signed Business in the Community’s Race at Work Charter publicly committing us to taking action to break down barriers for racialised communities and to being an inclusive and diverse workforce. Our new justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) action plan focuses on our internal processes and also our role as a membership body for the wider social enterprise sector. It details how we work with our members and other businesses to ensure that we’re proactively and effectively addressing inequality and that we promote anti-racism across the sector. Why do we believe this is essential work? From its conception, Social Enterprise UK has sought to promote social justice and has seen equality and inclusion as integral to that. However, we acknowledge both shortcomings in our existing approaches and the potential for us as an organisation, and for the social enterprise sector, to do more. We recognise that our economy and society is unfair in terms of who benefits from opportunities and who faces disadvantages. We also recognise that resolving this inequity requires proactive change. We believe that justice, equity, diversity and inclusion should be reflected across every aspect of our organisation and the broader social enterprise movement. We are proud that as a sector, we are more diverse and representative than traditional businesses. Around 14% of social enterprises are led by people from racialised communities[1], and 31% have directors from these backgrounds. Social enterprises aspire to be progressive, but systemic issues persist. Social enterprises led by people from racialised communities report lower turnovers than the average. The median turnover for social enterprises led by Black women was £31,900 compared to the overall median turnover of £100,000. Our latest State of Social Enterprise report also showed that the number of people from racialised communities on leadership teams has fallen. Social enterprises led by people from racialised communities were more likely to apply for finance but secured only half of the median amount sought, compared to 80% for social enterprises as a whole. The Adebowale Commission on Social Investment found that “social investment continues to have a serious problem with inclusion and equity particularly, although not exclusively, in relation to race.”[2] Leaders from racialised communities are under-represented across the work of the sector. Social enterprises should all be change agents to break down systemic racism and build a more equal, diverse and inclusive economy – but these barriers prevent the sector from realising its potential. Many social enterprises realise they need to do more to become anti-racist organisations (and 43% have told us that want to learn how). We want to support our members to strive for racial justice – and to showcase the brilliant work that social enterprises themselves are doing to promote anti-racism. We believe that this has to start by us improving our own practices. What do we mean by justice, diversity, inclusion and equity? We understand diversity to mean diversity across protected characteristics and intersectional factors of the people in our society. Inclusion means that regardless of background, personal and protected characteristics and other factors shaping individuals, all people can participate as themselves with the same voice. Equity means that to achieve diversity and inclusion, some people may require different solutions because of how unequal society currently is – achieving equality cannot be done by simply treating everyone the same. Justice means addressing institutional barriers to achieving equity, inclusion and diversity. What do we mean by anti-racist? For us, being anti-racist means recognising that racism is systemic and that tackling it requires proactive change at a systemic and institutional level – change that might be unfamiliar, uncomfortable and challenging for some. Why are we focusing on race first? There is evidence that particular racial groups are under-represented in our sector and within our organisation. The Black Lives Matter movement acted as a wake-up call – that organisations committed to social justice have to embed anti-racism into their operations if we are to build the fairer and sustainable economy we strive towards. There can be no social justice without racial justice. We know that inequity and injustice is not limited to race. People face oppression based on gender, sexual orientation, class, disablement, sex and age and more. Our approach to JEDI is intersectional– recognising how different forms of oppression interlink. Working to dismantle racist structures will give us tools and approaches to reduce oppression in all its forms. Dismantling inherently racist structures will not be easy. We believe that social enterprises are the future of business and play a vital role in breaking the systemic injustices affecting society. The fight against inequality and injustice is a long one – new voices will need to be centred, new solutions debated, and new coalitions made. However, we can all play our part in creating a truly anti-racist movement dedicated to building a fairer economy. We feel privileged to work at an organisation and in a sector that is deeply committed to positive change. We look forward to working with you and to sharing our progress. [1] In this document the term racialised communities is used in place of the acronym BAME though wherever possible we try to use the term used by the person or group to self-identify.  The term racialised communities recognises the social construction of race – how people are viewed through the prism of race by others and how this is directly tied into ideas around colonialism and white supremacy. As social enterprise Spark & Co phrase it – “”Racialised” doesn’t define the community or the identity, but rather the phenomenon that has happened to them” – https://www.sparkandco.co.uk/news/four-letters-cant-define-81-million-lives When referring to people from specific groups we will refer to them through the ethnicity they define themselves as  i.e. Black led social enterprises. [2] No Going Back – State of Social Enterprise Survey 2021 [3] https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/adebowalecommission/

09 Jun

Continue reading

6 min

1 28 29 30 31 32 33 30 of 33