Thought Leadership

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News

Introducing the Home of Social Enterprise – our new building with the School for Social Entrepreneurs

It has been a longstanding ambition of ours to own a building and are delighted to announce that this has now become a reality! Through a pioneering partnership with our friends from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) we have purchased 13-15 Dock Street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Located around the corner from Tower Bridge, the former East End dock warehouse has been transformed into a hub of social enterprise activity. As well as giving us a permanent home, increasing our sustainability and resilience, in future we hope it will be a space to bring the wider social business world together and provide new collaborative opportunities for the sector. Buying the property was itself a model of sector collaboration as we and SSE set up a new limited liability company, the Home of Social Enterprise, to carry out the purchase. Our chief executive, Peter Holbrook CBE, said: “This important achievement has been a real collective effort that we feel reflects the very spirit of our sector: working towards systemic positive change and doing business in a way that doesn’t just benefit ourselves but also the community, the social enterprise movement and environment around us.  “After many years of effort, I’m delighted that we now have a long-term home and an asset that I believe will help strengthen and secure our organisation’s future. This massive undertaking would not have been possible without CAF Bank, CHK Foundation, Postcode Innovation Trust and City Bridge Foundation, as well as the work of many social enterprise supporters.”  Alistair Wilson, chief executive for SSE, added: “We’re thrilled to elevate our longstanding partnership with Social Enterprise UK as we join forces in our new shared space! It’s more than just a building; it’s a beacon for collaboration, a home for social entrepreneurship and a symbol of our commitment to long-term sustainability. “We would like to thank David Adair, Head of Community Affairs at PwC, and his colleagues for their instrumental support throughout this transition. We’re so grateful for their expertise in facilitating our move – and of course, for providing our previous accommodation at the Old Fire Station on Tooley Street, which was exceptional.” We look forward to welcoming you to our new home!

11 Mar

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2 min

Member updates

Spectrum Community Health CIC Joins Forces with Hestia to Create Digital Safe Haven in Battle Against Domestic Abuse

Spectrum Community Health CIC proudly announces its collaboration with Hestia and their UK SAYS NO MORE campaign, through the launch of the Online Safe Spaces initiative. This groundbreaking project, which debuts on International Women's Day, marks a significant milestone in the fight against domestic abuse. In today's digital era, the need for safe online environments is more crucial than ever, especially for those affected by domestic abuse. Shocking statistics reveal that 1 in 5 adults experience domestic abuse during their lifetime, with women and men both affected, making it a pervasive issue in society. Last year alone, 2.4 million adults in the UK fell victim to domestic abuse. Recognising this urgent need, Spectrum is proud to join forces with Hestia to address this critical issue head-on. The Online Safe Spaces initiative introduces a secure haven within Spectrum Community Health CIC's website and staff intranet, providing individuals with a discreet pathway to support, and resources related to domestic abuse. This innovative tool, already adopted by major national websites such as the Post Office, British Gas, and TSB, ensures 100% confidentiality, leaving no internet history. It is free to install and use, offering a lifeline to those in need. Linda Harris, Chief Executive at Spectrum, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, "Our collaboration with Hestia marks a significant milestone in combating domestic abuse. By joining forces and implementing Online Safe Spaces, we're taking a bold step forward in providing expert support services to victims in need. This initiative not only ensures accessibility but also offers a sense of security and confidentiality crucial for those navigating such sensitive situations. It's about empowering victims, ensuring they know they're not alone, and that help is just a click away." Incorporating Online Safe Spaces into organisational websites is not just a corporate responsibility, but a vital step in breaking the silence surrounding domestic abuse. The Online Safe Spaces webpage offers a wealth of information and resources, accessible discreetly and in multiple languages. With features like a quick exit function and non-appearance in browsing history, it prioritises the safety of those seeking support. Sarah Dodds, Head of Marketing at Spectrum, emphasised the organisation's commitment to promoting health and wellbeing in vulnerable communities. She stated, "At Spectrum, we believe in providing quality healthcare for all, regardless of circumstances. Our dedication to excellence extends to initiatives like the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign and Online Safe Spaces, as we strive to create safe environments both physically and digitally." Spectrum Community Health CIC encourages those affected by domestic violence to access their Online Safe Spaces, found at the bottom of their website pages, or through partner organisations within the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign. About Spectrum Community Health CIC Spectrum Community Health CIC provides quality healthcare interventions for people in vulnerable circumstances. We work in partnership to provide primary care, substance misuse and sexual health services, in the community and in secure environments including prisons, hospitals and immigration centres. As a not-for-profit social business, we are committed to addressing health inequalities and investing in the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve. spectrum-cic.org.uk

08 Mar

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3 min

Member updates

RAW collaborates with Morgan Sindall Construction and Oxford Brookes University to deliver sustainable furniture

Morgan Sindall Construction have completed work on the Elm building at Oxford Brookes University’s Clive Booth Student Village. The Elm building is one of four buildings being created as part of the first phase of the redevelopment of the University’s accommodating site, delivering 515 new en-suite rooms and social spaces for the 2024/25 academic year. Handed over to the University ahead of Semester Two of the current academic year, the Elm building can provide up to 98 students with sustainable and attractive accommodation as part of Oxford Brookes’ Headington Campus. As part of the fit-out at the student accommodation site, Morgan Sindall and the University worked collaboratively with social enterprise RAW and the scheme’s architects Mica to produce a high quality design. RAW have delivered the first 14 sets of an overall project of 80 stylish RAW 300 range benches and tables in the communal kitchen areas – with tops all made of 100% recycled domestic appliances.  RAW is a social enterprise that specialises in making high-quality, sustainable indoor and outdoor furniture in Oxford that has both social and environmental value. RAW employs people who have overcome some of life’s most adverse scenarios, with 70% of its workforce having fought and won against challenges including addiction, mental health issues, and criminality previously. RAW prides itself on the high quality of its products and services, which in turn tackles prejudice and preconceptions of what people who’ve had diverse experiences can become and achieve. United with their embedded social value the RAW 300 range sets also deliver on sustainability goals. They are designed incorporating tops that are 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. Using the internal plastic from domestic fridges destined for waste, the RAW 300 delivers a more sustainable, attractive and hard wearing option. Alongside the new furnishings, RAW’s Recycling Service has also collected offcuts from construction from the Morgan Sindall site. 50% of the waste collected is then given a second life by RAW in products or resold to the local community. The Morgan Sindall team have purchased picnic benches and upcycled office chairs from RAW for their own use. Steve Vaux, Operations Director for Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “The redevelopment of Clive Booth Student Village was created to make a sustainable and social home-from-home for students, so RAW was a natural fit when it came to furnishing the interior. It’s great to work with such an inspirational social enterprise which has a profound social impact in the immediate area. The furniture is exceptional, and we can’t wait for the students to enjoy them.” “The fact that our social principles are closely aligned with Oxford Brookes University and RAW really supercharged our collaborative partnership. The project’s success is a great showcase for the various ways a development can generate benefits for the local area, as not only were we engaging the local supply chain, with RAW situated very close to the site, but we provided valuable opportunities and support to people from the local area with challenging backgrounds. What’s more, by using recycled materials we’re driving down the building’s carbon footprint to provide a truly sustainable environment for students and the local community.”  Mark Tugwell, Deputy Director of Estates & Campus Services at Oxford Brookes University, said: "We partnered with RAW due to their high-quality furniture, commitment to sustainably sourced materials, and inspirational social impact which continues to change lives. For a project as important as the redevelopment of Clive Booth Student Village, we are ensuring that the living spaces for our students are of the highest quality. RAW worked closely with us to ensure their final product met this standard and I am sure students will love the furniture and the fact that it is made out of old domestic appliances." Rick Mower, Managing Director of RAW said: “The commitment from Morgan Sindall and the team at Oxford Brookes University to truly embed social and sustainability value at scale has been inspiring. At RAW we set out to prove, by the quality of our products and services, that a person’s past doesn’t define them and this project has been a perfect platform to do that. It highlights that visionary and determined leadership on the client and main contractor side is what ultimately makes the difference, powering real change in society with no compromises on project delivery.”

07 Mar

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3 min

News

Fixing our economy with a new Business Plan for Britain

As part of our work in the Future Economy Alliance, today we brought together cross-party politicians and cross-sector business leaders in Parliament to discuss our new Business Plan for Britain, which sets out how the government can work in partnership with mission-led organisations to address huge social and environmental challenges. This newly published report sets out the national policy changes that can empower mission-led business to create a stronger, fairer, greener economy. From reforming the way we do business to putting power in the hands of local communities, and transforming public services to creating a people-powered green transition, the Plan presents a host of policy recommendations that can fix our broken economy. Read the report here An estimated four million of us work in social enterprise and other mission-led organisations; we’re living proof that business can be a force for good, and we need those in power to unleash our full potential. In an election year, we’re calling on our next government to recognise the importance of working for a purpose beyond profit and make our mission-led approach the national norm. Our chief executive Peter Holbrook CBE said: “Social Enterprise UK research provides a hefty evidence base for the impact of business with a purpose beyond profit – and in the face of so many complex challenges, we need this mission-led approach more than ever. The next government must seize the opportunity to unlock the potential for better business and fix our economy with bold reform that will deliver for generations to come.” It was heartening to see influential people taking an interest in our sector at the House of Lords event today – including cross-party MPs, national journalists and economic think-tanks – but publishing this report is just the start. We’re determined to make this a priority for the General Election and beyond. This month we’re also crowdfunding to create a stunt that will cut through the political noise with our bold message of change and hope. To build an economy that really works for our society, we need support from across that society. Will you help us? Support the campaign Please get involved with our campaign – donate if you can, use the toolkit to share it, and join the mailing list to find out about events or actions in future.

06 Mar

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2 min

News

Let’s fix our economy – join our crowdfunder campaign

As a social enterprise, mission is the heart of everything we do - and as part of the Future Economy Alliance we’re campaigning to make this way of working the national norm. Inequalities are rising, divisions are deepening, and the climate crisis is growing. Trains are cancelled, rivers are polluted, people are having to choose between heating and eating – while the companies behind these vital services record huge profits. Our local councils are going bankrupt, our high streets are empty, and our NHS is on its knees. Nothing works anymore. At the heart of this is a broken system. ‘Business as usual’ isn’t working – so let’s change it. Let’s unleash the power of business to benefit people and planet. Let’s build a stronger, fairer, greener economy where all of society profits. Let’s fix our future. We’ve joined the Future Economy Alliance to highlight the importance of working for a purpose beyond profit, and make this mission-led approach the national norm. An estimated four million of us work in social enterprises and other mission-led organisations across the UK, and we’re living proof that business can be a force for good; we just need those in power to unleash our potential. Ahead of the General Election, we’re ready to guide our next government in the bold reforms needed to fix our economy – and with your support, we can put these issues at the top of the political agenda. We’re crowdfunding to create a unique campaign stunt that will really grab our leaders’ attention. It could be anything from billboards all over the UK to skywriting above Parliament or taking over Westminster; we’re planning the best possible tactics to bring our campaign to life, and anything you can donate will help make our message heard in the corridors of power. Will you help us? Please support our campaign We're gearing up for an exciting campaign stunt to grab the attention of our leaders and cut through the political noise with a bold message of change and hope: that we can build a new economy where all of society profits. We’re working with a creative agency to really bring our campaign to life, and anything you can donate will help make our message heard in the corridors of power. To build an economy that really works for our society, we need support from across that society. Every donation is a step towards a stronger, fairer, greener future for all of us. Join the Future Economy Alliance, join the movement, and let’s fix our future.

05 Mar

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2 min

News

Social Enterprise and the Spring Budget 2024

Now that the UK has slipped into an official recession, and with living standards stagnating, this week's Spring Budget will likely look to stimulate private sector activity. This is an opportunity to re-imagine how policy can support business, and to encourage the growth of more responsible and diverse models of business whose aspirations are aligned to the wider economy. The distinct challenges faced, the pressures these exert and the response of the business to succeed can vary enormously across the business landscape. This is especially true for social enterprise models, which already run against the grain of what is expected of a business by prioritising social and environmental missions alongside the need to make profit. However, much national policy remains uniform, and therefore unable to meet the needs of different business models. Efforts to support business growth in recent years have focused on a mixture of tax cuts, capital subsidies and rapidly designed support packages to address external shocks like Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis. Despite their growing prominence, social enterprises are often overlooked by government. For example, the flagship policy of full expensing (the scheme that allows capital investment to be deducted from tax bills) was hailed as the biggest cut to business tax in modern times, and critical for encouraging business investment. However, new Social Enterprise UK research has found that almost three-quarters of social enterprises have failed to benefit. It has been hinted that further tax cuts will be announced during the Spring Budget - but this is an opportunity to adopt a fresh approach. At present, policy is proving ineffective at supporting the growth of more diverse business models. Various policy levers are just waiting to be pulled by government, including: expanding green investment funds to help support the creation and growth of environmental enterprises, while facilitating the net-zero transition among the wider business community. reforming the tax code to incentivise private investment into social enterprises and other community businesses. implementing a Community Right to Buy Act that allows local authorities and the communities they serve to develop local assets that can stimulate economic activity and generate revenue. We cannot continue with business as usual. Social enterprises have proven resilient in the face of economic hardship, but they are failing to achieve their potential. Policy needs to be adapted to recognise that different forms of business not only exist but need specialist support. Recognition of this is the first step towards the creation of a more diverse, vibrant and impactful business community.

05 Mar

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2 min

News

New research explores social enterprise expectations for 2024

The latest Barometer in our Social Enterprise Knowledge Centre depicts a sector broadly optimistic for the year ahead, persevering in the face of economic uncertainty despite gaps in local and national government support. Every quarter we publish new findings from our Social Enterprise Advisory Panel to give a snapshot of key sector issues and trends across the UK. This latest survey explored social enterprises’ overall expectations for 2024, from reserves and profit making to staff numbers, as well as the potential impact of ongoing economic uncertainty amid recession headlines and the cost of living crisis. Social enterprise business expectations for the year are broadly positive; 64% expect turnover and staff numbers to either grow or remain the same, compared to just 50% of small businesses as a whole, and the vast majority expect demand for their goods and services to rise. However, many social enterprises are experiencing uncertainty, with local and central government income highlighted as a significant factor affecting their growth expectations. Many are unaware of and ineligible for support provisions like the Community Organisation Cost of Living Fund or VCSE Energy Efficiency Fund, and around half say their local authority offers no support for their business. We know that social enterprise is more resilient than other forms of business, as demonstrated in recent economic crises – but they also contribute more to society, so they need to thrive, not just survive. We’re calling for targeted government support to help social enterprises develop and expand, generating economic growth and shared prosperity. Creating an environment for social enterprise to thrive requires appropriate policy development. As part of our work in the Future Economy Alliance, we’re campaigning for a dedicated minister to lead bold reform and join up relevant policy areas, so the government can better support social enterprises and unlock our full potential. Click here to read the full report

29 Feb

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2 min

News

Remembering Dai Powell OBE

The social enterprise community was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of Dai Powell OBE, who passed away earlier this month. Dai was a true social enterprise pioneer and is probably best known for his time heading up HCT Group as chief executive, transforming it from a small community transport provider to a national social enterprise running bus routes and accessible transport services across the country. A proud Welshman and former coal miner, Dai joined HCT as a bus cleaner and worked his way up through the business, which grew more than a hundredfold over his 29 years there. Dai helped to show how a social enterprise can deliver public services at scale without losing sight of the business’ mission to support the community. The revenue from HCT’s commercial routes was used to fund transport services for the elderly and those suffering from social isolation, as well as to provide training and work opportunities for the long-term unemployed and people at the margins of our society. Dai was heavily involved in our work at Social Enterprise UK as a passionate advocate for the social enterprise movement. He played an active and important role on our board for six years and, up until his death, was actively involved in our governance. He was the Chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee from 2009-2014 and also chaired the Community Transport Association. In 2006, he was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people. Commenting on Dai’s huge contribution to our sector, our chief executive Peter Holbrook said: “Dai was someone who was deeply invested in social enterprise, Social Enterprise UK and growing our movement into a global force. He exemplified the values of social enterprise throughout his long career in the sector. He was revered and will be remembered both as an icon and founding father of modern social enterprise. He will be celebrated, remembered and missed. He was a real friend to so many people and respected hugely by those he met. He was joyful, insightful, easy and witty company.” Our thoughts are with Kate Markey, Dai’s partner, who we know will be suffering terribly in the wake of Dai’s sudden and premature death. We are forever grateful to Dai for the contribution and inspiration he gave to our movement over so many years.

20 Feb

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