Since March, I’ve had pretty much an open-door policy. If you need help, and you think I might be the person able to do that, I’m here.

My diary remained full through Spring and Summer. Whether through the incredible triaging system that SEUK put in place to assign the best resource to support whoever got in touch needing help,  through planned mentoring via Expert Impact,  and through direct contact from my network of mentees.

From the onset of this pandemic I have championed the idea that we all need to have two parallel lines of thinking and planning. How do we get through this? and how to we get ready for what’s next? I used this approach in all these coaching and mentoring sessions. 

For many it was hard to embrace a reality that the ‘get through’ part was likely to turn out to be the easy bit. There was optimism that this thing would be a period of ‘some months’ we needed to get through. There was hope that whilst some things might change for ever, a recognisable normality would return. And there was ‘some’ financial support coming through for many of our sector that would enable them to create a survival window.

But here we are. As we roll into Autumn and into another series of lockdowns of varying levels, I’m increasingly convinced that we have to all proactively draw a close to any ‘get through’ thinking that remains in our organisations.

It is time not to get ready, but to be ready.

This is our new world for the foreseeable. We need to accept it, work with it, and understand the role we can play to deliver our social and environmental impact in this new way of being.  If it’s impossible to do what we did before, it’s time to stop grieving over that and define the new way. For some, I know that will sound harsh, but we have to put our energies into what can work not what used to work.

I remain convinced that the social enterprise sector is better placed to adapt than any other because we are simply driven to do the right thing for people and profit. This means we are more likely to think differently and innovatively, more likely not to take no for an answer.  We are more open to collaboration and networking for mutual rather than one-sided gain, more likely to share energy and ideas than to seek to sap it from others.  That said, I know many of us must be feeling at least a little battle-weary right now.

If we are going to give our future the best shot we can, we need to re-energise, challenge our thinking and focus forward.

And that is where the idea came from for Social Enterprise Futures. I wanted us to find a way to get closure on the ‘getting through’ part by celebrating all that has been achieved and learned in the toughest of times by creating a social enterprise Roll of Honour.  Then to bring us together on Day 2 so we can re-connect, re-energise and to challenge our thinking together. 

I hope to see you there because Social Enterprise Futures will demonstrate in itself that you can take an idea and move at speed if you can find collaborators with shared goals.  What could have been just a hairbrained idea on a one pager, is now a reality thanks to those who have already jumped on board and I could not be more grateful that this will be an event representing all UK nations, showcasing social enterprises of all types, shapes and sizes, supported by some incredible collaborators and sponsors.

My urgent and immediate enormous thanks must go to SEUK for  backing the idea,  to Robin and the team at DigiLeaders, for offering to jump in and host and produce us on their brilliantly interactive digital platform, to Liam Black for being my knight in shining armour on a very dark day and helping us get a smashing set of headline speakers from outside our immediate sector  and to the teams at Social Enterprise Northern Ireland, Social Enterprise Scotland and the Wales Co-operative centre for making this a team effort.   We’re all looking forward to having you join us.

A big thank you also to all our sponsors who are helping make an event of this scale possible – Barclays, The Co-op, Deloitte, Linklaters, NatWest and PwC.

For now don’t forget to add your nominations to our Roll of Honour by tagging those individuals and organisations who you feel deserve to be notices using #SocEntFutures. More information about the Roll of Honour can be found here. Don’t forget nominations close 1st November!

And sign up now for the event itself while Earlybird tickets are still available to hear from Paul Polman, Dr Myriam Sidibe, James Timpson OBE, Steve Murells,  Gordon Brown – and many more.

socialenterprise.org.uk/social-enterprise-futures