The last few weeks have completely overhauled our way of life as a country, throwing old certainties to the wind and creating a social and economic crisis which is unprecedented. Social enterprises, like all organisations are having to navigate this strange new world and many are struggling to stay afloat at this difficult time. However, as is so often the case, social enterprises are stepping up, continuing to support their communities and doing all they can to protect the vulnerable and play their part in our collective response to the pandemic.

Many of our health and care social enterprises are scaling up and re-purposing their delivery to support the response to corona virus. They provide vital roles in our communities, and are often the front line of response, from primary care to social care. Our community health service members along with the rest of the community care sector have enabled the equivalent of 56 general hospitals to be discharged in a matter of days. Others are re-purposing their offer, Social Adventures for example have established a COVID-19 triage centre in their Head Quarters. All are doing tremendous work and are facing additional challenges to those faced by their NHS colleague – many have been excluded from essential personal protection deliveries, which keep their patients and employees safe, or not been included in vital communications nationally and regionally. Despite this they are delivering key services in unprecedented circumstances and are very much at the heart of our the nation’s efforts to battle coronavirus.

This page will list just a few of the things social enterprises are doing to help us get through the crisis.

Bikeworks – Bikeworks is a bike shop with a social mission – running cycle clubs for people with mental health support needs and those with disabilities. It aims to get more us us active and cycling and uses funding from team building events to run free programmes for vulnerable groups. Covid-19 has led to the social enterprise totally re-purposing it’s business, setting up a cycle delivery service providing food, medicine and other essential supplies to people who need them. In its first two weeks, Bikeworks hit an amazing total of 1,000 deliveries. They are working with local authorities to identify people who most need support and are continuing to adapt to help as many people as possible. Find out more in this great piece in social enterprise magazine Pioneers Post.

Brewgooder – Social enterprise Brewgooder is giving people the chance to donate a round of beer to support NHS workers on the front-line of the crisis. You can gift a four pack of their beer, where all profits go to fund clean water projects around the world and leave a message of support to our #NHSHeros –

Brigade – Brigade is a social enterprise restaurant supporting people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness gain meaning employment. When coronavirus hit, and the restaurant temporarily closed down, current apprentices along with the rest of the Brigade team transformed their operations to provide food for vulnerable people in their local community. In the first three days of operation they provided over 3,500 meals. With social distancing measures now in place, the restaurant no-longer cooks these meals but they are looking to support more people access food over the coming months and have set up a helpline for their apprentices and graduates who are often in extremely vulnerable positions. –

brigade social enterprise uk coronavirus stories

Change Please – Change Please is a social enterprises which trains and employs people experiencing homelessness as baristas. Even though their coffee carts and shops have shut down during the lockdown they have kept on all their trainees and staff and are now supplying free coffee to frontline NHS workers. They’ve set up a stand outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the EXCEL in London, providing much needed coffee to key workers, and are planning to roll this out to a further 8 hospitals across the country. They’ve set up this crowdfunder to make this ambition a reality.

Clear Voice – Clear Voice Interpreting Services offers interpreting and translation services for organisations across different sectors, donating 100% of profits towards supporting victims of displacement and exploitation through its parent charity Migrant Help. The last few months have not been easy for anyone, nor for any business. Clear Voice Interpreting services has navigated the challenges by providing pro-bono translation work, implementing a new video interpreting service and by gaining more customers in the charity sector. Read their story and top tips here

Fat Macy’s – Fat Macy’s are a social enterprise catering company working with young Londoners who are living in temporary accommodation, supporting them to move into their own homes. Whilst the coronavirus crisis is ongoing, they have been working with other social enterprises to put together special hampers to deliver to people in quarantine –

Disability Representation Unit – The Disability Representation Unit, is an advisory and advocacy social enterprise set up to fight for the rights of people with Special Educational Needs and Disability. It  has set up a free text service for families with disabled people to give instant updates on government guidance re COVID-19

Future Directions CIC – Future Directions CIC are an award winning social enterprise delivering social care services across the North of England. They are finding new ways to support the vulnerable adults they look after, many of whom may not understand the restrictions put in place. Their work is driven by the needs of individuals and carers have been running personalised home activities from handicrafts to cooking. They’ve set up a makeshift alter to allow an individual to celebrate Easter, ran an Easter egg competition and used Facebook to bring live music sessions to the people they care for. Find out more in this blog on our site.

Giraffe Healthcare – Glasgow based Giraffe Healthcare provide an online platform for the remote delivery of physiotherapy, allowing physiotherapists to provide personalised exercise programmes to people with clinical conditions. The exercise pages consist of an exercise video, audio and a text description of the exercise. Patient completes an online exercise diary which their physiotherapist reviews and can then change their programme remotely as required. They are offering their platform for free for at least the duration of the coronavirus outbreak, to the NHS, third sector and hospices. More information here.

GLL  – Social enterprise leisure and library provider GLL are supporting local authorities with their civil resilience, converting leisure centres into recovery centres in Cumbria, distributing PPE (plastic overshoes), turning libraries into food distribution hubs in Dudley and Lincolnshire and redeploying librarians to support the Council’s call centre in Wandsworth. They are also providing ‘bricks and mortar’ services such as running children’s centres, which are looking after the children of key workers too. Library outreach programmes run by the social enterprise are also delivering books to the housebound.

Good Wash Company – Welsh social enterprise, The Good Wash, manufacture soap and other luxury beauty products and using all their profits to support projects set up to reduce inequalities and also improve animal welfare. They are now working with volunteers to deliver good wash packages to NHS workers in Wales, handing our over 3000 packages in their first week. They are also providing products to food bank drop offs and local charities. To further involve the community and supporters they have also set up a buy one, give one scheme to help you support heroes in your community –

good wash social enterprise uk coronavirus stories

HomebakedHomebaked bakery is an iconic community owned bakery by Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC. Dedicated to supporting the local area, when the Premier League was suspended, the bakery had to cease trading. During this time however, it still a pillar of the community sending fresh bread to local food banks and providing discounted food to people in need. You can find out more about their situation in the piece in the FT.

London Early Year’s Foundation (LEYF) – LEYF run nurseries using a cross-subsidy model to ensure that childcare is accessible and affordable. They are keeping 18 nurseries open across London to provide childcare for key workers and vulnerable children. They have created activities for parents made to stay at home to help them with childcare, creating video content with new activities being shared three times a week.

LEYF - social enterprise uk coronavirus stories

P3– P3 are a ground-breaking social enterprise which runs a variety of people centred services across the UK. This includes supported accommodation for people who have experienced homelessness and support and recovery services for people who experience mental health difficulties. P3 started preparing for coronavirus in mid-February and by 1 March they had started to move 450 of their members of staff working from home. The onset of the Covid-19 hitting the UK and the subsequent lockdown saw P3 shift the focus of its work to essential services – their 25 hostels working with people who are homeless and young people continue working and they’ve expanded their street outreach services to support more people living in hotels. They are co-ordinating care packages and food deliveries for vulnerable people in the communities they work in, regularly re-evaluating how they operate as circumstances change. They are working with commissioners in local and central government to respond to needs, with contracts being adapted on a basis of trust. This has allowed them to continue to support some of the most vulnerable groups in society at a time when their work has never been more needed.

Renaisi – Renaisi is a social enterprise set up to deliver programmes that help people overcome disadvantage and exclusion. One of these is the RISE programme set up to help refugees and asylum seekers find sustainable employment. When the crisis hit, it quickly became apparent that many of the people RISE worked with were struggling to access food, with some having no recourse to public funds. Case worker Faisal Ahmed brought together different groups across the London boroughs the programme operates in to both source and distribute food to one of the most vulnerable groups in society. This included collaborating with other social enterprises including Bikeworks and Hubbub. You can read more about Faisal’s work in this blog.

Sewing Rooms –  Before coronavirus Skelmersdale based, the Sewing Rooms manufactured curtains, cushions and other bits of furniture donating its profits to support vulnerable people in their community, whilst also offering employment opportunities in their curtain-making workshops. Now shut down for the lock down, the business has now shifted its focus to making masks for local key workers to support those keeping the country going. They have now set up ‘Mask Community’ to manufacture masks for the general public which will help them bring back furloughed staff and continue to support the people they work with. You can contribute to their crowdfunder to scale up production and find out more about the work they do here.

Stand 4 Socks – Stand 4 Socks are a social enterprises using socks to change the world. For every pair you buy another of their specially made antibacterial socks is given to a person who is homeless. They’ve released a special ‘Stand for our Heroes’ sock and each purchase not only provides a pair to someone’s who’s homeless but also donates a pair to health workers on the front-line of the fight against Covid-19. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) only covers up to the ankles and hospitals have reached out to Stand 4 Socks with an urgent call out for socks as hospital staff are having to carry out daily sock washes on site. Buy your pair here.

The Bike Project – The Bike Project is a social enterprise which provides refurbished bikes to refugees. Over the course of the pandemic they are now providing ‘Dr Bike’ virtual bike maintenance sessions to help the public keep their bikes in tip top condition during the lockdown. You can now access a one-to-one online session with one of their pro mechanics who can help with all basic repair and maintenance enquiries. They are also offering free online sessions to all NHS staff who only need to email with a picture of their NHS staff ID front-line workers to be sent a voucher code for a free session. More information here

Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions – Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions are a community interest company run by disabled people for disabled people. Social justice is at the heart of its approach and they exist to help people with disabilities become integral and active members of the communities in which they live. They build services around the needs of individuals offering a range of support from helping people to live independently to employment support. During the pandemic they are continuing to support people with disabilities, sourcing PPE through suppliers including a local special needs school. They are continuing their work in the five houses where they support people to live, with staff being sealed in the home with the people they care for for seven days. They are then replaced by other staff who have also been isolating independently for the same seven day period. They’ve made his 40 second film to explain how it all works. As well as this they are also providing staff to a local authority run care home.