Andy Daly is Head of Corporate Partnerships at Social Enterprise UK

The devastating COVID-19 pandemic has touched almost every aspect of our lives. It is clear that society will look very different post-Coronavirus, and many commentators are predicting the emergence of a new economy. Those who are hopeful of it being a social economy, with community and cooperation at its core, will see many promising signs in the way our country’s social enterprises are adapting to, and helping to shape, ‘the new normal’.

Our research at SEUK regularly shows that social enterprises outperform their private sector peers through higher levels of innovation. Our latest State of Social Enterprise report found that 56% of social enterprises had introduced a new product or service in the previous 12 months, compared with just 36% of mainstream SMEs. This is good news for corporate procurement teams looking to embed innovative, new business models into their supply chains. The current crisis has also prompted many B2B social enterprises to adapt their business model and/or social impact model. Here is our initial line-up of COVID19 B2B innovators – and do get in touch with us at covid19@socialenterprise.org.uk to share more examples.


Connection Crew

Connection Crew is an award-winning crewing company working in the UK and internationally, making sure the setup of any event goes smoothly, safely and successfully. Their 10-week on-the-job training programme is dedicated to people who have experienced homelessness to provide them with a route into employment.

The firm is now developing a new service to corporate clients based on a virtual event platform. This uses VR technology to provide an online experience to replace a physical exhibition stand or conference, giving online attendees the ability to interact with content such as live video streams.

 

Ethical Stationary CIC

Ethical Stationery CIC is a social enterprise specialising in the supply of closed-loop, ecological office products, including cleaning and washroom supplies. They were the first office supply company to go carbon neutral in 2004.

To respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethical Stationery CIC has focused its efforts on providing in-demand products such as PPE supplies, hand sanitiser, cleaning & washroom products. They are providing essential food bags for the many hundreds of homeless people in their South London community. They are also donating gloves and sanitiser to local care homes.


GTS Solutions CIC

GTS Solutions CIC is the only social enterprise to operate in the UK’s private security industry. They offer cyber security training in a number of languages as well as traditional man guarding services. Alongside this, the firm offers a wide range of online compliance courses in areas such as GDPR, fire safety and health and safety.

They have now developed an online Covid-19 Infection Prevention and Control course. The course can be used by businesses to ensure that their staff are fully aware of the steps to take when re-entering the workplace after the Covid-19 Pandemic. It is suited to be compliant with HSE Law and Guidance, and most importantly covers Social Distancing advice.


Inside Job Productions

Inside Job Productions is an award-winning film company. They invest their surplus income in supporting the development of educational media projects and run a Production Assistant Trainee Scheme providing work placement opportunities for young people struggling with their mental health.

They are providing fresh ideas on how to communicate with colleagues and customers during these challenging times, in particular through animations and user-generated content, both of which use creative visual storytelling to help communicate messages in memorable ways.

Meeting Magic

Meeting Magic Ltd is a social enterprise which creates powerful, enduring connection and collaboration in individuals, groups, organisations and communities. They help you get the most from your meetings by facilitating them for you or supporting you to do them effectively yourself.

In response to the current lockdown, Meeting Magic are running online workshops to help teams to work just as well apart as they do together, if not better. These are not sessions aimed at teaching tech tools, but aimed at considering and working with the human dynamics in our virtual work. These workshops are suitable for anyone who is convening and working with groups of people online at the moment, and accessibly priced on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis.


 

MHFA England

MHFA England is a social enterprise offering expert guidance and training to support mental health, in the workplace and beyond. As England’s only licensed provider of the internationally-accredited Mental Health First Aid training programme, the organisation offers a range of evidence-based face to face and digital learning, from awareness raising to skill development.

In response to government guidance around social distancing and working from home, much of MHFA England’s training is now being transferred to a virtual classroom, with their Mental Health Aware and Refresher courses now being delivered online. Attendees are able to achieve the same learning objectives online through a model of interactive, facilitated group learning. The licensed Mental Health First Aid course will also be transferred to the virtual classroom and available from 29th May.  Once completed, learners will receive a certificate qualifying them as a Mental Health First Aider.


 

Rising Stars Property Solutions CIC

Founded in 2013, Rising Stars Property Solutions CIC began by offering a cleaning service. It has now grown to become one of the largest third sector property services companies within the Midlands offering services in construction, gardening, clearance and cleaning. They specialise in biohazard cleanups, deep cleans and waste removals.

Rising Stars are increasing their capacity to meet demand at this crucial time. They use an NHS approved antimicrobial disinfectant that kills enveloped viruses such as COVID-19 and are helping prevent its spread in spaces such as hospitals, schools and vehicles for public transport.


 

Serious Tissues

The world faces serious issues and you can help tackle them by buying your toilet roll from Serious Tissues. This social enterprise set out 12 months ago to fight deforestation and climate change, one 100% recycled loo-roll at a time. For every roll sold, a tree is planted.

Coronavirus caused massive pressure on the NHS and even briefly caused toilet rolls to disappear from shop shelves. Until the crisis is over, Serious Tissues will be donating 100% of profits to the NHS Charities Together Urgent Covid-19 Appeal.