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Member updates

Social enterprise taking on the climate crisis? – Apply for Impact Hub London’s Shine Program

Impact Hub London is thrilled to announce the return of the Shine Program UK's second edition. We are now accepting applications! Once again, we are teaming up with Swiss Re and our partners at BOOKBRIDGE to incubate resilience in the UK. The Shine Program UK's second edition aims to empower the next generation of social innovators in transforming their ideas and solutions into scalable business models with the potential for maximum social impact. After a successful first edition last year, we are looking to support early-stage entrepreneurs, who are trying to address challenges in the areas of Natural hazard and climate risk management (Climate smart agriculture, Disaster risk reduction,Transformation to net zero – e.g. renewable energy, afforestation, recycling,) and  Access to health (including healthy nutrition). Selected social entrepreneurs will embark on a five-month immersive nurture program. During this journey, they will be closely mentored by Swiss Re experts and receive guidance from seasoned business coaches. Together, they will craft financially viable and scalable business plans that promise tangible social impact. As an added incentive, at the culmination of the Shine Program, the chosen innovator will have the opportunity to secure a financial award of up to GBP 30,000 to fuel their growth. Don't miss this chance to be a part of the Shine Program UK's second edition. To apply, click here.  The application deadline is November 30. For more details, you can also explore our brochure by clicking here.

20 Nov

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1 min

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YMCA homeless accommodation in London secures £8.8m funding from socially-motivated Unity Trust Bank

Thousands of young homeless people in London are to continue to benefit from a new state-of-the-art home following a seven-figure funding package from Unity Trust Bank. YMCA London City and North opened LandAid House, an ambitious 146-bed development in Errol Street, two years ago. With the new building complete, transitioning from development funding to a long-term financial product was the final step required to complete the project.   Thanks to Unity’s expertise and understanding of third sector organisations, a long-term debt solution was created which included a remortgage for the new premises and additional working capital for further housing programmes. Chris East, Director of Community and Enterprise at YMCA London City and North, said: “LandAid House was a £19.4m project started 14 years ago because the old building was no longer suitable for vulnerable young people. We created new ensuite bedrooms with lounges, kitchens and laundry facilities and it’s now a place where young people can get back their dignity and self-respect and experience being truly independent. “LandAid House will impact over 10,000 young people over its lifetime, so it was important that we found the right financial partner. The way this deal was structured secures LandAid House and gives us flexibility for the future and that’s a great place for us to be in. “Unity’s relationship manager Paul Kelly demonstrated a great ability to understand us as a client and a charity and to come up with a solution that met our financial needs and helped drive our vision for growth.“ YMCA London City and North serves seven of the capital’s boroughs with a combined population of 600,000. With pockets of affluent and deprived areas, the charity manages five sites which provide up to 400 bed spaces for young people. Each person referred to the YMCA is assigned a case worker and life skills coaching along with training and education to help them find employment. Paul Kelly, Relationship Manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “The YMCA gives vulnerable and traumatised young people a safe place to live and the chance to rebuild their lives. “Being a Londoner myself, it was particularly rewarding to partner with an organisation that helps so many young people in the capital. “Unity’s mission is to do good through finance, and we are proud to work with organisations whose values are aligned with our own.” Gillian Bowen, Chief Executive YMCA London City and North, said: “The values of Unity resonate with our cause. They have been a consistent, understanding and an efficient partner, providing us with a flexible financial product that allows us to stay focused on our objectives to make life better for young people experiencing homelessness.” Paul Thornhill, Director of Thornhill Capital Ltd which introduced YMCA to Unity, said: "It has been a pleasure working with Paul Kelly and Unity. Paul did a wonderful job and developed a strong rapport with YMCA’s Board and Executive team. “Unity has provided a loan facility with very competitive terms which satisfies the requirements of YMCA London City and North. This is excellent news for all parties involved with this deal.” About Unity Trust Bank Unity Trust Bank is an award-winning, independent, commercial bank that uses banking to improve the lives of UK communities. Living by its principles of banking with integrity, Unity’s purpose is to help create a better society, not simply maximise profits. Operating for almost 40 years, it has supported like-minded organisations that share its values and address social, economic and environmental needs. With offices in Birmingham, Manchester and London, Unity offers a range of banking services, including current accounts, savings accounts and loans. 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 and Facebook, or go to its LinkedIn page.

20 Nov

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3 min

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How Starts with you embeds social impact into everything it does

We are delighted to launch our Social Impact Report for 2022-23 to coincide with Global Social Enterprise Day. Our video report provides a snapshot of our people, partners, and numbers, showcasing how we embed social impact in everything we do, building a kinder, fairer way to do business. Fundamentally Starts with you (SWY) is a Property Service company, with 85% of our income from commercial contracts in property clearance, caretaking, handypersons, and building safety inspection services. But those services are not “an end in themselves” they are the means to support what drives us, our Social Purpose “to create opportunity and empower people to make positive change”. Through commercial trading, we have been able to build a business that champions good employment, fair pay, and responsible business practice, supporting nearly 50 employees, over half in entry-level roles. We are a Real Living Wage and Living Hours employer, and a member of the GM Good Employment Charter. We build good practice into our business model to ensure that our people and customers have access to opportunities and are empowered to make positive change. We create opportunities for people to get into or return to work through our employability support services which have helped 77customers in to work in 2022-23, and direct employment, with 34% of the team recruited from being out of work. We work hard to invest in our team and to provide opportunities for personal growth and progression within the business. As well as building impact into our working practices we invest 100% of our profits in our social purpose, either in gift aid to charity, re-invested in the business, or to support services in the community including money, digital, employment, and energy advice. In 2022-23 the team supported over 1500 customers and delivered financial gains of £633,000, contributing to a total since 2017 of over £2 million saved for local people. We are passionate about growing our business so we can create more opportunities, empower more people, and make even more positive change! If you would like to learn more about SWY, what we can deliver, work for us, or how we make a difference you can contact us on any of our website pages.   startswithyou.org.uk

17 Nov

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2 min

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GLL celebrates 30 years with House of Commons reception

The UK’s foremost charitable leisure & library social enterprise GLL marked its first 30 years with a special celebration at The House of Commons (2 November) attended by an array of industry, sporting and library leaders alongside politicians and Members of the House of Lords. The staff-owned co-operative, which runs over 350 public facilities including swimming pools,  libraries, sports centres and children’s centres under the ‘Better’ brand, welcomed keynote speakers The Rt Hon Lady Glenys Thornton, former GB track and field championSally Gunnell OBE and CILIP Library Champion and broadcaster Bobby Seagull. Each added their support to GLL’s remarkable three decade journey from a small ‘spin out’ in Greenwich to the largest national provider of public libraries and leisure centres in the UK and providers of the UK’s largest independent athlete support programme – operating from Bromley to Belfast, and from Cumbria to Cardiff. GLL sees itself very much at the heart of community health and wellbeing and works to tackle inequality and protect and modernise essential public services. By prioritising expanding accessible public leisure and cultural facilities, GLL (which returns all surpluses to improving local communities) has devised a model that is self-sustaining and truly for public good. The event also saw GLL present its ambitious 5 Year Corporate Plan ‘Creating our Future’ that will deliver £2bn in social value, get 1m more people more active across 5 years, reduce energy use and see a ground-breaking launch of the GLL Literary Foundation. GLL CEO Peter Bundey said: “GLL is a unique organisation, a staff-owned co-op that shows social enterprises can succeed at national scale. “Over 30 years we have expanded our public service offer, bringing measurable benefit to local communities - while keeping facilities open in challenging circumstances. “As the largest player in our sector we have responsibilities to lead the way and our next 30 years will see us do just that, working closely with our partners and clients to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of the nation. “I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been part of our journey.” In addition to celebrating 30 years, the event also marked 15 years of the GLL Sport Foundation (the largest independent athlete support programme in the UK) and 10 years of running public libraries; GLL operates facilities in Bromley, Dudley, Greenwich, Wandsworth and Lincolnshire and has some of the highest borrowing rates in the UK. Long time GLL advocate The Rt Hon Lady Glenys Thornton said: “GLL is a beacon for value –led leisure services and a great supporter of athletics and libraries too.  Happy 30th Birthday GLL.” CILIP Library Champion and broadcaster Bobby Seagull called for more support for libraries: “Libraries are knowledge and the central lynchpin of communities. “We are a nation of readers and we need physical libraries in our communities.” Commenting on her Patronage of the GLL Sport Foundation, former GB track and field championSally Gunnell OBE said: “GLL’s impact has been undeniable - supporting dreams and aspirations, eliminating barriers and acting as a catalyst to release athlete potential. I commend the GSF for its commitment to the future and helping even more people reach greater heights in the world of sport.” GB and Northern Ireland Pentathlon Olympic Gold Medallist Lady Mary Peters DBE also joined the event.  GLL works closely with many sports bodies – including the Mary Peters Trust, SportsAid and Switch The Play Foundation – to widen and deepen athlete support through its GLL Sport Foundation. www.gll.org www.better.org.uk www.gllsportfoundation.org

07 Nov

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3 min

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Can social enterprise revitalise purpose?

By June O’Sullivan, CEO of London Early Years Foundation I have a vested interest in reviewing this book Vitalising Purpose: The Power of the Social Enterprise Difference in Public Services as I wrote a chapter! But really, I was interested to read the 17 essays from people who are running social enterprises or supporting them at a time when so many business leaders are desperate to shout about their social purpose leadership and green credentials. For those who know little about social enterprises, who are interested in it, or doing a business degree and need to learn about it, then this is a great little book. It is short and readable. but explores some of the big economic and social challenges facing society which are being addressed by social enterprises. You can therefore imagine that the book pulls no punches about poverty and its impact on people’s lives.  It summarises some of the hardships, deprivation and health impacts that results from poverty. And in my world of child poverty, this is not an unfamiliar debate. It certainly pushes back at the argument that poverty is driven by the individual. Some of the statistics are pretty stark such as that 4.7 million households are in arrears to at least one household bill at an average of £1600! It is resonant of the view shared by Mohammed Yunus, that poverty is driven by structures and systems. Just to get this into perspective, social enterprises are driven by social justice and deliver a range of public services including health, social care, children’s services, education, homelessness, housing, domestic abuse, public health, leisure, culture, employment, training, transport, criminal justice, working across local, central government and the NHS.  Some are small and local others are very large with a multi-million-pound turnover employing thousands. Collectively they contribute 60 billion pounds to the UK economy.  They remain active in their communities. Despite their size or location, they all demonstrate a flexible, entrepreneurial, fleet of foot, innovative and collaborative approach. Set that against my pet hate, the patronising stereotype of the social sector doing good things but outside the grown-up economy. The cut price, pound shop, second best sector. This view which I think is often shaped by the traditional corporate social responsibility approach appears to reject our ability to trade and forces some social enterprises to be coy about using the word profit dressing it up as surplus. Profit isn’t a dirty word, it what you do with it that matter. Interestingly, eight out of 10 social enterprises have been successful in delivering services and if you look at the big business disasters, they weren't social enterprises but companies like Carillion and ABC. If we compare social enterprises with the top 100 PLCs over a 30-year period, 41% of the top social ventures were likely to survive compared to 33% of the PLC's. The book emphasises the focus of the social enterprise business model which is to create and deliver public and social value underpinned by the concepts of purpose, values, collaboration, integration and the cultivation and stewardship of community partnerships. It challenges the entrenched, dysfunctional focus by commissioners who continue to use a marketised competitive contracting approach with an emphasis on value for money rather than commissioning being designed 100% for the public benefit, despite having the Social Value Act. The darlings of macroeconomics with social purpose, Mariana Mazzucato and Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics add value to the debate that financial value should not be the sole determinant of public policy.   The resulting value for money contracts often provided by extractive corporates are criticised as failing to deliver public benefit because they must prioritise returns to shareholders. They are therefore more liable to keep costs low by reducing quality, suppressing innovation and extracting resources from local areas of public authorities while not actually contributing to public value. For example, in May 2022, an investigation found half of social care operators are owned by private equity firms based offshore; many of which are registered in countries known for their generous tax regimes! In the world of childcare, we're seeing this more and more. This is against a backdrop of 77% of people who think businesses should maximise their profits, but not to the detriment of workers, customers, communities and the environment.  They are very alert to companies’ ability to green washing. Interestingly, the Welsh Government is looking to eliminate the private profit marketplace for looked after children services because there should not be a market for care for children. Not surprising You Gov found that nine in ten members of public were in favour of social enterprises running public services.  I should imagine that number has consolidated given more recent debacles such as the privatisation of the UK’s water, described as an ATM for investors despite the wide condemnation of mismanagement, pouring live sewage into the rivers and raising household water bills by 40%. It makes a mockery of the discussion on impact and maximising social value and the principle that meeting social needs represents the best financial investment. Every book has a Call to Action and this one is no different. Doing things differently won't necessarily be technically difficult but will involve a paradigm shift in thinking. Business can be a force for progressive change especially when corporate, public organisations and social enterprises all learn from each other. The book makes it clear that social leaders must present an alternative business mindset which strengthens the triple bottom line and ensures economic, social and environmental sustainability is at the heart of the service. Find out more about London Early Years Foundation's groundbreaking work here

03 Nov

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4 min

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