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West Northamptonshire Social Enterprise Town (WNSET) launches development fund to support local social entrepreneurs

West Northamptonshire, UK - On March 14th, 2023, West Northamptonshire Social Enterprise Town (WNSET) will be launching a new investment fund aimed at supporting the growth and development of social enterprises in Northampton. The WNSET Social Enterprise Development Fund is funded by Northampton Forward as part of the Town’s Fund and supported by West Northamptonshire Council as a community-driven initiative that aims to provide funding and support for local social entrepreneurs to maximise the impact of the Town’s diverse social enterprise sector.The investment fund is designed to support social enterprises that are making a positive impact on the community and the environment, while also generating income and creating jobs. The fund will provide investment capital to social entrepreneurs to start and grow their social businesses, with a focus on those who are addressing local social and environmental challenges.The WNSET Social Enterprise Development Fund launch event, which will be held at the University of Northampton, Waterside Campus, Learning Hub, will feature presentations by local social entrepreneurs, who will share their experiences and success stories. Attendees will also have the opportunity to network and learn more about the investment fund and the support available for social enterprises in the area.Stephen MacFarlaine, Chair of the West Northamptonshire Social Enterprise Town, said: "We are excited to launch the WNSET Social Enterprise Investment Fund, which will provide much-needed funding and support to social entrepreneurs in the area. Social enterprises have the potential to create real change and improve the lives of people in our community and we are grateful to West Northants Council and Northampton Forward for their commitment and support for the sector. The Town’s Fund provides access to much needed funding to empower local social entrepreneurs and help them achieve their goals." Councillor Daniel Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth at WNC, said: “The Northampton Social Enterprise Development Fund forms an integral part of West Northamptonshire’s ambitious £33 million Towns Fund and Future High Street Fund regeneration programme to transform Northampton Town Centre. “This project enables us to directly support the growth of our thriving social enterprise community who provide diverse and invaluable services for Northampton and beyond. We are delighted to see the launch of this fund and we look forward to seeing the positive contribution it makes to our community.” Martin Mason, managing director of Tricker's and Northampton Forward Board member, added: “We are delighted that as part of this project we’re able celebrate the independent spirit of social enterprises across West Northants and the vital role they play in developing and supporting our local economy. We look forward to working with our partners and businesses to drive this scheme forward.” The WNSET Social Enterprise Development Fund is part of the larger WNSET social enterprise place initiative, which aims to promote and support social enterprises in the West Northamptonshire area. WNSET provides training, mentoring, and access to funding for social entrepreneurs, with a focus on social and environmental impact.For more information about the WNSET Social Enterprise Development Fund and the launch event, please visit the WNSET website or contact wnsetcic@gmail.com.Contact:West Northamptonshire Social Enterprise Townwnsetcic@gmail.com www.wnset.org

27 Mar

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New Allia film shows how modular homes can help address homelessness

Allia, the impact focused social enterprise, has released a short film to share has released a short film to share how supported modular housing communities help people who have been previously homeless or are sleeping rough to rebuild their lives. It features Eamonn Kelly, a resident of one of Allia’s modular home communities in Cambridge talking about how: “Having my own front door, my own shower, my own wardrobe and TV… at one time I couldn’t think of it as a reality because I was on the streets. It’s given me a chance to go back to who I am”. The film, which is available on YouTube and on Allia’s Future Homes webpage, highlights the first two modular housing projects that Allia created in Cambridgeshire. Modular homes are custom built units that are specifically designed to be used on smaller or fixed life sites, keeping them affordable for both the residents and the homeless charities that that manage them. As a result of working on these housing communities, Allia Future Homes now has a specialist team with hands-on experience of siting and project managing modular homes - and can provide expert advice and resources to homeless organisations, faith groups with land, local authorities and partnerships who would like to develop their own. The film also features Reverend Danny Driver, Vicar of Christ the Redeemer Church in Cambridge, which leased the land for Allia’s first modular housing community in 2020. Working closely with Jimmy’s Cambridge, a well-respected homelessness charity which provides intensive personalised support on-site for the residents, the units were built by New Meaning Foundation, a local charitable social enterprise which trains young, disadvantaged and formerly homeless people in modern methods of construction.  Partnerships such as these are key to making these projects successful - and the film shares six steps required to create this kind of community in any location across the country - along with business plans, securing sites and planning, fundraising and managing integrated building contracts, using meanwhile or permanent sites, and on modest footprints making them a feasible addition to existing church, council or community land. Allia’s film is being released the same week that the University of Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) host an online event to share their latest research assessing the impact of these modular home communities, on Thursday 16th March at 2pm, focusing on those in Cambridge. People interested in attending can register at www.eventbrite.com/e/modular-homes-discussion-event-tickets-541183663907. Earlier research by CCHPR showed real benefits for the residents of such communities, stating: “The evidence suggests that providing modular homes in tandem with robust support services has the potential to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness” and that “Modular homes are a cost-effective and flexible stepping-stone that help rough sleepers in desperate situations transition into permanent homes and settled lives.” Allia Future Homes Manager Lewis Herbert said: “Our team are here to help potential modular communities every step of the way, including how to secure funding, like the national £200m Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme working with their local councils. We are sharing our experience and expertise of what works to give as many former rough sleepers access a quality home of their own. We want to help double the 20 similar communities being built across the country, essential extra provision if we are to fulfil the objective that UK Government has set of near zero rough sleeping by the end of 2024. Residents in new modular communities support each other, as well as re-establishing family connections, developing new skills and beginning the journey back to work.” Lewis was previously Leader of Cambridge City Council from 2014 to 2021, where he secured £70m for the building of over 500 new council homes and to fund three more modular housing communities for former rough sleepers and homeless people in Cambridge.

10 Mar

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Impact ventures celebrate prize fund share at DIF Allia Accelerator Challenge demo day

Three social enterprise start-ups are celebrating the successful completion of the DIF Allia Accelerator Challenge at a demo day, which concluded with a share out of a £30,000 prize fund. For the last six months, the ventures have worked with teams from DIF Capital Partners, who have given bespoke mentoring and coaching to help them develop and grow their businesses. At the recent demo day, each start-up had a chance to pitch their venture to an audience from DIF Capital Partners and Allia, explaining how they felt they’d progressed their business over the course of the challenge, and what they hope the future holds for them. The winning venture, Paige Braille, which focuses on making multiline braille display more affordable to the blind, was delighted to accept the top prize of £15,000 - and plan to use the funds to bring their working prototype into market launch. The two runners up, InCommon Foundation, a social enterprise connecting young people with their older neighbours in London via community programmes and Lylo Product, which focuses on developing a portable washing machine that uses waste shower water to promote water efficiency, were awarded £7,500 each. The three ventures were: Paige: the world’s first low-cost, multi-line braille display. Existing braille displays are limited to a single line of text. This makes them unsuited to subjects which require context or a spatial layout, such as STEM, music, tables, and graphs. They are also incredibly expensive, costing between £500 and £9,000. By lowering the cost per braille character, Paige has been designed to tackle both of these problems and transform braille literacy and education worldwide. Lylo Products: promoting water efficiency by finding innovative ways to reuse water. Lylo’s product collects water when you shower, and then reuses it for laundry washing, using less water, as well as saving 90% of the energy typically used to heat it than an average washing machine. InCommon Foundation: a social enterprise that brings generations together, through delivering intergenerational programmes, mainly working with schools and retirement homes in 3 ways: primary school Connect programmes, social action programmes and resources. Jason Loo who was one of the DIF mentors, was very positive about the experience of taking part. He commented: “The Accelerator Challenge is an amazing way for me to volunteer my time effectively by applying my relevant skillsets in helping ventures make a difference in people’s lives. I see tangible impact in what we do and have continued to be inspired by the passion, drive and commitment of venture founders. We have learnt from them as much as they have learnt from us. I am proud to be part of yet another successful accelerator programme.” Andrew Brisbin, Director of Ventures at Allia said: “Really grateful to the team at DIF for building up three social impact businesses with their skills and knowledge. We need great examples like the DIF team to show others that there are meaningful ways that professionals can engage with impact businesses to accelerate significant positive change. Every action taken with intentionality can contribute to a positive ripple effect in society.” Gregory Hargraves from winning venture, Paige, added: “Paige has greatly benefited from being part of the DIF Accelerator Challenge, and winning this prize brings us one step closer to our goal of reducing the barriers to braille worldwide. The funding received is a huge boost on top of the support we have received from the DIF team. We strongly believe that braille is essential for literacy, and we are dedicated to making it accessible at an affordable price to people around the world. Throughout the Accelerator, the DIF team has dedicated their time and expertise to support our mission. With the funding, we can complete the CE marking process for our first product, Paige Connect, and continue to work closely with braille readers. We would also like to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding work of Lylo Products Limited and InCommon." This was the second Accelerator Challenge that Allia worked with DIF on. It has also recently concluded an Accelerator Challenge with BRAN Investments, which offered mentoring and coaching to eight impact start-ups, with an investment of up to £100,000 available for successful ventures after the pitch day. If you have interest in getting involved in an Accelerator Challenge, please email our venture support team on hello@allia.org.uk and find out more.

10 Mar

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Healthy Living Platform starts Crowdfunder to support new community café project in Myatts Fields

Lambeth community food charity- Healthy Living Platform- is looking to take on the running of the community café in Myatts Fields North Community Centre. The café space has been empty since December and Healthy Living Platform believes they are best-placed to take over the space and run the facilities for the benefit of the whole community. Healthy Living Platform plans to run the café as a social business, creating connections across the local community and supporting a range of different causes. The charity plans are for the café to provide community support such as: Low-cost after-school food for families on free school meals   Food markets supporting local suppliers   Volunteering and work experience for local young people  Employment opportunities for residents   Food Ambassador Training – a bespoke community cooking course that supports a wide-range of Lambeth residents to get Food Hygiene Level 2 and into employment. The Crowdfunder launched at the beginning of March 2023 and will run until the charity has raised at least £25,000 to support the start-up of the café. The £25,000 will support the initial café setup costs including: refurbishment of the space salary costs for local staff for the first 3 months buying food to cook delicious, healthy dishes Everyone who donates will be rewarded with a foodie-offer such as a free coffee at the café or an invite to a healthy lunch. Healthy Living Platform also plans to run a number of Supper Clubs at the café space on weekday evenings, as part of its fundraising for the space, and will provide more details soon. Tickets will be priced at £15 and each week would have a different theme around food or cultural celebrations. Healthy Living Platform already runs several food projects out of the Myatts Field North space, including: Community Food Pantry – staffed by a team of local volunteers and visited by over 50 residents a week. The pantry offers low-cost food, including a choice of up to 10 fruit and vegetables with set prices from £2.50-£5 Low-cost Tuesday Lunch Club – with support from Lambeth Council, a pay-what-you-can healthy lunch offered to all the community – currently supporting 40 people a week with food and takeaway options. Workshops for families from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds – learning to cook on a large-scale, cook healthy meals on a budget using limited cooking equipment and with give-aways including air-fryers and slow cookers. Holiday Activities and Food – Healthy Living Platform is working with Pinnacle Housing and Protouch to deliver healthy cooked lunches and food activities for children on Free School Meals for 8 days during the Easter holidays. ************************************* Quote from Sam Mason – Pinnacle Housing Association  ‘Staffed by excellent local volunteers and backed up by expert staff, the pantry not only supports our community to access high-quality, low-cost food on their doorstep, but also gives us a centre of gravity around which to shape our community offer. It’s now hard to imagine the centre without them and we’re looking forward to expanding our activities with HLP in the coming months.’ Quote from local residents at Myatts Field North ‘Amazing community service - You get tea coffee and a nice warm place to sit and wait’ ‘There are very hardworking staff they are very kind, helpful and welcoming’ ‘It encouraged me to eat healthy. And the vegetables and fruits are fresh. It is very helpful to us’ 7 March 2023 For more info: www.healthylivingplatform.org Instagram: @living_platform Helen – Strategic Development helen.wiggins@healthylivingplatform.org Or email: contactus@healthylivingplatform.org

07 Mar

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How two social enterprises joined forces to create a complete ethical events package

Two Midlands-based social enterprises have joined forces with a stunning countryside venue to offer a complete ethical events package which is good for the planet. The team at ChangeKitchen CIC craft innovative ethical menus, specialising in vegetarian, vegan and special diet options, while providing work opportunities for people who face social exclusion. That vision is shared by Jubilee Events, who employ those with multiple barriers to work as part of their marquee hire team and also offer event management services. When paired with the exclusive Meynell Langley estate, it results in bespoke, socially-responsible events for both corporate and private customers. The partnership began when Derby University contacted founder and managing director of Jubilee Events, Matt Parfitt to celebrate DE-Carbonise – a three year collaboration between the University of Derby, Derby City and Derbyshire County Council. Matt then approached director and founder of ChangeKitchen, Dr Birgit Kehrer. Here’s how the partnership developed in their own words: "Jubilee Events was approached by a university who wanted to hold a special celebration event to mark the end of some environmental research. The brief was simple: you have a great venue and a fantastic marquee - can you find us an excellent, social, 100% vegan/vegetarian caterer? My first and only thought was ChangeKitchen. And after the first canapes at the tasting event the client was licking their lips (literally!)" - Matt Parfitt, Founder & Managing Director, Jubilee Events. “As working as environmentally sustainably as possible has been part of our founding principles, we loved it when Matt from Jubilee Events got in touch to cater for an event for Derby University and City to celebrate the DE-Carbonise collaboration.We were even more delighted that the event took part at the beautiful Meynell Llangley Hall near Ashbourne, which is run in a climate friendly way, too. It feels there is so much synergy between the 3 organisations, we really hope to be delivering many more events together in this partnership.” – Dr Birgit Kehrer, Director and Founder of ChangeKitchen. Here's how the partnership with Meynell Langley estate works: Both social enterprises are dedicated to breaking down barriers to the labour market. Jubilee Events is one of two social enterprises set up by Matt Parfitt which are both owned by parent charity – Grace Enterprises, the other being award winning cleaning social enterprise Radiant Cleaners. Both Jubilee Events and Radiant Cleaners have a mission to transform lives through supportive employment offering holistic support to the people they employ from mentoring and coaching to regular reviews. In one season of trading, Jubilee Events have ten Living Wage jobs and run 20 events: ChangeKitchen are an award winning green, climate friendly caterer which began trading in 2010. Its focus is also on employment, supporting people furthest from the labour market, but during the COVID pandemic they also branched out to supporting people in need with healthy meals cooked from surplus. So far they have cooked and delivered over 70,000 meals and are in the end phase of a kitchen expansion that will help them at least double their positive social and environmental impact within a year. You can find out more about ChangeKitchen’s work creating opportunities and tackling the ongoing crisis of food insecurity in this short video: jubileeevents.co.uk changekitchen.co.uk

01 Mar

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Step by Step for Sustainability: LEYF’s pioneering sustainability journey

London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) Invites Children, Parents and all Early Years Settings to Join Them on their Pioneering Sustainability Journey with the Publication of its Unique Strategy. LEYF has launched its very first Sustainability Strategy which sets out its ‘Green LEYF’ approach to become a sector-leading sustainability organisation, working in partnership with the Early Years and Schools to lead and amplify best practice whilst preparing children to undertake their roles and responsibilities as dutiful global citizens. As LEYF celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2023 plus its Planet Mark Award for employee engagement and its ongoing carbon footprint measurement as an organisation, the social enterprise organisation is naming 2023 as its Year of Sustainability – with a call for all Early Years settings across the UK to put sustainability at its core. Framed within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the United Nations (2015) which are underpinned by the three pillars of sustainability: economic prosperity, social equity and environmental integrity, LEYF’s approach to sustainability is based on its duty to do its bit to give our children the education needed to become rounded global citizens of the future. Sustainability is often focused on environmental issues through climate change issues but it is also critical to how we shape businesses, lead with a social purpose and address unfairness and environmental damage that comes through our current market economy. LEYF demonstrates how a social enterprise can operate an effective business model which allows us to subsidise up to 35% of places to children from more disadvantaged communities who benefit enormously from high quality Early Years education. When LEYF first started to define what was meant by sustainability nearly ten years ago, it sought the support of all the staff. LEYF believes that change needs be championed at every level of an organisation if it is to be fully embraced. The result was a very collaborative approach with engagement from the grassroots right through our governance, pedagogy and operations. LEYF continues to build this into a sustainability community of practice and hope people will join the journey. LEYF initially began looking at ‘little wins’ that would have a big effect such as removing single-use plastics where possible, changing all milk deliveries to glass bottles so they could be reused and recycled, banning glitter and placing wormeries and composters in every nursery garden to help reduce food waste. From that promising beginning, an organisation-wide approach was developed that mapped LEYF’s steps to complete the ISO 14001 and achieve the Planet Mark which provided the framework to plan a strategy that included our governance, operations, procurement and practice. To help educate staff, LEYF also developed and introduced the first Level 4 Cache endorsed qualification - Developing Sustainability in the Early Years and supported this with two books: one on social leadership and the other providing ideas for sustainability in a nursery. All this groundwork helped us make decisions through a stronger sustainable lens  and build a strong strategy. Furthermore, sustainability has been embedded into every element of the organisation including the governance, pedagogy and operations along with an understanding that motivates and empowers children, colleagues and parents. June O’Sullivan, CEO of LEYF says: “Sustainability is finally moving to the centre of political and public agenda, especially as we face huge global issues including growing poverty, inequity in education, environmental degradation and much more. Sustainability needs to be led from the top and engage everyone in the organisation. It needs a holistic strategy if it is to work.  Everyone needs to play their part including the children. People think children don’t understand about sustainability, but they do and they are interested. Our job is to prepare them to undertake their roles and responsibilities as global citizens of the future.” The 8 principles below that are underlying LEYF’s approach to sustainability stem from Permaculture–Permaculture which is a way of creating practical sustainable and self-sufficient ways of living – including principles that align with a holistic approach that can be altered to different scales. leyf.org.uk

20 Feb

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