When it comes to supporting social enterprises there are good weeks and bad weeks and very little in-between. Sometimes everything that you do becomes an uphill struggle and the world conspires to make life as difficult as it can possibly be. Everyone wants you at the same time, no-body sends the information that you need and your technology decides that you would be far better operating in the technological environment of 1982!
Then there are the good weeks - thank goodness.
These are the ones were in the immortal words of Hannibal (the one in the A Team not the elephant one) you can say "I love it when a plan comes together"
In the good weeks long-standing ideas come together and at the mere mention of a new collaboration people leap out of the woodwork armed with enthusiasm and resources and immediately grasp the concept and start changing the world.
After several weeks of uphill struggle, last week proved that every poor run will come to an end (unless you are Hull City)
CERT Consultancy has just begun work on a new pilot project with the Key Fund and The Big Lottery on a project designed to help the growth of some reasonably well established social enterprises.
We approached six organisations and found that each had urgent need of assistance and had been looking for specific support without success - bingo! Good start!
We visited each project to get a better understanding of their plans and put together a schedule of work.
Visit one - the community sports facility
As we sat freezing in a huge space, we were told that the heating system had broken down and that it cost an absolute fortune to run. The fear was that the centre would start losing the parties that were helping to grow the business just at the time it was starting to go really well. Plus the outdoor area needed new floodlighting. Oh and could we figure out a way that they could start to develop luncheon clubs for lonely elderly people?
We went away with the shopping list and prepared for a the long haul.
Visit two - The Community Hub (former library).
Deja Vu! - sat in a library in our coats hugging a cup of coffee and doing a very creditable impression of a brass monkey.
This time though the place was swarming with electricians and plumbers.
Turned out that a new green energy system was being installed that would not only alleviate bills but would produce an income for the organisation. Well call me Mr. Inspiration - it took just one call to connect the designer of the system to our sporting club and a site visit took place the same week. A plan is being drawn up right now.
One more call to the Key Fund and an in-principal decision was in place to fund the work with a loan that would mean that the total package cost would be considerably cheaper than the bills being paid for at the moment and after five years energy costs would be virtually zero. Oh and as a bonus, the floodlighting issues could be solved by the same company using LED lights that have the added bonus of not reflecting light back into neighboring housing.
If that wasn't enough, the library needed help to fit out a new extension it was building to meet increased demand for its services. Well we were on a roll - so whilst chatting to the Key Fund we just happened to mention this project as well. Two days later they turned up for a site visit and are now processing a mixed grant and loan application.
I don't know whether these things are luck, divine intervention or just a reward for sticking around in this business for 20 years but I'm grateful that they happen sometimes.
The best thing is that we undertook four more visits and the magic kept coming - more in the next blog.