It's like buses - nothing for hours then three come at once. It's been a bit like that at CERT.
After years of very little funding to support social enterprise development, all of a sudden everyone wants to help.
Recently, we got the good news that the Players of the Peoples Postcode Lottery and also the Connect Fund were keen to develop the social economy in the Humber and surrounding areas, and asked CERT to put together a project that they have now funded.
We have proposed that in order to get things moving we need:
Specific business support for start-up and established social enterprises
Guidance for charities and V.C.S. organisations exploring trading as a route to sustainability
A social enterprise network where people can get together and swap ideas and find out what's happening in the social enterprise world
Specialist training and workshops
A resource library
We now have the funding in place for 12 months and have started work.
What has happened so far
We have already worked with more than a dozen organisations offering advice and support and are looking forward to helping them to develop new products and services and gain investment.
We held our first network event in November and 30 organisations came to Barton to hear how one local enterprise has developed a property portfolio of over 170 houses that produces substantial sustainable income. We also heard from the Growth Hub who outlined the help available to social enterprises from the mainstream business support network.
There was lots of networking and I know of two potential collaborations between organisations that have happened as a result of the event.
Training and workshops
We have held a "lunchtime briefing" on Community Share and in an hour was able to show people how Community Shares can be used to raise money and improve communities, how to structure a share offer and sources of help and guidance for people interested in going down this route
We also delivered a Masterclass on Social Return on Investment which was so popular that we had to have a waiting list! The free full day workshop helped organisations to understand the theories behind Social Return on Investment, how to capture, manage and put financial proxies to social value.
We have also opened a resource library of information and resources for social enterprises and are populating it with information on an on-going basis. This is available at https://trello.com/b/nn5MqoZy/social-enterprise-humber
Where you come in
We only have a year to make all of this successful and sustainable, and we think that the only way that that is going to happen is if the network meets your specific needs.
We want to know what you would like to see the network deliver, what sort of training and workshop content you would like to see and we would really appreciate you sharing materials, case studies etc. with us so that we can develop the resource library into a really useful area for organisations in the area.
Finally we would welcome your thoughts on how we might sustain the network in the future.
We don't expect you to do the job for us and we know that your time is precious so we have put together a short survey (5 minutes max) to gather your views. Please have a look and answer as much as you feel able to - all opinions are important and even if you only want to comment on one are, that's fine.
Social Enterprise Humber Survey.
We are happy to talk to you about anything to do with the network and the best place to start the conversation is by Email