Tag: Social Enterprise

Youth EDP Stories: Young Somerset

EDP Grantee Young Somerset

Talented young people in Somerset given opportunity to shine with an enterprising organisation that’s going from strength to strength.

When thinking of Taunton; history, its castle and county cricket might spring to mind, but tucked away in the independent quarter of this town is a special place, founded by the largest youth organisation in the county, Young Somerset (YS).

On a dry, early spring day, Social Investment Business, and one of our sector partners on the Enterprise Development Programme (EDP), The Centre for Youth Impact, were invited to spend the day with YS at Bold & Brave (B&B), their recently establish community shop and hub, with the aim of understanding how EDP has made a difference to their business and the lives of those they support.

EDP is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. It aims to support organisations build financial resilience and impact, by providing a mixture of grant and learning support, to help ideas off the ground or increase trading income for more established projects.

Formed 25 years ago, YS successfully applied for a place on EDP, to support them increase their trading income, future-proof their operations and support more young people.

About Bold & Brave and Young Somerset

B&B’s shop and meeting space aims to bring young people and the community together. It’s described as a community hub that gives young people the opportunity to research, design, ethnically produce, showcase, and sell their own quality products.

Nik Harwood is CEO of YS and supports operations at B&B. YS’s mission puts young people first with everything they do, and it’s achieved in various ways including targeted youth work and providing emotional wellbeing and mental health support.  

How would YS describe the support they’ve received through EDP?

 “I cannot speak highly enough of the programme. It was an amazing opportunity to have the ability to engage with other CEOs” says Nik. “Knowledge, experience, concerns, fears, questions were all there. What (EDP) did quickly was create an astonishing safe space, that became very creative and innovative. We had (a cohort) of commonalty and ideas”.

It gave Nik an opportunity to share his own experience with others “(It was great) to offer my thinking into someone’s project in Hull and for someone in Kent (to tell me) in Somerset you can do this. It created a network that was interactive right the way through”.

Why should someone apply to EDP?

“Go for it and don’t hesitate. I cannot recommend (EDP) highly enough. Working together and collaboratively in a constructively, critical, dynamic way was amazing. The facilitation and support materials were superb, along with the guest speakers, other social entrepreneurs and people who know enterprise inside out and have been doing it for years. We had someone (on our cohort) from a marketing background and what he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. Having (that person) in a room for 4 hours, wow mind blowing stuff, so the quality is the highest. If you are on the cusp of, should I/shouldn’t I apply, then just do it!”.

Back at B&B, we spoke to several young people about how B&B has made a difference. Many people B&B support lack confidence, experience mental health issues and told us how they found the organisation inspiring and a safe space. Young people sell a variety of products, including jewellery, greeting cards and artwork in the shop and anything sold, the maker receives commission as well as recognition. B&B also provides other opportunities to young people. We met Chloe who is going to teach art tuition classes with like-minded young people. She has sold over 300 pieces of artwork across 15 countries and hopes to be able to inspire other budding young artists.

We also met 24-year-old Callum, who is now B&B’s Assistant Shop Manager and in the last 8 months has transformed his life.

“Before I came to B&B I was out of work for 5 years, suffered from anxiety and depression, cared for my mother and rarely came out of the house”. Thanks to the Kickstart Scheme, Callum was given an opportunity to help in an IT/retail role there. “I really enjoyed helping to set up the shop and dealing with suppliers” and he is adamant B&B has made a difference to him “I’ve come along way and the shop has been an essential part of my development as a person and my skills. All the people (here) are great, and everyone supports each other”. Callum has gained a level 3 diploma in retail skills and aims to help and empower other young people. “I am confident, I can now do things, I just needed to be told I could do it”.

How to Apply

For full details on how to apply and application windows see the Youth page.

Environment EDP Stories: Forest of Hearts

EDP Grantee Forest of Hearts


Forest of Hearts is a registered charity which creates ‘gardens for good’ to improve wellbeing, boost biodiversity and enhance employability. They are based in Stratford- Upon-Avon with different sites across Warwickshire. We visited Carole Longden, the CEO of Forest of Hearts to talk about the journey of the charity through the Enterprise Development Programme.

Established 7 years ago, Forest of Hearts first started with a 5-acre field that they acquired to preserve the field as a natural space and support biodiversity in the area. Their mission to preserve natural spaces led into their work with gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon Hospital and subsequently another two NHS hospitals: Leamington-spa and Warwick. To carry out these activities they have a team of highly committed volunteers who the charity endeavours to upskill for future employment.  Forest of Hearts currently operate a range of projects alongside land and garden management.

This includes a contract with Warwickshire council to create the Warwickshire Living Walls project which ultimately has the goal to have 100 linear of living walls. Carole recognised that the main obstacle with living walls was not the space to install them but rather the high level of maintenance they require. As a result, Forest of Hearts has been experimenting with different materials, plants, and irrigation systems to assess the best living wall installation system with the lowest maintenance.

Another exciting project on the horizon for Forest of Hearts is the Dell Forest Garden with Royal Shakespeare Company.  The project will culminate in a full garden installation garden alongside live art installations from local artists such as Faye Claridge and live music for Shakespeare’s birthday.

Why did joining the EDP appeal to them?

Forest of Hearts were keen to access the training and peer-to peer experience that would allow them to focus their organisational structure. The programme has allowed them to modulate aspects of their charity such as tree planting into packages that are able to generate income for their work. The grant support also incentivised them to apply, allowing them to increase staff who have developed aspects that they were under resourced to focus on before such as social media. It has also given Carole space to be able to focus on other areas of the business and delegate tasks to other members of the team.

Peer-to-peer cohort style of the programme

Carole saw the value for Forest of Hearts as an organisation to be part of a peer group to share their knowledge with others working in environment focused charities and social enterprises. In particular sharing insight into building partnerships with local councils and NHS organisations to create a mutually beneficial arrangement which would also include financial support. Thinking long-term, they would like to explore the possibility of forming a coalition with some of their cohort peers with the aim of generating support behind a research study.

What development insight have they gained from the programme so far?

The EDP programme has led to Forest of Hearts increasing their enterprise capacity, specifically, the development of their corporate package offerings. The charity now offers a fully bespoke service to corporate clients offering a range of activities from a full work away day programme to a tree planting one- off activity. They have already seen great success with companies interested in tree planting, with companies offering to match fund the costs involved. Carole has endeavored to ensure that there is feasibility for Forest of Hearts to provide activities both outdoor and indoor.

Carole has also seen potential to expand this into corporate social responsibility report analysis, provided consulting advice on how to get words from these pages into a commitment.

How to Apply

The EDP Environment is open for round one applications on Tuesday 19th April 2022 at 10am.

For full details on how to apply and application windows see the Environment page.

Voluntary Action Leicester Conference: 12 May (Postponed due to COVID-19)

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

We regret to announce that we are postponing the Enterprise Development Conference on 12 May due to COVID-19.

This is due to government advice and suggested control measures regarding COVID-19. As the event would have brought together more than 100 people, we felt it best to postpone the event for now. 

Many thanks for your understanding and apologies for the inconvenience. We will be in touch with details on the future date in due course (most probably September or October). If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Hetal Jani (hetal.jani@access-si.org.uk).

When: Tuesday 12 May

Time: 10.00 – 16.00

Where: Voluntary Action Leicester – 9 Newarke St, Leicester LE1 5SN

Join us for a one-day Enterprise Development conference on Tuesday 12 May 2020 at Voluntary Action Leicester to co-learn alongside other charities and social enterprises about enterprise development! 

Are you a charity or social enterprise looking to become more business-like or enterprising? Do you recognise the importance of enterprise development and find yourself armed with an enterprising idea but need help to move it forward? If you are interested in transitioning towards enterprise activity, or are currently in the process of transitioning and are keen to share knowledge and experience, then we would love to see you there!

Building on the success of the pilot year of our Enterprise Development Programme, Access – the Foundation for Social Investment is organising this Enterprise Development conference as a way to build capacity, confidence and collaboration across multiple charitable sectors to openly discuss and learn about enterprise development, and – most importantly – its role in building the financial autonomy and resilience of the sector. The Enterprise Development Programme is currently open to organisations in the Youth, Homelessness, Equality and Mental Health sectors.

What you can expect on the day:

  • Hear from charity and social enterprise leaders who have been successfully trading;
  • Learn about aims of the Enterprise Development Programme and how it has supported our existing Youth and Homelessness cohorts and – more importantly – how it could benefit your organisation; 
  • Dynamic mix of presentations, workshops, panel discussions and peer-learning discussions;
  • Extensive networking opportunities with fellow civil society organisations, enterprise development organisations and funders; 
  • A safe and non-judgmental space in which to ask difficult questions
  • Opportunity to learn about other opportunities offered by Access- the Foundation for Social Investment.

This FREE event is offered to all charities and social enterprises working in England. 

The Enterprise Development Programme returns: what’s different?

teens at a youth club playing table tennis

By Deborah Smart – Head of Grants at Social Investment Business

One year on from the pilot phase of the Enterprise Development Programme, Deborah Smart – Head of Grants at Social Investment Business – reflects on the growing #EnterpriseMovement, and shares what makes the next phase of the programme different.

Back in September 2018, the Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) launched with a year-long pilot to support charities and social enterprises working in the Youth and Homelessness sector. Following its success, Access have committed to expanding this programme, and will be extending the involvement of the Youth and Homelessness sectors until 2021, and also welcoming the Mental Health and Equality sectors onboard. Further sectors will be added each year and the programme will run until at least 2024.

So, what else has changed about the next phase of EDP? Here’s a summary of key things we learned, and how those learnings are going to inform the next phase of the programme:

  1.  Partnership

By working closely with our sector partners, we were able to ensure that sector needs were at the forefront of the support offered from EDP. We are working even more closely with our partners going forward. Partnership is crucial for us at SIB because it allows us to call upon the expert views of partners when a given fund or grant programme calls for it, ultimately with the aim of providing a better service for the organisations who need it

2. Flexibility

In moving forward with EDP, we wanted to make sure that the next phase of the programme was flexible enough to respond to the needs of the organisations we’re supporting. We have structured a programme in such a way that we can help the cohort find out what they don’t know, rather than test them on it. So, with that in mind, we’ve changed the programme so that what we’re initially assessing is whether organisations in the cohort have an enterprising mindset. What we mean by ‘enterprising mindset’ all boils down to forward planning: the EDP grant should free up time for organisations to think more strategically and be more entrepreneurial – to think beyond the EDP grant about the ways they can diversify their income streams.

You can read about how the Homeless Link EDP Year 1 cohort put their enterprising mindset to good use here. The most important thing in applying in this phase of the programme is the desire to be enterprising and develop trading.  Ideas can either be early stage or more developed.

Once the ‘enterprising mindset’ element of the assessment is complete by each sector partner, the programme is then structured for us to be able to provide different types of support depending on what stage your enterprising idea is at. If you’re looking for advice on applying for a fund and aren’t sure where to start, check out our tips.

3. Learning and responding

As the programme restarts, all of the EDP partners will continually be learning from and listening to the cohort and adapting to their needs. Here at SIB, one of our strategic priorities is putting our customer at the heart of everything we do – listening and responding to their needs is the best way of making that happen.  We will be gathering feedback from the organisations we work with throughout the programme to help us with this, and we will also look at how we can share this widely as well.

At Social Investment Business, our strategy is all about how we strengthen and build organisation’s resilience through providing the right finance and support to help them thrive. We are also committed to working in collaboration and partnership, and are therefore delighted to be expanding and extending our partnership with Access on EDP. We’re excited to be supporting and strengthening the enterprise activity of our first EDP cohort and beyond.

<< If you’re interested in finding out more about the funds, programmes and support Social Investment Business offer, visit here. >>

Catching up with the Cohort: 18 months of the Enterprise Development Programme

Unrealistically clean soup kitchen full of models

“A few weeks into 2019, we got a call, and you could tell straight away that it was a ‘good news’ call – we had been successful in our application to the Enterprise Development Programme.”

Camille De Groot – Director of Development at Streetwise Opera

By Murphy Hopkins-Hubbard (Enterprise Development Manager at Homeless Link)

As you may have heard over the last 18 months, Access – The Foundation for Social Investment have embarked on a multi-million-pound commitment to supporting charities to become more financially resilient through diversifying their income and developing trading models. Homeless Link was chosen as the sector partner for the Homelessness sector, meeting with and supporting numerous organisations to grow and develop their enterprise ideas. Applications varied from small volunteer-led night shelters, to large and well-established charities to social entrepreneurs new to the social sector but looking to make a difference.

My role as the Enterprise Development Manager offers a unique opportunity to travel up and down the country to meet with extraordinary organisational leaders who are committed to making their vital services, that support people experiencing homelessness, more sustainable. To be part of a programme like Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) is so exciting, empowering organisations to identify potential enterprise ideas and help them access the right training, networks and support to elevate these ideas into a reality.

One of our key learnings from the pilot year was in the variety of revenue models our members were looking at. “The first round of EDP revealed that organisations in the homelessness sector have a far wider range of enterprise options and assets than many trustees and frontline staff expected,” says Kevin Davey – Senior Consultant at Eastside Primetimers.The partnership, with support from other sector professionals, identified 17 different revenue models used within the social sector. With this knowledge we have been able to create peer networks for support and shared learning, develop an understanding of the challenges and benefits of different models and identify the potential training needs of organisations looking to adopt each model. We wanted to share some examples with you.

One example is of Spires. Spires help people who are homeless or have insecure accommodation, who are also facing complex issues like long-term unemployment, poor mental/physical health, addiction/substance misuse, or are imprisoned by sex work. Following interest from service users they looked for consultation support to develop some training and employment opportunities within horticulture through setting up a gardening offering.

YMCA Bedford were involved in both stages of grant funding to support the opening of their shop where they provide training and upskilling as well as broaden their income. We’ve been keeping updated both online and in person with their new 4mation shop selling (gorgeous) upcycled furniture. Click here to find out more about their experience with EDP.

Streetwise Opera are another of the successful EDP applicants:

A few weeks into 2019, we got a call, and you could tell straight away that it was a ‘good news’ call – we had been successful in our application to the Enterprise Development Programme.”

Camille De Groot – Director of Development at Streetwise Opera. Read more about their experiences.

The EDP is not about suggesting enterprise as the only option to the social sector but more about providing the information, support and insight into developing trading activities as a viable option for organisations looking to become more self-sustaining in a time where funds are scarce. As emphasis moves towards social investment, developing trading models is growing in popularity and this programme enables organisations to do it with a deeper understanding and access to support.

For some organisations, such as Providence Row, the ideas were all there and trading had previously begun but they sought further support from the Enterprise Development Programme to grow their Bakery – Rise. We asked them how things are going:

 “Rise bakery is going from strength to strength with plans to develop a brand-new purpose-built bakery for early 2020. This will not only boost our brownie production, but also our training capacity. We’re so excited about what 2020 holds.”

Aurelie Leonard, Marketing and Communications Manager at Providence Row. Read more.

This initiative adopts a collaborative approach by bringing together various partners with different expertise to the table with the aim of creating a programme that is flexible and informed enough to best support the social sector to take on trading activities. The partnerships consist of key representatives from each of the four sector partners; Homeless Link, Centre for Youth Impact, Equally Ours and the Association of Mental Health Providers. Access have also sought expertise from other valued partners too, such as Social Investment Business (SIB) for their expertise in managing grant programmes and their skills in providing a smooth customer journey, Transformational Index (TI Group) to support on the partners learning and impact measurement and analysis throughout the programme and the School of Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) to support the learning and training of the social sector. We have also worked alongside other consultancy services to support in business planning options appraisals for some of our grantees at feasibility stage. I caught up with Kevin Davey, senior consultant at Eastside Prime Timers to get his perspective:

 “During 2019 a significant number of ideas have been transformed from vague concepts or ambitions that were going nowhere to deliverable businesses which will generate new income and raise the social impact of providers.” 

Click here to read more from Kevin Davey of Eastside Primetimers.

Homeless Link have built and sustained relationships across the pilot year cohort and are excited by the progress they are making – watch this space! We are pleased to remain in close contact with existing EDP applicants and will continue to share the learning across the sector.

If you are thinking of venturing into the #EnterpriseMovement or are looking to scale an existing idea, please get in touch with murphy.hopkins-hubbard@homelesslink.org.uk to find out more about the launch of the second year of the Enterprise Development Programme.

<< Originally published by Homeless Link on 9/12/19: https://www.homeless.org.uk/connect/blogs/2019/dec/09/catching-up-with-cohort-18-months-of-enterprise-development-programme >>

The Enterprise Movement – a collaborative network of learning

By Murphy Hopkins-Hubbard (Enterprise Development Manager at Homeless Link)

Over the last year Homeless Link has worked with and spoken to nearly 100 organisations developing social enterprises within the homelessness sector through our Enterprise Development Programme, some of whom accessed the learning programme delivered by the School of Social Entrepreneurs. 

We have seen some exciting successes and impact, including the positive effect enterprise development has had on the skill set existing within these organisations and how it can enhance the overall running of them.

For many of our members looking to explore social enterprise, they are solely responsible, and while this can offer creative freedom, it can also hinder opportunities to discuss ideas, ask questions and think collaboratively. The Enterprise Development Programme, funded by Access, provides the chance to seek out learning opportunities through the sector, enabling applicants to engage with a network of peers in similar positions who can offer advice from their own challenges, past mistakes and successes.

Claire, CEO of Emmaus Suffolk, shares how her experience of being connected into a peer network aided her in this transition:

“Evolving a social enterprise so that it makes money, makes a difference and makes sense is quite the challenge. You cannot do this alone. We will all approach the why from a different perspective, depending on the tools we have and what issues we have in front of us. The how is the challenge. The luxury of spending time with other like-minded individuals, all dedicated to making a positive change in the same sector, learning from each other’s experience of how to be effective, efficient and make it work, is an inexplicable treat. 

“Sharing knowledge, experience and expertise in a safe arena for those ‘idiot’ questions we all need to ask, has fundamentally helped me develop and therefore benefited my organisation. If you get the opportunity to get involved with EDP Learning grab it with both hands and jump right in!”

Like Claire, many of our members exploring the #EnterpriseMovement are benefiting from joining the Enterprise Development Programme to gain access to a collaborative cohort of like-minded organisations looking to navigate an unfamiliar commercial offering.

“Social enterprise is such a diverse endeavour that it’s always valuable, if not essential, to keep talking to others in the trade” – Glenn, CEO and Founder of Phases. Glenn was also involved in the Enterprise Development Programme in its pilot year and was awarded a feasibility grant as well as access to a network of support.

“At Phases we are piloting a recruitment agency-type model for homeless people seeking to enter the construction industry. When I did my research, I found very little out there linking recruitment and social enterprise. But then though building a relationship with Homeless Link they have been able to build up our contacts within the sector. Just last week, a chat with Christy from Standing Tall in Birmingham found us discussing some common themes as they too are looking at a recruitment agency slant on helping their homeless clients. As with any two models, it’s not the same as ours but we were able to exchange insights into such challenges as getting employers on board and developing a model that pays. We’ve agreed to share information on the journey.”

If you are thinking of venturing into the world of Social Enterprise or are looking to scale an existing idea, please get in touch with murphy.hopkins-hubbard@homelesslink.org.uk to find out more about the launch of the second year of the Enterprise Development Programme.

<< Originally published by Homeless Link on 21/11/19: homeless.org.uk/connect/blogs/2019/nov/21/enterprise-movement-–-collaborative-network-of-learning >>