Posts Tagged ‘social enterprise’
Earlier today, Catherine Evans, Wales Co-operative Centre Marketing Manager, accompanied a delegation from the Czech Republic on a visit to Cardiff social enterprise Vision 21. Here’s her story…
I’m just back from spending the morning with a group of visitors from the Czech Republic. They’ve spent the week in Wales to find out about social enterprise. I went with them to Vision 21 in Cardiff, a social enterprise which provides training and work to people with disabilities.
The Czech Republic has a well developed tradition of
co-operatives, stemming back 160 years. Agriculture and housing are two sectors which are largely based on
co-operative models. However, the concept of social enterprise is much less well known, and the group (which included people from the South Bohemian Chamber of Commerce, a university economics department, local government and civic bodies) had come to Wales to find out more about how social enterprises can provide employment for people who are furthest from the main-stream labour market.Vision 21 was founded in 1987 and currently provides over 350 student placements each week. It has 16 different social enterprises to support training into the world of work and further learning for people with differing needs and styles. Its projects provide the students with the opportunity to broaden their life skills in real work settings.The building which I visited with the delegation from the Czech Republic was the Sbectrwm Centre in Fairwater, Cardiff.
The morning began with a tour of Sbectrwm led by Diana O’Keefe, manager of Vision 21’s ICT training project. Delegates were shown the pottery workshop, the community garden and the café, and had a chance to talk to some of the students based at the Centre.They then heard from Diana about the way in which Vision 21 works with people who have a wide variety of physical, emotional and social needs. It was interesting to learn how the organisation teaches soft skills – such as time management, self confidence and working independently – as well as basic literacy, numeracy and IT skills, and vocational skills.
Rhian Edwards from the Wales Co-operative Centre spoke about the co-operative and social enterprise sector in Wales, and explained how the economic challenges facing Wales are often best tackled by social enterprise and co-operative solutions. She highlighted the huge variety of sectors where co-operatives and social enterprises are thriving.
Simon Harris, Wales Director of Business in the Community, discussed the way in which the private sector can play a role in society by adopting responsible business practices. He outlined four pillars of responsible business – care for employees, care for the community, care for the environment, and responsible supply chains.
The Czech delegates asked plenty of questions about how social enterprise is supported and its relationship to government bodies. They were also curious about Wales’s relationship with the European Union, and the level of EU support for social enterprise.
It was a fascinating morning and great to showcase one of Wales’s best known social enterprises to an international audience.
Swansea training and consultation co-operative, Dynamix has won a prestigious award for procurement at the Welsh National Procurement Awards in Deganwy, North Wales.
The procurement awards aim to highlight the good practice of both procurement teams who purchase services and goods for the public sector, and the businesses that supply them. Dynamix won the ‘Most Improved Supplier Award’ at the ceremony which recognises a supplier who has made use of the support services to improve their tendering methods and thereby improved their chances of winning public sector contracts.
Dynamix was set up in Swansea 23 years ago and has built up a reputation for working with children, young people and adult community members and the professionals that support these groups.
Amy Sanders is one of the directors of Dynamix. She commented,
“The decision to give the award to Dynamix is a tremendous opportunity to both shine a light on social enterprises and how they can make a meaningful contribution to supply services to local authorities and public bodies.
With such a thriving social enterprise sector in Wales, we believe that a social enterprise succeeding in the Procurement Awards is a sign that the proportion of services supplied to the public sector by social enterprises is growing. Social Enterprises need to be recognised for the additional benefits they bring to the public sector. As award recipients, Dynamix hope we can continue to advise how procurement can be done in a way that values social enterprises and does not disadvantage them.
The tendering process is seen as such an obstacle for some social enterprises and Dynamix are so proud that we have been recognised for the enormous hard work we have invested in order to be able to meet the exacting requirements so that we can compete on an equal playing field. It has really paid off in Dynamix’s ability to secure significant contracts and broaden our work.”
Social Media and Digital Technology for your Business – networking event and workshop – Porthcawl, 27th February
Do you want to know how your business can benefit from using social media? Book your place on this free event to find out how the main themes and principles of social media can be applied to your business.
The event is designed to promote the support Communities 2.0 can offer to social enterprises and enterprises, as well as the business support available to social enterprises via the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Social Enterprise Support Project. Communities 2.0 is a Welsh Government programme which helps people and small enterprises make the most of ICT and the Internet.
The event is on Wednesday 27 February. It starts at 9:30am and will run until 12:30pm. Tea, coffee and breakfast rolls will be served.
Tom Beardshaw from social media specialists Native HQ, will be running a small workshop during the morning. The workshop is designed to give you practical knowledge of social media and how it can be used to grow your businesses. Networking opportunities will also be available throughout the morning.
Place are limited so book your place now.
Where and when?
• The Y Centre, 25 John Street, Porthcawl CF36 3AP. Tel: 01656 772 166
• 9:30am – 12:30pm, Wednesday 27 February 2013.
The event is jointly organised by Communities 2.0, Wales Co-operative Centre, Social Economy and Enterprise Network3 Network and South East Wales Community Economic Development.
We are issuing the following information on behalf of Social Enterprise UK:
Social Enterprise UK has commissioned BMG Research, an independent research agency, to carry out a phone survey of social enterprises in the UK. The aim of the survey is to find out what is working and where the problems are so that Social Enterprise UK can work with you to provide solutions. This survey is a vital piece of research providing information on the social enterprise landscape. It is the only piece of research that looks exclusively at social enterprises and is widely cited by Government, social enterprise support bodies, think tanks and social enterprises to help create a more supportive environment for the sector.
We would very much welcome your views – the survey should take around 25 minutes, and the answers you give will be kept entirely confidential. For your assurance BMG Research abides by the Market Research Society’s code of conduct and the Data Protection Act.
Social Enterprise UK is the national body for social enterprise and they represent a wide range of social enterprises, regional and national support networks and other related organisations. They believe that social enterprise is the right way to do business and work with their members to promote social enterprise and best practice, inform policy, lobby government and conduct research. If you have any queries about the Social Enterprise UK please visit their website at http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk, where you will also find contact details.
If you are able to participate in this phone survey please email Lys Coleman, the BMG Research Director responsible for the project, at email@example.com. The deadline for entries to the phone survey is Tuesday 19th February.
We very much hope you will be able to participate in this important piece of research, and thank you in advance for your time.
Social Enterprise Day 2012 – A day in the life of a Care & Repair Services Handyperson Administrator
My name is Carys Rumbelow and I am a Handyperson Administrator for the company Care & Repair Services. I have only been working for Care & Repair Services for 4 months. We work within the construction industry where we offer a building maintenance and adaptation service. One of our main clients is Swansea Care & Repair (a charity) which helps older and disabled clients with their home adaption needs, allowing them to remain safe and secure in their own homes for as long as possible.
No day is ever the same. It is good to start out the working day knowing that you are making a difference and improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in South Wales. Working with a fantastic and dedicated team of people is one of the most enjoyable things about my job.
8am – I arrive at work and ready my team of Handypersons to start their daily jobs. We start the day with a short meeting and cup of hot tea. This is a good time to discuss any problems from the previous day. My team consists of 7 handypersons and 2 handyperson assistants. Their specialities vary from a qualified plumber, electrician, carpenter and general builders. The handypersons get their day started by checking that their vans are stocked ready for their list of work for the day.
9am – By this time the Handypersons are out on the vans on the way to their first clients of the day. My job then is to look over the jobs completed from the previous day ensuring all work has been completed and any notes are inputted onto the diary alongside the relevant job. I then scan onto the system any assessed works to ensure we have a copy of them before handing the work over to the estimator for costing.
10am – 11am – I start working through my e-mails received from Swansea Care & Repair for requested work to be completed. I type up a Job Sheet for each request and organise into relevant specialities for each handyperson. This gives me a chance to also check if any specialised stock needs to be ordered for that work to be completed.
Between 12pm-1pm I take lunch for ½ hour. The short break away from my desk allows me to relax and think about the afternoons tasks.
1pm – After completing all job sheets for the requested works I then provisionally schedule the handypersons into our works diary. This is sometimes booked as far as 3 weeks in advance. I then call the client to check that they will be available on that date. If convenient I convert the appointment to confirmed. If the date is not convenient then I will give alternative dates to the client. This work alone can take all day depending on the number of referral requests we get, throughout the day, from the charity or our own clients.
2pm- Throughout the afternoon I spend my time split between scheduling and organising the handypersons next day. This includes printing off a diary list of work booked for the following day, making up zip pocket files with all relevant jobsheets and company statutory forms. I then take them into the warehouse where I put them into the corresponding handypersons pigeon holes for them to collect in the morning.
3pm- Throughout the day I also monitor the phone lines and take new referrals for work. The handypersons start to return back to base around this time. If there any specific problems that might have arisen I will get involved in solving them. The handypersons also use this time to organise and sort out any stock needed for the next day.
4pm- The day ends. Hopefully everything is organised and sorted for the next day.
For more information on Care & Repair Services, visit http://www.careandrepair.org.uk/swansea/
Mike Jones is a Development Officer for the Social Enterprise Support Project based in the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Abercynon Office and covering projects around Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Carmarthenshire. Here he shares an insight into a typical day in his working life:
It’s 6:30 a.m. and raining outside as I get up and have my breakfast and start to think about what the day has in store for me. I have to travel some distance to West Wales first where I have arranged a 9:00 a.m. meeting with a client and a business consultant.
So I set off from home at 7:30 allowing enough time for the morning traffic and for me not to be the one that everyone is waiting for. On arriving at my client’s office at 8:50 a.m. I find that everyone has made the meeting and we are able to grab a cup of coffee each and get on with business immediately.
I have been working with this particular client for some time and find that their needs are quite complex. They’ve already formed a Company Limited by Guarantee under which they can operate, but now find that they wish to raise further finance from the community. They will need to do this by issuing shares and their current legal structure is really unsuitable for this.
The main reason therefore for meeting them today is so that we can convert their current company into an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) thereby enabling them to issue community shares. I have already emailed their “Model Rules” a few days before by using support provided by Cooperatives UK based in Manchester.
My main task for today’s visit is to go through the Rules with them in order to be sure that all their needs have been met and that there are no documented errors to be found. I then have to check that the client has followed the correct procedure by ensuring that the membership has correctly met and voted on the conversion and that the paperwork bears this out.
I have also invited along a business consultant for this meeting who I have arranged to support the client further, by writing a business plan with them. Again I have arranged the papers beforehand and what is needed at this meeting is that I explain to the consultant his brief in front of the client and to sign an agreement for the work.
It’s now 10:40 a.m. and the meeting took a little longer than I expected but still the meeting achieved all that I had hoped for. Finally, a quick word with the consultant to ensure that he has all the information he needs and that the work will be completed within the agreed timescale.
By the time I have driven back to my office at Abercynon it’s 11:55, and the first thing I need to do is to inform Cooperatives UK that the client and directors have signed the paperwork and that they were being posted that day. In addition the preferred language of operation for my client is Welsh so now that I am satisfied that the set of Rules in my possession is the final document and there are no further amendments I am able to arrange their translation for circulation.
I then make a phone call to brief another consultant who will be preparing the “prospectus” so that he will be ready to support the share issue once the IPS registration and business plan are in place.
It’s now 1:00 p.m. and down to the local supermarket in order to buy a sandwich and stroll around for ten minutes or so before returning to the office by 1:35 p.m. and a cup of coffee as well as a quick look at what is on the news on the BBC website.
At 1:50 p.m. my sandwich is finished and it’s time to go through my emails. I note that amongst things which need my attention is an email from a client who has been writing her own business plan and has asked me to read through it and to give her some feedback.
By 2:00 p.m. after looking for salient points in the plan that need attention, I note that there is no clear reference to social objectives, no real reference to what services will provide the income needed to eventually be self-sustaining and that no budget has been produced. I phone the client and give my initial thoughts on the plan and arrange to meet with her in two days time, in order to provide more support or to see whether some consultancy may be needed after all.
It’s 2:50 p.m. and I need to drive and meet a group of young people in the Bridgend area who are setting up a social enterprise, which has had issues regarding its grant. They need to discuss issues and concerns that their funders have raised and have asked that I be there in order to help them explain their position. I arrive at 3:35 p.m. and we go through the issues.
The problems were not as great as I had initially feared but they do mean that the group needs to be a little less ambitious about its objectives and, because of their inexperience, they need to seek some mentoring support from someone with the relevant experience. As it happens, I know how they can find this support at no cost to them and I make a note and promise to speak to the person I have in mind the following day.
It’s now 4:05 p.m. and a client nearby has a project launch I was invited to attend, so I arrive there at about 4:20 p.m. and a quick cup of coffee before the speeches start. I feel quite happy that things are going so well for the client and that the Wales Co-operative Centre has been able to support them in their success.
After the speeches I take the opportunity to network with other invitees and get involved with discussions on issues and problems. I look at my watch and it’s already 5:20 p.m. and, oh dear it’s Thursday evening and I’d promised to take my wife shopping at 5:30 p.m…
If you are based in South Wales and need more information about support for Social Enterprises available through the Wales Co-operative Centre, visit our website www.walescooperative.org or call 0300 111 5050.
Mike Williams is a Development Officer for the Social Enterprise Support Project based in the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Bangor Office. Here he shares an insight into a typical day in his working life:
My alarm rings at the usual time of 6.30am. I do not have far to travel this morning so I get up leisurely at 6.45, have a shower and breakfast before catching up with the news and setting off to work at around 8.15. I live close to my Bangor office and it usually takes no longer than 10 minutes to drive in, although the morning traffic on the Britannia Bridge was quite heavy today and its 8.40 by the time I get to my desk. Still, most of my Cardiff colleagues would envy this.
I’m working in the office this morning and have time to catch up on emails and other correspondence before ensuring that my preparation for the day’s two meetings is complete. I take the opportunity to telephone a couple of new client groups to ensure that they remain comfortable regarding our discussions last week – both remain positive about their projects and have no further questions at this time.
I received two further client enquires yesterday and at 11am I work through their enquiry forms to ensure that the Social Enterprise Support Project is the most appropriate source of assistance for them. Under the terms of this project we are tasked with helping social enterprises and co-operatives that have the potential to grow and contribute to their local economy, and whilst not all the enquiries I receive fit into this category I am pleased that the two applications in front of me seem to fit very well. I therefore telephone the principal contact for each group to arrange an initial meeting which will allow me to look deeper into their proposals and provided them with an opportunity to ask any questions they wish.
By noon I have agreed meeting times and venues with both clients and break for lunch. I usually try to take a short walk during the lunch break because this is a sedentary lifestyle, either sitting behind a desk or in the car on my way to and from meetings. Often, if I am working in the office I will take lunch at home as I live so near and make a point of stretching my legs, even if it’s only for a brief stroll.
I am back behind my desk before 1pm and answer a few more emails before leaving at 1.30pm for my first face-to-face meeting of the day. I am heading to Llangefni, about 20 minutes away, to network with the manager of a locally-based grant fund which was recently launched and is specifically available to social enterprises. During the meeting we discuss the rules of the grant and some of the practical implications which are emerging as it starts to roll out – these are things which are difficult to anticipate in theory and I find the discussion very useful as the grant will undoubtedly be beneficial to several of my clients.
I’m back in the office by 4 o’clock and have time to answer a few more emails as well as respond to a couple of telephone messages before I leave, early at 4.30pm, for home. It’s not a short day, however, as following a cup of tea and a quick snack I make my way to Beaumaris to meet representatives of a group I am working with there, the meeting scheduled to start at 6pm. Evening meetings are not uncommon in my work – the community groups which I support comprise a number of individuals, many of whom are themselves working and can therefore only meet outside normal working hours. Although it is often possible to meet with a few available representatives during the day, if I do need to speak with everyone the meeting invariably takes place in the evening, which is all part of the service.
The group I am meeting this evening is in the process of negotiating with the local authority to take over the running of the town’s leisure centre on behalf of the community. Whilst the authority is very supportive I have been mainly working with the group itself, which on previous meetings had decided that the most appropriate legal structure will be that of a charitable company limited by guarantee. The first step is to create a company and I have therefore prepared a ‘memorandum and articles of association’ for the members, based on their own preferences, which will be acceptable to the Charity Commission.
The purpose of the meeting this evening is to ensure that these rules are acceptable to everyone within the group and to explain the main responsibilities of company directors before asking group members to complete the appropriate documentation for Companies House, which I have also prepared in advance.
The meeting itself went very smoothly as those involved are a strong team, knowledgeable and fully committed to their cause. Even so, it was approaching 9.15pm by the time everything was concluded, but I was able to set off home in the knowledge that I had been able to make a practical contribution to their cause.
If you are based in North Wales and need more information about support for Social Enterprises available through the Wales Co-operative Centre, visit our website www.walescooperative.org or call 0300 111 5050.
All businesses need to think about how they plan for the future and social enterprises are no different writes Glenn Bowen, Project Director of the Social Enterprise Support Project at the Wales Co-operative Centre.
It is common for social enterprises to be driven by the founding members who shape the culture, ethos and strategic direction of the business. These individuals usually have a long term commitment to the business and often spend their professional working lives involved in the business. In terms of business continuity and knowledge retention this is a very positive thing and only becomes a problem when that individual leaves the business.
A good social entrepreneur will understand the importance of legacy and will invest time and energy in selling the vision and culture of the business to all stakeholders including employees, Board members and members. Setting these firm foundations will mean that the business will not end or falter when the founding members leave but grow and flourish. Founding members who feel positive about sharing the ownership, control and culture of the business with a wider group of stakeholders are more likely to be able to look back historically and say “I was there when it all started”, as opposed seeing the business fail on his or her departure.
Good governance is not just about ensuring social enterprises operate effectively and efficiently within the current market it’s also about ensuring effective management capacity into the future. A social enterprise that is looking to the future will engage with its members to ensure that they buy in to the ethos of the business and that they feel sufficiently engaged with the business. This is important, as well trained engaged members will become the next generation of Board members that will lead the strategic direction on the business; it would be great to have a pool of future directors waiting in the wings that could be called upon when a director departs the business. Unfortunately this is rarely the case, it is more usual for the Board to try and head hunt, or convince people to step up to the mark and then spend time training them up appropriately.
A strong engaged Board that is able to provide effective scrutiny and support to operational managers and will allow ‘check and balance’ to take place between the Board (answerable to the members and responsible for setting strategic direction) and the operational manager (often the founder member of the business and responsible for the day to day effective operational management of the business).
A strong Board is important when a founding operational manager decides to leave the business, they then need to represent the culture and values of the business when they recruit a new operational manager who is likely to be new to the business and be less comfortable with its values and vision. A good Board will do a risk assessment on the losing key members of staff on the effect this loss will have on the business. If the highlighted risk is deemed to be ‘high’ they should then come up with actions to mitigate those risks, this could include training or up-skilling other employees, Board members or volunteers.
In an ideal world when a founding manager is going to leave the business this would be a planned process where the Board along with the departing manager have time to develop an effective succession plan and recruitment process.
The Centre has supported a number of social enterprises through facilitated visioning exercises to plan this process effectively. The resulting transition from one operational manager to another is smooth without major organisational disruption.
The Wales Co-operative Centre supports the development and growth of social entrepreneurship, social enterprises and co-operatives in Wales.
For more information, visit www.walescooperative.org call us on 0300 111 5050 and follow us on Twitter @WalesCoopCentre.
It’s Social Enterprise Day and Catherine Evans, Wales Co-operative Centre Marketing Manager, is spending some time with Ffin Dance in Abertillery, South Wales.
Ffin (pronounced Feen) Dance is a social enterprise which was founded in 2003 by charismatic Artistic Director Sue Lewis. Sue spent many years developing dance in the South Wales Valleys, first as Head of the Dance Department at Ebbw Vale Comprehensive School and subsequently as Director of Blaenau Gwent’s flagship Youth Dance Company, The Move.
The South Wales Valleys is one of the poorest areas in the UK with disproportionately high unemployment and many families living just below the poverty line. Whilst many urged Sue to set up a dance company in the more cosmopolitan environment of Cardiff, she was clear that everyone should have access to high quality, contemporary art, and so decided to base herself and her company in Abertillery.
Traditionally, arts companies have tended to rely on grants to survive, but since Sue found that many grants came with strings attached, she decided to follow a social enterprise model and rely on income earned from classes, ticket sales and commercial opportunities. This has given the company the freedom to pursue its own strategic goals, and forced them to become more entrepreneurial, ambitious and pro-active as a result. The company also has some high profile supporters as a result of its social enterprise status. Internationally renowned performance architect Sheron Wray made a new piece for the company in 2009, and Gary Lambert, a critically acclaimed performer and choreographer, is now the company’s Associate Director. These high profile connections have enabled Ffin Dance to extend its touring programme and it now regularly performs at international festivals across the globe.
Today will be a very busy day for the company as it prepares for its Winter Dance Faktry Festival. This is a two-day event which pulls together performances by a number of local community dance groups as well as two fledgling professional companies, who are being given a public platform for the first time to showcase their work. The shows are on at The Met in Abertillery (more details at http://www.the-met.co.uk/events).
The main job for today is to get everything ready for the performances. This means working with the technical team to plan for the final rehearsals, rigging the theatre lighting, making decisions about how to photograph and film the show and making sure all the dressing rooms are ready for when the performers arrive.
Its going to be a busy and exciting day!For more information on Ffin Dance, visit http://www.ffindance.co.uk/ and follow on Twitter @ffindance.
My name is Steve Higgott and I am a supervisor for the food poverty project FareShare North Wales. I have been working for the social enterprise Crest Co-operative for 4 years. FareShare North Wales is run by Crest Co-operative. We work with the food industry to save in-date food from landfill. The food provides meals for hundreds of vulnerable people across North Wales.
No day is ever the same and it is great to start out your working day knowing that you are making a difference to the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people in North Wales.
I work with a team of dedicated volunteers and people from different backgrounds who take part in work placements at Crest Co-operative. These individuals are often unemployed or have learning disabilities. Working with a fantastic team of people is one of the things that I enjoy most about my job!
9am – I arrive at work and already have a team of volunteers ready to start their daily duties. We start the day by having a meeting and discuss where we will be travelling to. My team of staff consists of a van driver, a warehouse cleaner, van driver’s assistants and staff who stock take and pick orders. We get the day started by looking at our list of stock and picking orders, which will be delivered to community groups, supporting homeless and vulnerable people. We pick tinned food, cereals, frozen food, fruit and bottled water.
10am – By this time we are ready to start our daily deliveries. We deliver to different community groups every day and have 27 community food members. These are community groups who support disadvantaged people. On this particular day I am delivering food to five community groups. Myself and one assistant will be travelling to Llandudno, which is a 10 minute car drive from our depot. Our first stop is a homeless drop- in centre. We are met at the door by a team of friendly staff, including the drop-in-centres kitchen staff. They are keen to see what we are delivering and are already deciding how they will use the produce to create nutritious meals for the centre’s homeless service users.
11am – We arrive at a drop in centre, which supports people who are suffering from mental health issues. Today the staff will be putting together food parcels with our delivery. This will ensure that their service users are eating a healthy, balanced diet. Our next stop is a residential centre for adults with learning disabilities. We take the food to the kitchen, much to the delight of the chef, who is keen to start preparing a fresh lunch for the adults.
12 noon – We deliver five crates of food to a day centre for the elderly. Our last stop is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. We chat to the staff, who are creating an exciting pasta lunch for their service users from FareShare produce.
1pm – It’s back to our Llandudno Junction depot, just in time for lunch.
2pm – We clean the warehouse and ensure that all food is still in-date. We accept deliveries from local food suppliers, who have surplus stock that they would like to donate to vulnerable people.
3pm – We work as a team to do a stock take of the FareShare warehouse.
4pm – I visit a homeless hostel to carry out a health and safety audit. The audit is a success and they become a new community food member!
5pm – Finish the warehouse duties and thank my team of volunteers.
For more information on Crest Co-operative, visit http://crestcooperative.co.uk/ and follow on Twitter @Crestrecycle.