19th August 2021
Grassroots knowledge, connections, and experience are sparking innovative social change from community leaders across the UK.
UnLtd's supported local social entrepreneurs to make lasting change in Dundee, North Staffs, South Wales Valleys, and Brighton through its Resilient Communities programme, made possible by players of People's Postcode Lottery,
The programme offered funding, coaching and non-financial support to social entrepreneurs delivering local solutions to local issues. Its core ethos was the belief that long-term, sustainable change can only be fostered by a trusted community leader, driven by the best interests of the area. This approach empowers communities to take the lead, while funders listen and flex to their needs.
One award winner creating local employment opportunities is Joydeep Dutta, of Brighton Cauldron CIC. Joydeep joined the Resilient Communities programme in late 2019, applying his background in community development to use food as a way to help people of minoritised ethnicities into employment. Joydeep has a background in community development and catering and is using this to launch the project, whose aims include creating work opportunities, community integration, and reducing social isolation. Throughout COVID-19, they set up an emergency hub to provide food parcels to self and agency-referred locals.
Supporting enterprising and community-minded locals like Joydeep is Rebecca Luff, the UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Support Manager for Brighton and Hove, who works to ensure social entrepreneurs can have the highest impact. As a local herself, Rebecca uses her experience and expertise, to both work within the ecosystem, and further build and strengthen it.
UnLtd gives grants to individual social entrepreneurs, but we know that social change is made by a unified, connected community.
Strengthening the community to enable solutions has been a priority for Rebecca. Starting by bringing together social entrepreneurs across the city to form networks, offer peer support, minimise the isolation that often comes with being a social entrepreneur, and help the community enjoy more impactful and timely positive impact.
"Brighton and Hove is a place of extremes, with many less affluent areas in a very affluent City. Inside these communities, there are many people who have noticed the problems, with ideas for how the community can come together to solve them", Rebecca says.
Beyond the picturesque Brighton seaside sits areas facing challenges synonymous with deprivation, such as substance abuse, homelessness, and insecurity. However, where community problems lie, so do community solutions.
BrightStore is a local food project in the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership network, started during the COVID-19 pandemic to offer a food insecurity and food waste solution. While immediately helping both the community and the environment, the long-term goal focused on building community-led models of local food systems.
Inclusivity was a high priority for founder Rachel Pitts-Wicks, intentionally focusing on the design and delivery being shaped by voices who've had less access to these services – such as those with Arabic as a first language, single parents, or people of marginalised ethnicities.
BrightStore is now selling surplus food at affordable prices in its four Hollingdean and Hove stores each week. Every decision is made for the community, an ethos that will continue to guide BrightStore's growth across Brighton and Sussex.
For Rebecca, building social enterprise in the city required both connections between people doing the work, and a culture designed to support social entrepreneurs and their ventures to sustainably thrive.
Funding and support is given to specially designated local hubs that are responsive to the needs of the area, while pursuing shared visions for the community to build trust and support outreach activity. "Anchor Organisations" like the Manor Gym and The Bevy - seen in the Changing Places documentary here - are where current and future social entrepreneurs and local people can come together, share ideas, and find a support network. Conversations over cups of tea discuss social issues – and their solutions – in a space that's inviting, welcoming, and solutions-focussed.
"The Manor is at the centre of the community, people know it and feel comfortable to drop in for cups of tea. Conversations naturally happen, forming connections and ideas on how their ventures can work together to offer more support", Rebecca says.
In developing the Anchor Organisations for social entrepreneurs, Rebecca has worked to bring socially-minded agencies and private businesses into the social enterprise sphere too.
The Enterprise with Meaning collective is a network of over 100 people in the social enterprise, commercial, public, and third sectors. Through events and online platforms, the community supports each other towards their unified vision of more social and community enterprise for the city.
In 2019 over 150 locals collaborated to create EWM's Manifesto for the Social Economy in Brighton and Hove. The manifesto centred on listening, inclusivity, patience, and being bold to build a thriving social enterprise sector that can help solve many of the city's problems.
The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership is another example of the work that can be achieved with a connected ecosystem of likeminded social entrepreneurs. In 2020, the network came together to connect people in need with surplus food across the city. Their innovative model has been shared through their online talk series, and looked to by communities across the UK as a model of how societies can nourish and support each other.
Reflecting on the five years of the Resilient Communities program, Brighton and Hove has cultivated tailored, sustainable social services that prioritises local voices and needs. As jobs are created, food is shared, and social issues are tackled; local people, the private sector, and the council are seeing how opportunities for social enterprise create waves of change for the seaside city.