Enterprise with Meaning: The Story in Brighton

UnLtd’s Resilient Communities programme is all about supporting social entrepreneurs whose work is focused on the place they are in, and being led by the people who live there. It hopes to create better facilities; new stories about place, and put decision making power in the hands of residents.

Each of the 30 areas across the UK where we are focussing resources has an Award Manager’s support. They know the community, the entrepreneurs and their specific local circumstances.

In Brighton and the surrounding area, particularly powerful work is taking place with the support of our Award Manager, Rebecca Luff. The city has a thriving social enterprise sector with local people managing their services and products, including a community owned and run gym (The Manor),  pub (The Bevy), and theatre (Brighton People’s Theatre) – all three separate ventures –  as well as The Good Business Club which provides support and advice to social entrepreneurs in the city.

Photograph of Ricky Perrin, three quarters close of him sitting in a wheelchair slightly tilted back and holding a basketball.

In January, people with an interest in working together to build on all these brilliant ideas came together at an event called Enterprise with Meaning. The idea was to work alongside Resilient Community team members from UnLtd to workshop a vision for Brighton and Hove, so that it is an inclusive place, where social enterprise can flourish and the community can lead on how funds are spent. It is also about pushing back against the stigma particularly attached to some of the areas outside the city centre.

Woman with baby carrier working at weaving with small child to her right looking up.

For this to happen, decisions on how to use the monetary support we can offer must be made by the community, for the community.

Enterprise with Meaning is the name given to this collaborative effort of local social and community entrepreneurs and their supporters, resourced in 2019 by UnLtd's Resilient Communities and the players of the People's Postcode Lottery.

Enterprise with Meaning in a circle with logos for all the supporting partners surrounding it.

Arriving at the YHA for the Visioning event first thing on a frosty morning, there was already a packed room of approximately 20 people chatting and planning. During the day we got through many huge and challenging questions that will be used to produce a manifesto for the Enterprise with Meaning coalition.

One of the most inspiring parts involved asking everyone to describe how they felt Brighton would look if social entrepreneurs could all be successful: no homelessness, affordable housing, big businesses helping, Eastern areas of the city getting more visitors. There were endless possibilities, and a lot of shared dreams, along with a slab of pragmatism: the need for constructive collaboration and connecting across sectors and amongst social enterprise, building on small successes, keeping money in the local economy and paying attention to ‘communities within communities’ were all on the table.Since that flip-charting day ideas have become small shoots. On 25th February, applications for UnLtd’s Resilient Communities Awards were peer reviewed by 18 people, a mix of applicants and supporters, and decided that 11 people will be receiving early stage awards. They range from people working on food distribution to an outdoor parents and toddler group.  

These fledgling social enterprises aim to tackle social challenges, in a way that is specific to communities in Brighton where the Award winners live and work, such as such as Denise Millar who is providing affordable wellbeing services for the people of Portslade and Hangleton. Or Ricky Perrin, who is not only running a wheelchair basketball group, he is also teaching medical professionals, and Brighton Council about Disability Sports and creating ground-breaking changes to services. These are the vital practical steps which can help to knit together the vision of Brighton as a hub for social enterprise.

Image of woman tuning small guitar in the Bevy pub.

Group of boccia players posing together against the blue wall of a gym with several small balls on the ground in front.

All photography ©Nina Emett/FotoAgency

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If you would like to join the Enterprise with Meaning collaboration and commit some time to helping to take the work forward, please contact Rebecca Luff.

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