2nd February 2016
Many social entrepreneurs start their venture in order to tackle an issue they've experienced in their communities. The best way that these social entrepreneurs can be supported is by ensuring that there are local organisations - with knowledge of the area and networks in the community - that can offer guidance and mentorship to help them succeed.
Our Lead the Change programme, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, has seen us work with 12 non-profit-organisations to support community and social entrepreneurs across the North of England, the Midlands and Northern Ireland. These community and voluntary organisations were chosen because they are grounded and rooted in their local communities.
We worked with them equip them with the skills, knowledge and expertise to identify and support local social entrepreneurs. They have supported some brilliant people and ventures tackling some of the most crucial issues facing communities across the UK including making sure that vulnerable children get the best possible education, supporting people with mental illness, and giving young adults get into employment.
Leona Gallen started her venture, Make Memories, to help people living with dementia document their lives and memories, as a way of making lives less stressful to them and their families. Leona trains carers with scrapbooking skills so that they can work with their patients to build a personalised book of memories.
One of the things that has really struck Leona through delivering the enterprise is the importance of getting some time to relax - for both patients and carers.
"I remember my mum used to go to a woman's guild one night a week where they talked, knitted and had a cuppa. She was a stay at home mum and it was her one night a week where she got to socialise and have adult conversation. Delivering these workshops I notice how, similarly, mental health carers get to have a bit of me time."
Boston, Lincolnshire has no local film or television presence. Stephan Genovese wanted to change this. "As an actor I find myself travelling to London several days a week for filming and auditions," he says, "This travelling is costly and many cannot afford to do the same. I wanted to bring movies here so that everyone can be involved in some big projects locally."
He started a social venture Film4All, which runs sessions, usually tied to actual projects, to give local people the chance to learn all about filmmaking - including camera operation, script writing and direction, makeup, special effects and acting. Stephan is currently drawing on the talents of local people to make the film Dishonoured.
"After having my second child I suffered from Post Natal Illness; Iâ€™d also just moved to a new town and felt socially isolated," says Lynn Hammel, founder of Clart About, "I set up Clart About to help other mothers and their families who are in similar positions."
Clart About offers a place for new mums and their babies in County Durham - providing affordable play sessions and support for young mothers experiencing social isolation. "The Award has helped me become more confident in my own abilities. Thanks support from Nancy Radford, from Social Entreprise Acumen, I've applied foffer on a wider scale."
Feeling Grumpy provides training and work experience opportunities for local people, as well as a place for people to socialise. Sharon Fullerton started the social venture after experiencing unemployment herself.
"The Award has meant I can go from being unemployed to having a really satisfying career - it's boosting my confidence and self esteem," says Sharon, "It's also enabling me to do the same for others in return - helping them to build their confidence and hopefully go on to employment."
IMAS seeks to break down barriers between able bodied and disabled players, through a sporting model that involves integrated teams. It incorporates inclusive educational projects, allowing the disabled players to be involved in the development and expansion of their chosen sport. The model began in Rugby Union and is now expanding to other sports.
"The award was the start of an exciting journey," explains Mark Goodwin, the social entrepreneur behind the venture. "It financed some early infrastructure and through the programme we received a mentor and access to support around structure, fundraising and business planning. Having the support from Particpate (the Lead the Change partner) and UnLtd really helped increase our confidence and gave us the tools to make a project a success".
In 12 months IMAS secured over £139,000 to host the first Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament. This included a £50,000 Crowdfunder campaign, grants and sponsorships. Over 400 players from 10 nations took part including teams from as far afield as Argentina. IMAS has now secured a national contract with the RFU to deliver Mixed Ability Rugby, run a competitive bidding process for the next tournament and begun the roll out to five new sports.
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