A note from Mark Norbury, CEO of UnLtd
It's too early to tell what change will be driven by this year of lockdowns, global activism and economic gloom. But we do know that social entrepreneurs have proven their resilience. They have been on the frontline in communities, supporting the most vulnerable of people. They have shown that they have a critical role to play in the UK's recovery if we are to create a fairer and healthier society.
As an organisation, we too have weathered extraordinary change. In March we shifted our staff of 70 to a remote working environment. Over the course of the year we backed 650+ social entrepreneurs, running over 170 online workshops and giving out over £13 million in funding. We revamped our application process and brought in a more equitable approach to grant making. Following the summer's Black Lives Matter protests, we looked hard at our own approach to inclusion and made new commitments while strengthening others.
Like most in our sector, during 2020 we experienced burnout, isolation, anxiety and everything in between: but if there is one overriding emotion that describes how we closed out the year it is pride. Pride in our social entrepreneurs for their resilience and ingenuity. Pride in our staff for going above and beyond in extraordinary circumstances. Pride in our partners for backing us and flexing to ensure we could deliver what was needed, and providing the resources to do it. Pride in the frontline services that have cared for us and our families during this incredibly difficult year.
We have never been more certain that social entrepreneurs are a cornerstone in a just society. As we enter another a year of uncertainty, we commit to fighting harder than ever for our sector and their potential to create the change we so desperately need as we build a more just world.
Of the £13.2M in grants UnLtd distributed, £11.7M specifically supported social entrepreneurs to deal with the effects of COVID on themselves and their communities
UnLtd held over 200 events for social entrepreneurs, including workshops, peer support sessions, and celebrations.
Cleaning is often the first thing people do in the new year, and UnLtd started our year with the story of
Radiant Cleaners supports people into work who’ve faced employment barriers such as experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental health issues, or disabilities.
The work of UnLtd & Radiant Cleaners was recognised at the 2020 Social Value Awards in the Decent Work Category.
When social entrepreneurs see a social issue, it’s in their nature to try fix it. The impact may come straight away, or further down the line.
Social impact isn’t linear: the honest challenges of being a systems-changer shares Kirsty Woodard’s experience trying to transform later life for people without the support network of children.
Social enterprise isn’t easy, and despite having a clear problem and research-backed solution, Kirsty struggled to find funding. As a systems changer, Kirsty is using these lessons to inform how she can take this work forward.
By creating access to employment at a living wage, Radiant Cleaners creates an estimated social value of £211,406 for the UK per year.
Support Manager Laura Marney shared ‘The 10 pieces of the growth puzzle (and how Thrive can help you put them together)’, introducing Thrive while also sharing advice on how to prepare for growth and futureproof your venture’s sustainability.
While many of these tips are best business practice, they’re also elements that social entrepreneurs don’t have the time and capacity to build into their ventures. Laura shares the successes of participants in Thrive who’ve used this advice, including Offploy, Evenbreak, and Spiral Skills.
£1.8M in early stage funding was awarded
80%+ of our social entrepreneurs felt more valued and understood, and able to act for social change as a result of our support
Our support was rated a 9 out of 10 by 86% of social entrepreneurs
453 social entrepreneurs were supported to start or scale their ventures
We worked with a sample of 5 ventures tackling the disability employment gap, finding that they annually created £19.8M in social and financial value
The ventures sampled in our cost-benefit analysis improved the wellbeing of their users by 15-52%
Our Thrive access to employment social entrepreneurs created just under 5,000 jobs and training opportunities, exceeding their three year goal of 3,000
63% of those awarded funding, identify as Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority background and/or are disabled entrepreneurs.
72% of awards went to leaders with lived experience of the issue they are trying to tackle.
1:1 application support sessions were run for the Inclusive Recovery Fund