What is happening around the country to realise the potential of social enterprise?
Stimulating Social Enterprise
‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ The 10 year Scottish Government Strategy aims to raise the profile and the understanding about the role and operation of social enterprise. This will be not just within the third sector and business community but in schools, colleges and universities. Much of the schools and student work is undertaken by the Social Enterprise Academy and through links with local social enterprises.
There are a range of events held to engage the social enterprise, those that could be trading as a social enterprise, the public sector, private sector and the academic community. Senscot hold an annual event that is the key conference of the year. Closer to home Dundee SEN last year held an event that brought together the social enterprise and third sector grass roots staff with public sector, university and national bodies. There were over 100 attendees and the whole event which was sponsored by a mix of private sector and national bodies. As well as bringing new ideas and challenging perceived thinking, the conference also hosted the first Dundee social enterprise awards with four categories. This allowed them to showcase the work that was being carried out in Dundee to the national delegates. In addition, there was good press coverage and a news item on STV.
The social enterprise model has been found to meet the needs of those in communities, including equalities groups and communities of interest to recognise and develop new social enterprise opportunities like Amina or WeVolution . The rural communities also find that this is a good model for providing services that would otherwise not exist, mainly through market failure, and the 2017 census showed that there are a higher concentration in Highlands than other parts of Scotland. The most successful not only provide a service and employment but scale up to develop sustainable businesses. Callander Youth Trust Project provides employment and training as well as first class hostel for visitors. Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport provide a safe, high-quality, affordable, accessible transport and social inclusion services to those who have a community transport need in Badenoch and Strathspey. B&S CTC generates income through a series of registered bus routes. These are primarily used by local residents, but are also popular with the steady stream of tourists who visit Aviemore. A paid transport service is also available for people with disabilities who visit the area.
Developing Stronger Organisations
In order to achieve success, the training of staff and leaders is essential and this is embedded in the Scottish Government Strategy. There is an expectation that there will be support for new starts and those developing a social enterprise. The main delivery partner for this is the Social Enterprise Academy who offer bespoke courses throughout Scotland.
Social enterprises are also very good at supporting people who are furthest from the job market and taking them to the level of manager. DNDP has been very successful in employing those with mobility issues to be delivery drivers. The company’s policy of flexible working has allowed people with disabilities to enter sustainable employment, improving, transforming and in some cases even saving lives. This is not just creating jobs but offering a career.
Training programmes are provided through a range of nationally supplied courses and local events that are tailored to local need. Courses such as social impact assessment, finance and cashflow can be offered to support the specific needs of the sector whereas the colleges and Business Gateway offer booking and VAT or employment courses. Both of the Tay Cities Deal bids have at their core the provision of employment opportunities both for staff and those that which to create their own business.
The social enterprise networks provide a local support service as well as signposting and encourage mentoring by the more established organisations to those that are new starts. In addition, there are thematic SENs that are co-ordinated nationally by Senscot and are able to provide most specific engagement and representation on sectoral issues. They focus on Health, Sport, Culture, Employability, Tourism and Community Food. The local SENs are the place that the interactions and new contacts are made. New partnerships are formed and opportunities explored. Where possible the needs of members are addressed and by collaborating, the most cost effective solutions can be found. There has been an exchange programme funded through Scottish Community Alliance and this has allowed a wide range of shared learning and study visits to be undertaken. These are usually arranged by the SEN.
Realising Market Opportunity
There are a great many opportunities that are on offer however without support these cannot be taken forward. This might be in Health and Social Care provision, procurement in its widest sense through the public and private sector, development of goods for sale to the general public or through inter trading. Support has been offered to social enterprises in Dundee to be able to fulfil the requirements of the Welfare Fund. Three local organisations won the contract with the support of the procurement team and the council development officer.
Being able to identify and then tender for a contract can be a daunting prospect and one that requires a good working relationship with commissioners. Catering facilities for the Flower and Food Festival have traditionally been provided by a single provider who would purchase the concession to deliver all of the catering. Ongoing discussions between DSEN officers and Dundee City Council procurement team early in 2016 identified the opportunity for this service to be delivered in full or in part by Social Enterprise. The tender was placed on Quick Quotes and spilt into smaller lots. As a result of the work, Transform secured the contract to deliver hospitality and catering to the judges and a seated service of high teas to the public and ran a very successful service. The contract was been extended for this year’s show.
There is also a market for sales to the general public and the leading provider of this is the Edinburgh SEN with the Market in the Garden 2017. A wide range of goods were on offer right in the middle of the city during the festival. Increasing trade and not just taking on contracts is a way to scale up and increase your direct customers. Many of the SENs now produce a local directory to make it easier for potential customer to find the local social enterprises.
Developing public social partnerships has become a popular was to trial new ways of working build the capacity of the organisations involved in the delivery. Low moss prison Public Social Partnership is a project jointly designed and delivered by the public and third sectors which helps short-term prisoner’s access suitable housing, apply for jobs and increase their qualifications. It works to improve relationships with their families and communities, supporting them in prison and helping them to feel settled and adapt to life once they leave prison.
In Dundee, the Baldovie Recycling Hub has created a partnership that ensures that items which were previously incinerated or landfilled are now given a new lease of life and are of benefit to the local community to those who need it most. The partners have a base at the recycling centre and goods are selected before the cars get to the skips. Since the its opening the hub has received a total of 13,403 items.
Glasgow Caledonian University are leading a five year study, Common Health, into the effectiveness of social enterprise in responding to the Health and Social Care needs as well the effectiveness on the preventative potential. Individual social enterprises are making a real difference to people’s lives through the reduction of loneliness. Lingo Flamingo use education in different languages to achieve this.
In Angus, Care About Angus has grown to become a successful social enterprise delivering augmented preventative services for elderly and vulnerable people. With more than 50 employees and 400 customers, Care About Angus provides an example of the entrepreneurship and new approaches to delivering services.