Chris Smith from Swarm Communications wrote a really good piece in the Guardian on the desperate need for social enterprise to communicate to those outside our cosy tent, what we are and why we matter. I would say that as he generously quotes me, and other than the rather challenging photo of me in what I now regard as dodgy earrings, I come off rather well as do SEL members Fifteen, Belu, Greenworks, Divine and our old friend Rob Greenland the man behind the fantastic Social Business Blog.
SEL staff have had some fun with the above photo today with an impromptu caption competition, front runners at the moment are "How big!?" and "This big". Feel free to join in, you can only do better.
The point Chris makes, that the wider public need to get what we do in order to join us, you might think is self evident in its urgency. He goes on to say that our recent association with the Big Society might have got us out to a wider audience but that could be tricky as the Big Society remains rather ill defined itself. Getting stories out about the smaller, newer, cutting edge social enterprises like Bikeworks or Responsible IT is the job of agencies like SEL and I hope we are doing our job well but I agree we need to do more and fast. Worth a read.
This morning the row over cuts to respite care for families of disabled children is a case in point. On BBC Breakfast the manager of the Watford MENCAP centre for respite care was interviewed and was angry at the cuts, and angry about "all this talk about social enterprise". "What was it?" she asked. "Where are the models for us to follow? How will it help us with these cuts?" she went on to say. These are all good questions and just as Government talks enthusiastically about social enterprise they must offer people support to explore the model. It is the screaming absence of specifics or resource to access expertise that leads to people getting angry, and angry with us. As Chris Smith says, social enterprise needs to communicate its story, we need to do this so that folk in Watford can make an informed decision about whether its right for them.