Saturday, 19 November 2011

Racing through Social Enterprise Day with men with moustaches

Latzo lorverly prizes at Livity, Brixton 
For the last few years, Social Enterprise Day has been a real celebration for our world. It's a day when a great many social enterprises make the effort to showcase some or all of what they do. At SEL, we did our bit with a Guardian-supported launch of Spin-out and deliver, our latest publication on new forms of public service providers that go it alone to focus on social value, and an open day at the SEL offices.

At the youth and media company and SEL member, Livity, CEO Sam Conniff had Super Mario in and some guy in a red hat from the Cabinet Office to announce this organisation has organised youth consultation across the UK with Nintendo. This will co-design practical ideas that will make a real and lasting difference to young people. Nintendo intends to start piloting these co-created solutions for and with young people in their own communities as soon as next year.

Over the other side of town, SEL Director June O'Sullivan of LEYF gave this year's Margaret Horn Lecture at the RSA on LEYF research that explores social franchising as a model to tackle the challenges of child poverty. Read her lecture: 'Child poverty: Why social franchising is a giant step in the right direction'.  This event was chaired by Matthew Taylor, chief executive at the RSA.

Spin-out and deliver at the Guardian
Our own Guardian event sparked some really good debate and Matthew Booth, Head of Policy at Ealing Council was fantastic. He explained what was happening at the council and his frank and enthusiastic approach was a breath of fresh air. Participants got stuck in and a good discussion followed that I really enjoyed. As ever Andrew Burnell of City Health Care Partnership was on great form. Andrew is on the board of the Transition Institute (TI) and is as good an advertisement of public sector spin-outs that believe they are the next generation of public servants as you are ever likely to get. He was sporting his Movember moustache which, while impressive in a challenging facial hair sort of way, was no match for the tash of Super Mario. (Movember is an initiative that encourages men to grow moustaches in November to highlight issues and fundraising around men's health.)

Andrew will also be speaking at the TI launch of Social value ethos, its first publication on Monday at GLL facilities in Marshall Street, Westminster. Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society (as seen above and a person who started following me, @aogdennewton on Twitter yesterday), and Sir Stephen Bubb, CEO of ACEVO and TI board member, will also both be there.

Hearing about social enterprise
Back to Social Enterprise Day. I left the Guardian to race back to SEL offices where the staff had done a lovely job smartening us up for a social enterprise drop-in day. We had no idea how many would come, so were chuffed when over 50 social entrepreneurs came through our doors. Mei Hui, SEL's Senior Business Advisor, gave a presentation to over 30 of our guests and the rest met SEL staff and enjoyed some networking.

I had to break of to do a Live Guardian Q & A on, ironically the future of business support for social enterprise following the sad closure of our sister organisation RISE in the South West. During that discussion there were plenty of comments to the effect that everything we do should be paid for at the point of contact. Sitting in on Mei's presentation and listening to the comments from participants, I was struck by how much advice those new social entrepreneurs needed and how utterly unable the vast majority were able to pay for it. In this harsh new economic climate, it is hard to think those people are not our audience. After all, wasn't supporting community development through enterprise why we were set up in the first place?

When Mei, Jillian and I shut up shop at around 7.30pm, we congratulated ourselves on an excellent social enterprise day and wondered about next year: what would the world of social enterprise look like then?


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