Social Enterprise Alliance For Midlothian. Action Plan

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1 Social Enterprise Alliance For Midlothian Action Plan

2 SEAM s Vision: To support and promote the development of in Midlothian. I About SEAM The Social Enterprise Alliance for Midlothian is Midlothian s Local Social Economy Partnership, and was formed in It is a partnership of social economy organisations and support/infrastructure agencies including Midlothian Council and Midlothian Voluntary Action. SEAM functions as a subgroup of the Improving Opportunities Midlothian theme of the Community Planning Partnership, and represents the voice of the social economy sector within the community planning process. SEAM is part of Midlothian s Third Sector Interface, alongside Midlothian Voluntary Action and the Volunteer Centre Midlothian, which means that it receives a share of a common Scottish Government fund which supports these agencies. SEAM s work is also reflected in the Third Sector Interface business plan. Background The partnership was officially launched in 2005 in recognition of the fact that support available to the social economy sector was piecemeal, inconsistent, and highly confusing for organisations or individual social entrepreneurs trying to access it. SEAM s key aims are: To form an effective support network for new and developing social economy organisations based and/or working in Midlothian; To raise the capacity of social economy organisations to make sustainable and effective contributions to the wellbeing of Midlothian s communities; To raise the profile of local s and expand awareness of generally. Partners SEAM is an unconstituted partnership of public and third sector organisations. It operates according to an informal partnership agreement based on principles of democracy and equality between partner organisations. At the present time, the partnership includes: Midlothian Council (Regeneration Development Team, New Leaf, and Childcare/Early Years Partnership) Midlothian Voluntary Action A broad range of local s and third sector organisations seeking to work in a more enterprising fashion.

3 Benefits of partnership Over nearly nine years of partnership, SEAM has demonstrated the benefits of the partnership approach to support. The most significant benefits are: Pooling of knowledge and expertise Collective use of limited time and financial contributions Collaborative generation of ideas Brokering of business relationships Reduction of confusion and duplication Enabling new and existing s to form effective strategic links with Midlothian s Community Planning Partnership, and to influence the community planning process (for example by being involved in Neighbourhood Planning). Resources SEAM has limited dedicated financial resources, but is able to extend the scope of its work through voluntary contributions of partners. It receives the smallest percentage share of the Third Sector Interface funding for Midlothian, and through this is able to fund a part-time development worker, based at MVA two days a week. Through other variable pots of funding, the SEAM development worker is able to support specific developments - such as the delivery of a series of training opportunities for those engaged in delivering community cafes. Midlothian Council s Regeneration Development Team provides Regeneration Officer time of roughly 5-6 hours per week to support and SEAM activities. Other SEAM partners contribute time and expertise in training, networking, mutual support and venues for events. NHS Lothians support SEAM with a 500 grant to help foster collaborative working and SEAM is now an active member of the Midlothian Food and Health Alliance Action Plan. SEAM seeks to work in partnership with a range of agencies across different sectors to promote opportunities for the growth of including the private sector through joint work with the Mid and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce and the Council s Procurement Services team.

4 II Recent Achievements The bulk of SEAM s work since the start of 2013 has been concerned with the provision of networking opportunities, and up-skilling s through training and one to one business-focused advice, guidance and capacity building. Some achievements have included: SEAM carried out a small-scale survey of in Midlothian which found that: there are over 70 s in Midlothian, up to around 100 the vast majority provide services (over 80%) but there is a significant minority (36%) which also manage facilities the vast majority (84%) provide services for children and young people but services for families and older people also feature prominently the majority (80%) are small in financial terms with turnovers of under 200,000 but the picture is variable and there are three with turnover in excess of 1m trading is increasing and for a majority of respondents constituted over 75% of turnover key perceived barriers to growth are access to funding, advice on marketing and business advice while perceived opportunities for growth are growth in markets, the development of new services or products and partnering. SEAM continues to provide s with opportunities to network and create partnerships. A total of five were held in 2013/14 attended by 54 participants from 24 organisations. SEAM works to raise the profile of the sector and has, in the last 12 months; refreshed to content of the web pages to reflect business growth cycles; started and issued nine electronic bulletins containing information and referral links to almost 60 social enterprises; established a Twitter profile with over 100 followers; and, commissioned a showcasing video for local organisations. SEAM has provided direct business and development support for 25 social economy organisations including start-ups, existing s and third sector organisations seeking to be more enterprising. SEAM put in place a package of support for those engaged in community cafes which play an important role in overcoming isolation, healthy eating and promoting health and wellbeing including Marketing, Healthy Eating on a Budget and REHIS training benefiting 29 participants to date and resulting in certification for 18 SEAM facilitated learning events around renewable energies and presentation skills and will develop opportunities around tendering and leadership skills.

5 III Directions for the Future: Strategic Overview It is undeniably a difficult time for the sector, and one which will require a new level of creativity, innovation and professionalism to negotiate successfully. The social economy is currently caught between several powerful and often conflicting pressures. Public sector spending cuts and dwindling charitable funding pots caused by the recession are inevitably leading to significant reductions in the funds which social economy organisations traditionally draw upon for start-up costs and for the development of new projects. Those funds which are being specifically targeted at, such as the Scottish Government s new Ready for Enterprise fund, are short-term and focused upon giving a boost to projects that are already mostly developed, funded, and either running or ready to start. Funders have become markedly more risk averse, and are under pressure to demonstrate social outcomes within what are commonly felt to be unrealistic timescales. Likewise, the economic downturn has made it more difficult for many small enterprisessocial and private- to generate reliable profits. On the other hand, at both UK and Scottish government levels, s are viewed as key to the delivery of essential public services, and in the agenda to transform the role of the public sector in direct service delivery. Social enterprise is politically attractive across the board, because it is perceived to be community-controlled and focused, capable of delivering efficient services, and yet at the same time enterprising and sustainable. Yet, these political perceptions are not always matched with real understanding of the challenges confronting the sector and the sheer difficulty of the task of starting and sustaining a social enterprise. The point must be emphasised that is never automatically a simple, cheap or voluntary option for the delivery of public services. However, as the recent report by the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services in Scotland (June 2011) emphasises, the most effective and efficient services are those which have developed around and out of the communities they are designed to serve. The report states: In developing new patterns of service provision, public service organisations should increasingly develop and adopt positive approaches which build services around people and communities, their needs, aspirations, capacities and skills, and work to build up their autonomy and resilience (p. 72). The ethos of, which SEAM aims to continue to build within Midlothian, is about local people using their skills and assets to identify their own solutions in partnership with other public service agencies.

6 Challenges affecting the sector in Midlothian SEAM has developed a good understanding of the issues affecting the social economy sector in Midlothian. Most of these issues will be similar to those experienced by organisations throughout the UK, but the size, location and demographic makeup of Midlothian do have an impact upon the sector in a number of ways. Over and above the difficulty of securing funding, as mentioned above, some of the most notable issues are: Complexity of support structures. Some social entrepeneurs entering the market find the lack of clarity around the support infrastructure confusing. The establishment of the national Just Enterprise programme as a point of entry was an attempt to address this but it lacks a high profile and, even when referrals are made, people still report a degree of confusion around subsequent support. SEAM will address this by continuing to work with those receiving support through Just Enterprise. Suburban economy and underperforming town centres. Midlothian s town centres are not seen as profitable locations for small businesses - particularly retailers and catering outlets. Shoppers tend to be drawn out of town retail parks or to Edinburgh. Midlothian s towns have not managed to create niche markets which would have the capacity to draw business out of Edinburgh. SEAM will work with social enterprises, particularly including development trusts and other enterprising anchor organisations to develop projects and marketing strategies that address these issues. Shortage of business development skills. Many of Midlothian s s have evolved out of grant-funded charitable organisations. This can sometimes make it difficult for the organisation to harness sufficient business expertise among staff or boards to develop an entrepreneurial culture an issue which SEAM is seeking to address by working with the private sector and others. Small scale s lacking the capacity to tender for and deliver public sector contracts. Many of Midlothian s s are not yet of a size or capacity to compete for public sector contracts but SEAM will work with the sector to raise awareness of opportunities and support individual tender bids. Lack of understanding of. It is clear that within the public sector there is still a lack of understanding around models and the concept that trading need not mean private gain and SEAM will seek to improve understanding. The activities identified by SEAM for the next year is to foster sustainability and growth within the sector in a way that is appropriate to the market in Midlothian and is responsive to social and economic trends.

7 SEAM Action Plan IOM Priority These outcomes have been set by the IOM subgroup of the Community Planning Partnership Address Poverty Relevant IOM Indicator(s)- These indicators have been agreed by the IOM group Reduce the % of working-age population on non-working benefits SEAM indicator These indicators have been agreed by SEAM where there are no relevant IOM indicators Job creation and maintenance within s SEAM Activity Outputs Measurement of success SEAM will support s to build capacity to tender for public or private sector contracts Five social enterprises to be supported More Midlothian s are competing for tendering opportunities Timeframe Increased rate of start ups One to one support and referral to appropriate start-up support for Five start-ups assisted Five start-ups still active by year end and seeking to grow Work with existing or new groups interested in asset ownership Work with ten groups with an interest in this area New groups expressing an interest or existing reporting increased capacity

8 Build community workforce/partners on health inequality Reduce the gap in life expectancy between the 30% most deprived areas in Midlothian and the average in Midlothian The number of disadvantaged communities offered better access to good quality food through social enterprise activities Assist and support the Midlothian Food and Health Alliance to implement its Action Plan No of community cafes assisted Community cafes engaging in the work of the Midlothian Food and Health Alliance and its projects To increase capacity amongst staff and volunteers involved in community cafes To run REHIS training The up-skilling of 7 participants Engagement with local employers Reduce the % of working age population on non-work benefits Work with employers to help sustain and grow Work with Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network (MFIN) and Midlothian Food and Health Alliance (FaHA) to establish a second forum around food producers SEAM to support social enterprises through business development training Agreement with MFIN and FaHA on support for a network of food producers Ten social enterprises to be supported Establishment of a new network Social enterprises report increased business following new marketing strategies and beyond Work with the private sector to encourage collaboration with SEAM to work with the Chamber of Commerce to promote joint working Two social enterprises receiving assistance with business projects Two social enterprises reporting improved business systems

9 Increase Positive Destinations for adults and young people % of school leavers with positive & sustained destinations (progressing to employment training further or higher education or volunteering Local project addressing issue of school leaver destinations To work with partners to raise awareness of as a destination One showcase event for those approaching school leaving age Minimum of ten young people better informed about carer routes in social enterprise Underpinning work N/A Raising the profile of local social enterprise projects Range of activities to raise the profile of local One video showcasing local Number of viewings Promoting networking/ collaboration between soc. ents Running a programme of networking events throughout the year Five networking events throughout the year Number of participants feeling better informed about local soc. ent Promoting awareness of support infrastructure for Supporting a series of e-bulletins throughout the year and establishing a social media presence 6 bulletins issued throughout the year and an active Twitter and FB presence To achieve a bulletin opening rate of over 25%; increase twitter followers to 200+ and FB to 70+ Building capacity within soc. ents to be more sustainable and enterprising, and to provide sustainable services 1-to-1 support including facilitation of strategic planning and provision of informal guidance via meetings and phone organisations supported. Organisations report that they feel able to access the locallybased support they need to continue and develop

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