East Anglia: Eastern Enterprise Hub to host School for Social Entrepreneurs’ ‘Global Away Day’

THE Eastern Enterprise Hub will welcome social enterprise leaders from across the UK as it hosts a major conference later this week.

The hub, which is based in Ipswich and holds the franchise for the School for Social Entrepreneurs in the East of England, is the venue for a Global Away Day tomorrow and Thursday, which will also see social enterprise leaders from countries as far afield as Australia and Canada join in proceedings via the internet.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs was founded in 1997 by Michael Young, a social innovator previously involved in the launch of organisations including the Consumers’ Association and the Open University.

Since it was set up early in 2011, 35 new social enterprises have emerged from the School for Social Entrepreneurs – East, accounting for a combined turnover of nearly �22million and employing more than 730 people.

The school has developed a reputation for being at the forefront of innovative social enterprise learning and is playing a significant role in the development of the sector across the region.


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“Far from being at the softer end of the business spectrum, social enterprise is serious business with the same profit and loss concerns as any other, often trading in challenging, hard to reach sections of society,” said Harry Berry, chairman of the Eastern Enterprise Hub (EE Hub).

“They have to trade profitably but these profits will be ploughed back into addressing the core social purpose. Social enterprise businesses are sustainable, inspire those around them and often change attitudes and influence policy.

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“We see social enterprise as a vital force across the region for social, economic and community good – as the EE Hub is an organisation that drives positive, sustainable economic growth, it is our role to support early stage social entrepreneurs as much as we can.”

The sector is attracting attention from the wider business community with regional law firm Prettys a sponsor of SSE – East, accountants PricewaterhousCoopers supporting the sector nationally and the country-wide Lloyds Banking Group School for Social Entrepreneurs Programme having been launched earlier this year.

Social enterprises mirror the wider business landscape, with small, medium and larger organisations represented. Among those to have worked with the EE Hub are Allied Health Professions Suffolk, Leading Lives, Autism & ADHD, Lofty Heights and ActivLives.

Allied Health Professionals, headed by chief executive Jo Douglas, AHP has operated independently as a community interest company (CIC) since being formed in July 2011 following an NHS tender process.

With the services it offers to patients increasing, AHP Suffolk provides out-patient physiotherapy across the county. It employs 87 staff members from 17 clinic bases across Suffolk, with a turnover of �2.1m and a forecast of �2.5m to the end of the current financial year, an increase of around 20%.

The primary commissioner is NHS Suffolk, but AHP also provides musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy to the prison service through a five-year contract with Care UK and support to residential and nursing homes through BUPA.

AHP has already made an impact across Suffolk, with a saving of �260,000 to the NHS on hip replacements and a 600% increase in web referrals resulting in patients receiving advice within hours rather than months. There are plans to expand services into Essex, Cambridge and Norfolk.

Although it is a new organisation, Leading Lives is already one of the biggest social enterprises in the East of England. employing more than 450 people and providing comprehensive support services to adults with learning disabilities across Suffolk, enabling them to live the life they choose in their community.

Leading Lives was set up by the former Supporting Families management team, in response to the county council’s desire to externalise its service provision. Leading Lives operates against the background of significant financial reductions, migration to personal budgets and changing customer demand.

Operating out of seven community hubs, a further four community units and two older people’s well-being units, the organisation provides services to more than 1,000 customers and supports close to 300 family carers for planned respite in an additional five short break respite units.

Autism & ADHD is headed by Annie Clements who has more than 20 years’ experience, both personal and professional, of young people with Autism, ADHD or mental health problems.

Working with families and with young people in schools and colleges, her social enterprise Autism and ADHD has developed the nationally-acclaimed “We Have a Voice” project to be a real catalyst for change in the way these young people are perceived and received in the community.

A team of young volunteers (all diagnosed with ADHD, mental health problems or as being on the autistic spectrum) are creating and managing a multimedia platform comprising of a magazine, radio station, TV station, website and music.

This platform represents a safe space for them to explore the challenges they face and the feelings they have around their diagnosis as well as being fun. Successfully piloted in Suffolk, it is being extended across the UK.

Lofty Heights is a social business set up by Olive Quinton to provide a loft emptying service for a predominantly elderly customer base to enable the installation of effective loft insulation so people benefit from warmer homes and reduced heating costs.

As well as a loft emptying service, the company aims to provide high quality training, personal development and employment opportunities for young people and has created employment for five previously unemployed youngsters with plans to take on more.

Lofty Heights is also about to enter into a partnership agreement with a loft insulation provider, contacting the company to carry out the full loft emptying and insulation service, creating more employment for young people.

ActivLives, previously known as the Town & Bridge Project, is now an independent charity, providing a wide range of services to people across Ipswich and Suffolk to enable them to improve and maintain good physical and mental health.

It is the case of a small organisation having a big impact with a broad base of activities that includes walking, singing and gardening, to bring people of all ages together to keep them active, independent and connected with their community.

Through taking part in these activities, people develop new friendships and social networks improving their overall well-being and quality of life, ultimately reducing referrals for more specialist support.

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