First Local Impact Fund invests in literature and community cohesion in the UK

The Liverpool City Region Impact Fund – the UK’s first Local Impact Fund – has invested £320,000 in two social ventures operating in Merseyside. 

The Reader Organisation has received £70,000 and the Neighbourhood Services Company £250,000 from the £2m fund, which is made up of £1m investment from the European Regional Development Fund and £1m from the Social Investment Business Foundation. 

The Reader Organisation is a registered charity and social enterprise which brings people together through shared reading groups to improve personal wellbeing and community cohesion. It currently provides shared reading opportunities to 2,000 people across a variety of settings including prisons, mental health wards, care homes and schools.

The £70,000 investment will be used to refurbish and develop a ‘Story Barn’ to bring children together through literature. Craig Bentley, head of facilities at The Reader Organisation said, ‘The money will will create six full time jobs, increase business turnover by £170,000 and offer volunteering opportunities to local residents. 

“It will mean we can extend the accessibility of the project by installing a platform lift and making improvements on the site. Local families will have a place to bring their children where they can see stories brought to life.” 

The Neighbourhood Services Company is a Liverpool based social enterprise which operates in a number of different sectors including catering and building maintenance. It is focussed on improving local training and employment prospects and building community moral. 

CEO at the Neighbourhood Services Company Phil Knibb said: “This investment will deliver 12 new jobs, safeguard 40 jobs and generate approximately a £1.5m increase in business turnover.

“The investment will not only secure new jobs for Merseyside, but also deliver additional social value by providing young, unemployed people from disadvantaged communities the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and training.”

The Liverpool Fund offers unsecured loans of between £50,000 and £250,000 with repayment terms of up to five years at an interest rate of between 6-12% to charities and social enterprises based in Liverpool and surrounding areas including Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.

Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of the Social Investment Business (SIB), said: “The pilot fund is proving to be an important first step in bringing social investment to communities across in the UK.”

Analysis conducted by SIB into the expressions of interest for the Liverpool fund shows that the highest amount of interest came from organisations working in the employment, training or education sectors and the most popular purpose of investment was for growth capital to increase an organisation’s capacity.

Organisations based in the Liverpool region can still register their interest in the fund by completing an eligibility checker here


Photo credit: Stewart Butterfield