A social enterprise that does what?! #whoknew

Nick Temple of Social Enterprise UK explains the thinking behind the new #whoknew campaign.

It's crucial as a membership organisation to get out and meet our members, understand their situation and needs, and to try and then help wherever we can.

What this means is that we are out and about a lot as a team – through our Social Enterprise Places work (there are now 18 across the country), through our health programmes (in over 30 local areas), through Big Potential (17 events across England) and through lots of individual visits, speeches and meetings. To be an effective national body, we have to be national and that means working through and with partners and members across the UK.

Hopefully, what that engagement gives us as an organisation is insight and collective intelligence on the variety and diversity of the social enterprise movement, which never ceases to amaze.

There are social enterprises in almost every part of our economy and almost every industry segment, but still awareness can be relatively low. That's why we will be asking the question "Did you know?" to as many audiences as possible, and using the #whoknew hashtag to spread the word.

For starters, here's an amazing group of social enterprises operating in children's services, events, retail, car-sharing, interpreting, woodworking, and patient feedback. From Birmingham to Bradford, from Dorset to Durham, they're changing people's lives and their worlds for the better. Now you know...
1) Five Rivers Care - a social enterprise that, since 1989, has been working with 'looked-after' children, those in need of specialist placements, support and care. Five Rivers now works across fostering, residential care, specialist schools, crisis intervention and assessment and therapy, across England and Ireland.

2) BH Live - BH Live is a leisure trust that run a range of venues, including the Bournemouth International Centre and the Pyramids in Portsmouth. It also has a successful catering business which works with GLL in the Olympic Park venues as well as elsewhere… and a ticketing arm which is not only for their own events but increasingly for other organisations' too

3) Growth Rings - This is a newer social enterprise, but one with 70 years of sawmilling experience behind it. It specialises in the oak restoration of some of Britain's historic and unique properties... combining that with a social purpose of providing employment opportunities and support to those who wouldn't get the chance otherwise (particularly those coming out of addiction). 

4) Patient Opinion (& Care Opinion) - A social enterprise which gives different parts of the health and care system an independent platform and opportunity to collect and respond to patient feedback. With a business model that has had to evolve with the healthcare landscape, Patient Opinion celebrated a decade of activity last year and with the health system becoming more and more designed around the patient, their role should only grow in the years to come.

5) Enable 2 - Based in Bradford, Enable 2 is unique amongst those social enterprises that spun out of the NHS in that it delivers interpreting and translation services. Having built an excellent track record of delivery, it is now providing a range of interpreting services. This is ever more important, given the cosmopolitan nature of many areas and people for whom English is not a first language. So far for Enable 2 has seen 110 languages spoken, almost three million face-to-face minutes undertaken, 2,500 customers and provided work to 300 interpreters. 

6) Co-Wheels - Car sharing has grown significantly in the UK in recent years, but predominantly in the wealthier larger cities. Co-Wheels have set out to make the same opportunity and possibility available in other areas, where more purely commercial operators might not go. They've expanded from their beginnings in the north-east across the UK, won awards and taken investment to grow their impact further; and expanded into vans, e-bikes and more....

7) Citizen Coaching - Martin Hogg is one of those great social entrepreneurs who make things happen; starting Citizen Coaching in 2005 to give more people access to counselling, therapy and anger management, he and his team have expanded the business to Birmingham Counselling Services, Citizen Click (a web-design agency) and, most recently, Citizen Home, a shop in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham stocking social enterprise and ethical products... as well as continuing to provide employment & apprenticeship opportunities.