One year ago, seven budding social entrepreneurs answered the call and joined a new programme in Skelmersdale to help them kick start their social businesses. Since then, the group has met monthly with the School for Social Entrepreneurs programme (SSE) supporting them to develop their social business ideas, aimed at improving a community or tackling a social issue.
All seven have now completed the course and recently graduated at a fabulous celebratory event held at Lancashire Manor Hotel, Skelmersdale. As well as celebrating the end of the programme, the event looked at the many ways social businesses can help the communities they work in. Lisa Mariah Head of SSE outlined why this programme is different – and why social businesses are important: ‘SSE is not about your business plan but about you as a person – your qualities and resilience. Social businesses strive to make profits, but are different in how they use those profits. They are leaders in employing the most disadvantaged, and in transforming local neighbourhoods into dynamic communities where people can thrive.’
Kathryn Kavanagh, Health Inequalities Lead at West Lancashire CCG, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the School of Social Entrepreneurs and supported the development of a group of Social Innovators, who through their social enterprise activity will trade and work towards tackling some of the greatest social challenges that Skelmersdale communities face. We will all benefit greatly from their success”
The entrepreneurs all spoke highly of the support and guidance the SSE programme has given them in developing their business ideas:
- ‘It’s been an enormous help – I wouldn’t have got to this stage if it wasn’t for the course’
- ‘I had the ideas but the course provided the knowledge to progress – it’s inspired me’
- ‘It is one of the best programmes I have ever been on (and I’ve been on a lot!). It’s exceptional’
- ‘The action learning was phenomenal. It unblocks the negativity of an academic way. I got so much done in the days following!’
- ‘Never met such an amazing group of people. We’ve all learnt from each other being at different stages of the journey’
The graduates are now matched with a peer mentor who supports them for the next 12 months. They are bursting with enthusiasm and now armed with the knowledge and resilience to put it into practice, they’ll hit the ground running with their businesses. As Lisa says ‘this group of social entrepreneurs is wonderful, innovative and disruptive’. One thing’s for sure, these entrepreneurs will help kickstart a raft of new social businesses to benefit the town and we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future!
Here’s the exciting new businesses to watch out for in Skelmersdale this year!:
Grace Vella : : MissKick
MissKick is a clothing brand specifically for girls and women who play football. £1 of every sale goes towards supporting girls grassroots football initiatives. The aim for MissKick is to be more than just a clothing brand and create football academies and tournaments.
“I want to give local girls a chance to engage with sport and give them the best opportunity, lead a healthy lifestyle and create friendships and memories as I have’
Jacqui Sutton : : Power of Music
Power of Music delivers music and singing sessions designed to help people and families living with a long term health condition such as dementia, Parkinsons, COPD, stroke and mental health. It is based on a social prescribing model.
“Music can facilitate positive changes in emotional well-being. The power of music, especially singing to unlock memories and kick start the grey matter is an increasingly key feature of dementia care.”
Gwen Bleasdale : : Sparks Ltd
Sparks Ltd delivers personal development programmes, where people are empowered to work on and deal with the issues affecting them, build resilience and self esteem so that they transform their futures in life-affirming ways, achieving economic and personal independence.
“Sparks is part of a programme of sustainability for the Liberty Centre, the domestic abuse charity for West Lancashire, with profits funding essential work to support women, men and children who are living with the trauma of domestic abuse”.
Michael Mason : : Life’s Bigger Pictures
Life’s Bigger Pictures run a series of presentations, programmes and other initiatives aimed at improving people’s health and well-being, and their aspirations and outlooks. These will be easy to access and based within the schools and the community.
“I want people from our more disadvantaged communities to realise that being happy and content is important and not a luxury for others.”
Laura Scott : : Biophilia Designs Ltd
Biophilia Designs is a social enterprise business that provides nature inspired products to promote well-being. Taking care of each other and ourselves are the core beliefs of Biophilia Designs.
“Our goal is to offer specialist information, aimed initially at women. Our offer will be an alternative to cheap throw away fashion, our clothing will be produced by the community for the community.”
Catherine Carmichael : : Artisans and Partisans
Artisans and Partisans is a showcase for the talent, enterprise and artistry that exists in Skelmersdale. It is a socially inclusive locally sustainable business with a small carbon footprint.
“This makers market is different to all of the other makers markets because its mission is to promote the well-being, prosperity and health of Skelmersdale residents. It will also seek to develop a Skelmersdale identity which is inclusive and celebrates diversity.”
Gemma Barton : : Mind Train
Mind Train CIC supports children and young people to become compassionate, resilient and powerful citizens by teaching mindfulness and well‐being courses in schools and community centres.
“Our sessions teach skills that help children to survive and thrive in today’s demanding world”.
For further information on how to set up a Social Enterprise and make a social impact on your community or how to join the School for Social Entrepreneurs contact Paula Gamester at the Sewing Rooms.