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Lancashire social enterprises deliver during lockdown

Katherine Atha and Susan Frain Top Class Tuition e1607437795102

A group of organisations working to change Lancashire for the better have created more than 20 new jobs and grown their collective turnover by more than 40 per cent while delivering vital community support within the county during the lockdown period.

The ten fast-growing social enterprise organisations have gained 31 new projects and contracts worth around £738,000 to help to improve the opportunities of local and often disadvantaged Lancashire people, while working with a Lancashire County Council business scale-up programme.

The Two Zero Social Enterprise programme, delivered by Social Enterprise Lancashire Network (Selnet), was originally designed to give them the tools to continue to scale up and grow their reach in Lancashire. During coronavirus, it has helped them to improve business resilience while supporting thousands of Lancashire residents through the challenges of lockdown and creating future growth opportunities.

Watch our video about the success of the Social Enterprise progamme below: 

One company to benefit was Top Class Tuition CIC, which provides one to one and small group tuition, school-based interventions, teacher training and mentoring for pupils in Blackpool and the Fylde area.

Director Katherine Atha said: “The programme has really helped us to better understand our mission and how best to help the people of Lancashire. We have also gained the tools to ensure the organisation is running smoothly so we can focus on long-term sustainable growth.

“We now feel we have the skills and confidence to apply for future contracts as they arise and help more school pupils to reach their true potential in life.”

During the UK’s first national lockdown, Top Class Tuition decided to help young people who were away from classroom studies. The organisation created a fun learning booklet and partnered with food banks, local primary schools and a range of other organisations to distribute 2000 booklets across the Blackpool area.

Two Zero is fully funded service led by Lancashire County Council. Its purpose to help Lancashire’s fast-growing businesses to continue to scale up. Two Zero Social Enterprise began in early 2020 shortly before the county was hit by the economic effects of coronavirus.

In March, delivery partner Selnet changed the programme’s approach, helping the organisations to remain resilient and understand long-term goals while maximising the support they were providing to help Lancashire residents through lockdown. This included quality masterclasses, mentoring and tailored coaching.

This was initially delivered entirely online due to lockdown restrictions. However, toward the end of the programme some support was also delivered at clients’ sites. Another organisation to benefit from Two Zero Social Enterprise was Burnley-based Smile Mediation, a social enterprise which provides specialist training, coaching and mediation services across the North West. Karen Ainsworth, chief executive, Smile Mediation said:

“As a business we were at a tipping point. We were all working at, sometimes over, capacity. We couldn’t realistically sustain that and something needed to change. The programme came just at the right time for us to pursue scaling.”

The company has since created 10 new jobs. It has also received funding from the Community Foundation for Lancashire to deliver a new service supporting local people including professionals suffering panic attacks and vulnerable people struggling with mental health issues.

The organisations which took part in the programme were: Communicate SLT, Divine Days, HIS Provision, The Larder, New Era Enterprises, Shape Lancashire, Smile Mediation, Trust House Lancashire, Top Class Tuition, Veterans in Communities. While working with Two Zero, they have increased their own turnover by an average of 40 per cent to an estimated total of £5.4 million. They created 21 new jobs, protected 107 and created 123 new volunteering opportunities in Lancashire.

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