First Social Investment Tax Relief Fund Makes First Investment

The Resonance Bristol Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund – the first fund of its kind – has made its first investment into the South Bristol Sports Centre (SBSC), a charity using the power of sport to break down community barriers and offer young people life changing opportunities.

This is an exciting milestone for the Fund and for Bristol, as Resonance and a group of angel investors come together to back social enterprises tackling poverty in the city’s most deprived communities. This is the first of many investments being made by the Fund to help social enterprises scale-up their impact, after the Fund reached £1.3m in February, on its way to a total investment target of £5m.

The £250,000 from the Fund was the final piece of investment that SBSC needed to build its new all-weather 5-a-side football pitches – a new, state of the art facility enabling their unique programme of sport as a route out of disadvantage and poverty.

Billy Downes, 23, is one of those that has benefited from SBSC’s programmes over a number of years – “South Bristol Sports Centre has helped me use football to get away from my troubled background and get back in a classroom – a place I hated. I’ve now completed a number of FA coaching qualifications and have become a professional coach. I pride myself in being able to inspire children and build relationships to help them develop – not only in sport, but as people – and I specialise in working with the ‘hard to reach children’, as I have been there and can relate. I’m now also supporting SBSC’s new “FutureFIVES” programme, a Youth Council giving young people a voice to design and deliver their own sessions on brand new football pitches. Then we can find out what they are really interested in and support their development through that – which is what got me to where I am today.”

Home to eight of the ten most deprived areas in Bristol, all of which are in the 1% of the country’s most deprived areas, South Bristol is an area that Resonance is particularly committed to investing in through the SITR Fund. SBSC is a charity that has this mission at its core; using the power of sport to engage vulnerable young people in positive activity, develop their talents, help increase their confidence and explore how to turn their passion for sport into a career. Through coaching and leadership programmes held at the site, a number of local young people have become qualified referees and coaches, with some now going on to lead sessions for younger groups who share their background and aspirations. The programmes have proven their worth and SBSC now want to invest in more facilities to grow and scale their impact.

As well as the dedicated use for their engagement programmes, which are offered to vulnerable groups free of charge, the new pitches will also enable SBSC to generate the income they need to remain financially sustainable, by hiring them out to adult football leagues in the late evening.

James Edwards, Football Development Officer at SBSC said, “This is a really exciting time for South Bristol Sports Centre. This investment will provide us with the opportunity and the platform to not only increase the provision for young people in the community, but more importantly to work more closely with them and build strong relationships to help them develop their skills, confidence and aspirations.”

The deal was also a brilliant example of the power of collaboration: bringing together a number of socially-motivated lenders, from individual investors to impact funds, to reach the £900,000 total investment required. Bristol and Bath Regional Capital (BBRC) acted as advisor to SBSC on the overall financing, ensuring it could raise the total amount of capital it needed with a complimentary mix of funding; a partnership Resonance is proud to be part of. Edward Rowberry, Chief Executive of BBRC, said, “We are delighted to have worked with Resonance on this deal, and that we could ensure SBSC were able to make use of the Social Investment Tax Relief through the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund. We look forward to BBRC and Resonance working together again to secure investment for many more organisations having a positive social impact across Bristol and Bath.”

It is this commitment to helping social enterprises access finance on the terms they need that has seen Resonance incorporate Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) into this latest impact fund. SITR enables social enterprises to access more affordable, more patient finance, from individuals that share in their social mission, whilst still offering investors a return that reflects the risk. For many enterprises, this is the missing link that can help them access the finance they need to scale their social impact. For many investors, the tax relief puts social investment on a level playing field (or, perhaps in this case, a level all-weather football pitch) with their other investment opportunities, encouraging them to commit more investment to the issues they care about.

The Fund will remain open for eligible investors throughout 2016 with the aim of raising a total of £5m this year, and will then grow further in response to both the need for investment from social enterprises in Bristol and investor demand.

Daniel Brewer, Managing Director of Resonance, explained the significance of this first deal from the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund: “This first deal showcases just one of the many organisations contributing to Bristol’s vibrant social enterprise market – tackling a wide range of issues from homelessness to food poverty – that are now able to access the investment they need to scale the brilliant work that they do. The Resonance team are already in discussions with an additional 26 Bristol-based social enterprises in need of the kind of investment offered through the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund. We expect to announce a second investment later this month and another in early May.”