Widening Our Impact as the Health & Wellbeing Challenge Fund Gains Momentum

These past couple of months have been a good time to be working on the Health and Wellbeing Challenge Fund. The Fund has been gaining a name for itself and with more and more people talking about what we are doing, the number and range of enterprises taking investment from the Fund has taken off.

We recently announced two deals of £150,000, into Quovita and NEDCare.  Both are CICs which are operating in the domiciliary care market, however, they are both breaking the mould in the market in different ways.  Quovita is using modern technology to link self-employed carers to clients across the South West, whilst NEDCare found the strength of community need for good local services a strong incentive to create a community led care service which addresses the market failure to provide CQC registered services in North East Devon.

Somerset Local Food is an interesting additional borrower from the Fund.  Recently completed, this £75,000 loan allows a passionate community group from the Glastonbury area to ensure that an existing door-to-door fresh food service continues to operate. In doing this, the group is going to be using the investment to champion the benefits of eating healthily, understanding where food comes from, and using local produce to connect up isolated people in rural communities.

In addition to our larger deals, it has been nice to offer some of our innovative ‘launchpad’ loans, which enable enterprises to test a new market or product with a small investment before they take on a larger loan as they grow.  Memory Matters (dementia café), Led By Dreams (domestic abuse training), Dangerous Dads (fun activities for fathers and male carers with children), Danu Blue (social and therapeutic horticulture project and Par Track (community sport assets) are all in this early stage of growth, which is challenging and exciting at the same time and we are glad to be supporting them through it.

As well as these new deals, we are happy to watch as existing borrowers go from strength to strength.

Hollywell Housing Trust, our first borrower, continues to grow and expand its housing provision for adults with learning disabilities.  Its ongoing success has been a real inspiration for others as we witnessed at the RIO and Big Society Capital event in Poole in June.  Karrek Community is also flourishing and continues to see its service demand grow, while Keep Cornwall Fed has such a strong order book this summer the team is going to be working flat out to be able to meet demand.

Plus, we received positive end of year feedback from our borrowers as we look to collect information for our annual impact report which will be published in September.

So, collectively, this has been a very busy couple of months.  It’s been great having Leila Sharland join me on the team in April.  Leila brings a wealth of experience and has really grasped what we are trying to achieve with the Fund.  Together we are looking forward to supporting more enterprises to increase their social impact across the region in a sustainable way.

Tom Crook, Senior Investment Analyst
Health & Wellbeing Challenge Fund (South West)