Enterprising South West Health & Wellbeing Organizations Receive £5m Boost

A new £5m fund is announced today in the region. The launch of the Health & Wellbeing Challenge Fund (South West) marks a unique partnership led by two South West organizations aiming to finance charities and social enterprises in the health and wellbeing sector, which find new ways to solve challenges on a local basis.

The South West has one of the highest concentrations of social enterprises and community based businesses in the country, with organizations in this sector being the most represented. However, all too often, funding is not available at the size and terms that make it feasible for social enterprises to grow.

The Fund will help to address this by offering organizations a mixture of grants and loans, to help them turn their best ideas into impactful solutions to big issues like dementia, diabetes, obesity, depression and enabling older people to live more independent and fulfilling lives.

Tarn Lamb, Chief Executive of Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change said: “We are excited to have a fund dedicated to our region and in a sector that is increasingly demonstrating an ability to innovate for the benefit of society. To date it has been particularly difficult to get access to affordable loans without assets to secure them against and with many investors not interested in this end of the investment market – this fund will help address the demand from organizations such as mine.”

This innovative concept is the result of more than a year’s collaboration between Resonance, a national social investment company headquartered in Cornwall; and the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) – a regional partnership of universities, local authorities and other organizations. The Fund is also partly based on research commissioned by SW AHSN into the best ways charities and social enterprises can tackle health and wellbeing issues[1].

Jon Siddall, Director of Innovation at SW AHSN said: “Our recently published report1 highlighted the potential for charities and social enterprises to play an important role in future models of health and care. This Fund will help realise this opportunity, supporting these organizations to develop innovative, person-centred responses to the needs of our population.”

It is a fund for the people of the South West, run by organizations based here, with the potential to be adopted in other parts of the UK if it goes well; a great example of leading innovation on our doorstep.

The Fund aims to support small social enterprises with big ideas to make even more of an impact in the region.  Big ideas can come from anywhere, for example: using “social” prescribing instead of medication to help reduce depression; helping a beach school or care farm to expand and help even more vulnerable young people in a wider geographic area; or supporting people with long term health issues to manage their pain in new and innovative ways.  The possibilities are endless.

Resonance, which specialises in designing and managing impact investment funds responding to the investment needs of social enterprises, will be managing the Fund.

Daniel Brewer, Managing Director of Resonance said: “There is a significant opportunity for local organizations to play a key role in evolving the regional health and wellbeing system here in the South West. This Fund will help to increase the social impact and financial sustainability of those helping to make a difference in this sector”.

The money will come from SW AHSN and the Access Foundation (a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital), so represents a mix of money from: the public sector; National Lottery players; and dormant bank accounts (where the money has been untouched for 15 years or more and the account holder can’t be traced).

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of the Access Foundation said “Social Investment presents an opportunity for many charities and social enterprises to grow and help more people. Access is committed to supporting charities and social enterprises to access capital more easily. This fund, and the strong partnership which sits behind it, is ideally placed to make a real impact on health and wellbeing across the region.”

Could this help your organization?

Resonance is now asking for organizations in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to get in touch with “big ideas” that could transform care with the right financial backing.  Veryan Young, Resonance’s Investment Manager for the new Fund can be contacted at:



[1] Innovation in Health and Care: the Opportunity for VCSEs – a South West Perspective, Good Economy Partnership, 2016. Available at http://www.swahsn.com/sw-social-enterprise-and-community-sector-to-drive-health-and-care-service-change/