The sheer resilience and determination of social enterprises has shone through this year. Many of them are on the COVID-19 frontline, serving the most vulnerable in our communities. And that’s why the Social Enterprise Support Fund was crucial to help them adapt to the new reality.
Resonance established the The Social Enterprise Support Fund (SESF) along with five partners: Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, the School for Social Entrepreneurs and UnLtd in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund.
Thanks to National Lottery players, £18.7 million of National Lottery funding has been committed to the fund to be used to provide grants to social enterprise organisations that are best placed to support local, vulnerable communities in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The final round
The third and final round of the SESF closed on 17 September, following previous rounds in July and August. Spreading the application deadlines and award budget across three rounds, along with a straight forward online application process, allowed the grant program to be accessible to social enterprises large and small, and ensure our commitment to inclusivity and diversity. As a consortium we received over 1,300 applications from a vast range of social enterprises delivering hugely diverse social impact across England. By 19 October, we will have distributed £18.7m to over 500 social enterprises.
Here at Resonance, we received applications, from social enterprises all across England, from Cornwall to Newcastle, from these applications, one thing was clear to us: social enterprises are adaptable, resilient, and determined… they just need the right support. From creating socially distanced versions of their services, to encouraging more outdoor activities, connecting virtually with their communities via Zoom, or to delivering supplies to those who need it most, social enterprises are stepping up when it matters most.
After this third and final round of applications, we are on course to have given out £3.2m worth of funding to nearly 120 social enterprises who needed it most, and who are often keeping critical services running.
Resonance typically invests in social enteprises and charities with repayable capital but realised that these unprecedented times required an unprecedented response. Creating the SESF has meant we’ve been able to help the social enterprise and charity sector to continue to support their communities in crisis. Doing this was made possible by the combined experience and reach of the group of partners we worked with on the fund, as well as the all important support of The National Lottery Community Fund.
I know that the hard work and determination we’ve seen from social enterprises and social entrepreneurs through this difficult period has been a source of inspiration to all of us, as well as the communities they serve.
Social enterprises are on the frontline – ESG investing is more important than ever
Social enterprises are known to thrive on challenge and adapt quickly to new and often demanding situations. So, as our communities across the country begin to recover from the strains of lockdown, social enterprises are coming to the forefront, offering specialism and support. And that’s why investors, now more than ever, are thinking about the greater social good they can do with their money. I’ve been excited to see the significant rise in ESG investments recently. Because now is the time to think about how your money can do much more than just get a return: it can help people in crisis and can tackle the long-term social and environmental problems that were apparent even before the COVID-19 crisis.
But enough from us…
…let’s hear from a few of the social enterprises which have been awarded grants.
Hollywell Housing Trust supports people with disabilities and mental health issues secure safe supported housing, helping them to live independently and thrive in a community. Receiving a grant from the SESF was essential for them to continue their groundbreaking work. “Being able to access this grant means that we are able to finally start looking to the future after the last three months, having had to press pause on our provision of new homes for some of the most vulnerable in society,” says Katie Sherjan, Hollywell’s Chief Executive. “It will also enable us to provide resources to support our tenants with mental health issues.”
Black Country based enterprise Challenge Academy was one of the first organisations to receive investment from our West Midlands SITR Fund. So we were excited to help them deliver their outdoor learning activities with their SESF grant funding. Mel Ellis, founder of Challenge Academy, was hard at work throughout lockdown to adapt their services to a new normal. “We have spent lockdown creating a revised ‘Bags of Character’ facilitator’s manual to accommodate social distancing and 80% of the BOC activities can now be undertaken and positive outcomes achieved whilst keeping people safe. The Social Enterprise Support funding will be used to deliver 30 ‘Bags of Character’ and associated training to crucial organisations across the Black Country that will be instrumental in building communities after the COVID pandemic.”
There’s no doubt that this pandemic has been tough for social enterprises all across the country. But we’re backing social enterprises which are continuing to support the most vulnerable within their communities, and showing that the social enterprise model is going to be an ever more important one in aligning purpose and profit.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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