Ben Wrigley, investment manager in our ventures team, reflects on Resonance and our client Smile Together CIC, winning the Social Enterprise UK Award “Social Investment Deal of the Year”.
I was really delighted that our deal with Smile Together was shortlisted for the SEUK awards. Sponsored by Big Society Capital, the Social Investment Deal of the Year aims to celebrate an organization that has been part of a great investment deal in the last twelve months that has helped a social enterprise to grow or the movement as a whole to develop and flourish. And that is certainly the case with Smile Together, an employee owned social enterprise providing dentistry with impact across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. They are particularly impactful and have found ways to deliver dentistry to some hard to reach groups and communities, with some innovative programmes such as:
Brighter Smiles, tooth brushing clubs in schools - Teeth extraction is the main cause for children, under the age of ten, being operated on under general anaesthetic - which is totally preventable. Unfortunately, some of the children - often in deprived areas of Cornwall - only have access to a toothbrush at school, provided by the “Brighter Smiles” team alongside a fun classroom activity getting children to look after their teeth, gums and mouth.
Mobile dentistry - The Smile Together team takes to the road every summer in a mobile dental unit for several weeks bringing dental care to hard to reach communities - mainly fishermen and their families.
The deal was a little tricky. The Smile Together team wanted to run a specialist dental facility that would be accessible to those with disability and those with special needs such as autism as well as other vulnerable patients. They purchased an old school building in Bodmin to convert, and needed to raise social investment to pay for the refurbishment to best-in-class-standards enabling them to meet their patients’ enhanced needs and requirements. However, specialist property development and renovation in Cornwall is a difficult market due to relatively low building values and high development costs, which render high specification health care developments unsuitable for senior debt/mortgage.
The Resonance ventures team worked with Smile Together to get them ready to take on social investment, advising on the best options. Big Issue Invest made a £1m loan to the company, providing the last piece of the puzzle and making their vision a reality. The facility opened on time and within budget and is successfully up and running.
Vikki Johnson, who is the Smile Together commercial and operations manager and her colleague Alison Cane joined the Resonance team at the awards event in London, hosted in the stunning Guildhall in the city. She said: “My role sees me manage a number of major commercial projects on behalf of Smile Together and taking on a former grammar school, which required significant building renovation and redevelopment to transform it into a brand new, purpose designed and accessible dental centre for our community certainly took some doing, but it’s massively enhanced the clinical environment for our patients and our colleagues. It’s been a tremendous team effort which extends to all the partners who have and continue to support us. To win this national award is a real accolade and we’re so proud that Resonance chose to enter the awards with Smile Together – Ali and I had the most wonderful, special evening. You don’t appreciate the magnitude of these glittering awards nor how important they are to the social enterprise sector, until you’re sitting there in such good company!”
These national awards, recognize excellence and outstanding achievements by social enterprises. From tackling poverty and the climate emergency to reducing homelessness, social enterprises are taking on some of the biggest challenges faced by the world, using their profits to change lives and protect the planet. One hundred thousand of these businesses in the UK contribute £60 billion to the economy and employ two million people. Resonance enters awards to raise the profile of issues being tackled by our inspirational social enterprise clients.
I was very impressed with the awards event, which included an inventive vegetarian menu (including a tasty mushroom lasagne) provided by The Clink (a social enterprise that trains prisoners in catering and horticulture), setting the tone for a night celebrating all things social enterprise, from the great food to the amazing nominees across fourteen categories. All the goods and services on the night were supplied by social enterprises, from the rigging and drinks to the floral centrepieces and goody bags, making it a real social enterprise supply chain in action. Even our winner’s trophy, was made by Designs in Mind, which employs people with mental health issues.
The speakers - Peter Holbrook CBE (CEO of SEUK), Lord Victor Adebowale CBE (Chair of SEUK) and Andy Burnham (Mayor of Greater Manchester) were passionate and inspirational, and clearly huge supporters and believers in our shared desire and ability to do business differently. The sponsors of the event, including pwc, Deloitte, Johnson &Johnson, Santander and Linklaters clearly demonstrated how much progress has been made and how seriously the mainstream commercial sector (and city accountants and lawyers) are taking social enterprise as a rising force in the way businesses are owned and operated. The Reverend Richard Coles hosted the awards ceremony. He’s funny, but also a passionate supporter of social enterprise - working with impact driven businesses in his parish to solve problems and help people.
I genuinely didn’t think we would win, even though my client is a truly exceptional, pioneering and impactful healthcare provider. Our category was ninth out of fourteen, and it was as the awards were handed out that I got increasingly nervous. What if we did win? I’ve never been nominated for anything before - and visions of a comical trip up some stairs or even a fall off the stage started to intrude. The rest is a blur, but I hopefully said something that people understood and did justice to the fantastic social enterprise, Smile Together, that I’ve had the luck and pleasure to work with on this deal.
Resonance is delighted to have won a second award in as many months. Our North West SITR Fund won the Worthstone Impact Investment Award “New Product Launch 2019” for the second year running.
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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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