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How did E3M support social enterprise in public services in 2023?

Date: 29.12.23 |Categories: Featured |Tags: , , ,

Some of the Vitalising Purpose authors at the launch

E3M-Suara exchange in Barcelona

As 2023 draws to its conclusion, we’d like to reflect on a year filled with a real variety of events, achievements and activities, all contributing to how E3M support social enterprise in public services.

The first event for our Social Enterprise Leaders’ Club in January was an online session on Cyber Risk Awareness led by E3M partner Zurich, before the Bold Commissioners’ Club got together for their first meeting and dinner, to look at how social investment can support models of care.

Early in February, the Leaders’ Club annual Away Day was the opportunity for a mix of ca. 20 members and core partner representatives to assemble in Sheffield for 24 hours of stimulating discussion and peer support, and to set the tone and agenda for the rest of the year. This is a highlight for many of our members, as borne out by feedback, such as:

  • “Thanks – really useful days, personally and I am sure corporately.”
  • “Great event. Thank you!”
  • “Always interested in learning from international best practice.”

A hot topic for many of our members was the Social Value Portal, leading to another online session in April, at which negative experiences of social value scoring were discussed. This was in addition to the core programme roundtable meetings and dinners in March, September and November, covering subjects such as:

  • how corporates/private businesses can work with social enterprises, going beyond traditional CSR into partnerships for impact
  • how social enterprises can demonstrate their positive difference through their employment practices
  • managing risk and maintaining resilience in an era of perpetual crisis
  • navigating immigration law when tackling staffing shortages (covered by E3M partner Stone King)
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Discussions at our Bold Commissioners’ Club quarterly meetings are similarly member-led and, this year, included topics as diverse as:

  • support for carers
  • Integrated Care Systems
  • VCSE infrastructure
  • developing a new approach to integrated commissioning
  • catalytic capital and why it is a powerful tool for supporting social enterprise to deliver long term social impact
  • Alliance contracting
  • development of a substance misuse pathway

The newest addition to the family, the Funders’ Group enjoyed a hybrid programme of events; two online and two presential meetings hosted by E3M partner Buzzacott. This group of likeminded social investors covered, among other things:

  • place-based investment
  • community wealth hubs
  • Local Access – a long-term social economy development programme, developed jointly by Access and Big Society Capital

Three very different events held this year combined all three groups to explore and/or promote how E3M support social enterprise in public services. First, there was April’s webinar on how social investment can support commissioners to improve local services; in May an Alchemy event brought together social enterprise leaders, bold commissioners and funders in Croydon to share experience and work together with its council staff and local stakeholders to find solutions to some of its challenges; then, in June, our Partnerships for Impact seminar explored how social enterprises can work in partnership with the public and private sectors, with social investors, and with other social enterprises and charities to achieve impact and transform lives.

As if the three E3M groups’ core programmes and complementary events weren’t enough, 2023 also saw the publication of the book that was one of the outcomes of last year’s 10-year anniversary celebrations, and a very successful innovation.

The book Vitalising Purpose outlines the power of the social enterprise difference in public services. Authored by E3M, it combines contributions from social enterprise leaders, bold commissioners and other experts in the field to investigate how partnerships between public authorities and social enterprises can make a difference to how public services are provided, and to people’s lives. Arguably the most poignant contribution is, however, from one of the beneficiaries of a partnership that resulted from a previous E3M Alchemy event. Vanessa endured horrifying conditions in her Gainsborough home which she rented from a private landlord. In the book, she describes the positive transformation in her life since P3, a charity and social enterprise working in partnership with West Lindsey District Council, became her landlord.

The innovation was the exchange programme with Suara Co-operative, Spain’s largest Care Co-operative, based in Barcelona. This exchange was a further development of E3M’s relationship with Suara, which has previously comprised online meetings such as the one outlined here. In October, 23 delegates from Barcelona visited services run by E3M member organisations in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and London, while in November, 25 UK delegates visited Suara and some of its services in Catalonia. A huge success, the outcomes are still being processed, so watch this space! In the meanwhile, a couple of comments from the very positive feedback given by those who took part is a rather lovely way to sign off this review:

  • “A very interesting experience that opened our minds to continue collaborating and thinking about how to care for people.”
  • “A wonderful opportunity and fantastic exchange – I have already been thinking about ways we can embed some of the ideas shared.”

Wrapping up one year highlights all the work to be done in the next, so please keep an eye out for further developments in how E3M support social enterprise in public services for maximum social impact.