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The Big Life group

Organisation Summary

Business Sector:Cross sector

Business Activities:Employment, family support, homeless services, community health, primary care, mental health, childcare and volunteering

Business Location:North of England

Chief Executive:Fay Selvan

Turnover:£16m (2014)


Legal structure:Group: Companies Limited by Guarantee

The Big Life group

The Big Life group was formed in 2002 and became the first group of social businesses in the country. Its mission is to change the world by creating opportunities for people to change their lives; doing good business; improving what they do; and influencing others.

All the businesses and charities within the group share these objectives and work together to offer a comprehensive range of opportunities to help people turn their lives around and to support communities to grow and develop.

The group aims to demonstrate the added value that social businesses can offer, whether that’s in working with people who are homeless through The Big Issue in the North, establishing health and community resource centres, offering employment and training opportunities, offering locally based childcare and family support services, running a primary care and social support service – Open Door or helping people start up their own self help group and offering primary mental health services. Most recently, The Big Life group has been successful in securing its first Free School in the Longsight area of Manchester.

The businesses within the group are:

  • The Big Life Company
  • Big Life Families
  • Big Life Employment
  • The Big Issues in the North
  • The Big Issue in the North Trust
  • Open Door
  • Self Help Services
  • Big Life Centres
  • Longsight Community Primary

E3M Member

The Big Life group

Name:Fay Selvan

Title :CEO

Fay Selvan started working as a social entrepreneur in 1991, and established The Big Life group in 2002. Fay completed an Honours degree at Sussex University before moving to Manchester in 1980. She also achieved an MSc in Strategic Leadership in 2001 at Salford University.

In 1999 Fay was appointed Executive Sponsor for the Manchester, Salford and Trafford Health Action Zone. In 2001 she took up appointment as Chair of Trafford North Primary Care Trust (TNPCT) and led the Trust until taking up the Chair of Trafford Healthcare Trust (THT) in January 2006. in 2001 she Chaired the Trafford Children and Young peoples Board, leading it through development as a Pilot Children’s Trust; and in 2012 Fay took up post as a Non Executive Director on the Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS).

As a result of her work developing The Big Life group Fay won the Social Enterprise Leader Award for England in 2011.