The School for the Environment was the first of its kind in Sheffield to bring together all those offering training opportunities in environmental related fields, and to offer an electronic prospectus that encapsulated volunteering opportunities, careers advice, job vacancies and BME role models through case studies. The resource developed provides a one-stop shop for anybody wanting information on environmental opportunities in Sheffield. This work was particularly beneficial in being able to target BME communities – currently underrepresented in the wide range of environmental related industries and jobs.
Social Enterprise Action Planning frameworks and processes developed under the EQUAL programme proved particularly useful, vis-a-vis tender readiness considerations for social enterprises. Essentially, these provided organisational MOTs, ensuring they were fit for purpose and better able to take advantage of procurement and bidding opportunities.
The tender readiness toolkit element of this process is gaining recognition and becoming more widely adopted and used as a developmental tool for social enterprises. Indeed, it has become a named activity in the Yorkshire and Humber transitional ERDF application round as a business support measure.
The DP’s innovations around legal modelling for joint ventures and partnership between social enterprises and community, private sector and other social enterprise organisations rode the crest of a popular policy wave and was complemented by the government's development of the new community interest companies and charitable interest companies.
Whilst these two new government-led models are welcomed, it is still felt that there is room in the marketplace for the Newco model developed by SCEDU (whereby the private sector entrepreneur retains 49% and the community sector 51%, with associated share capital and dividends and the option for staff shareholdings too), as no one size fits all.
The work to forge strong partnerships with public sector agencies through the South Yorkshire Procurement Task Group was timely and has been mainstreamed, with the group continuing to meet, having taken on a life of its own outside the EQUAL programme. This grouping has now expanded to incorporate the fire and police services and is being linked to LEGI programmes in the sub-region.
Successful outcomes included work to rationalise, reduce duplication and minimise bureaucracy for both procurement officers and social enterprises alike. This model has real opportunities for mainstreaming in other sub-regions, particularly given the constant criticisms of poor access to procurement opportunities. It is not a costly model and facilitates dialogue and communication, which will ultimately ensure better contract delivery, wider supply networks and increased opportunities for social enterprises, thereby aiding their sustainability.
The longitudinal study of BME social enterprises in Barnsley contained insufficient case studies and evidence (i.e. only four) from which to draw conclusions. In order to be meaningful, a much larger longitudinal study would be needed, capable of comparison with non-BME cohorts.
The development of the Hull University accredited Management and Leadership Programme was valued by all who participated and has been successfully mainstreamed within Hull University and the Academy of Community Leadership provision.
The social audit process, piloted with several organisations, proved most useful in helping social enterprises refine and refocus their activities alongside ensuring stakeholder input. This process also proved to be valuable in assisting organisations to capture and report on their added value/social impacts. However, unless social audit and other processes like social accounts are given further credence by funding and contracting bodies, organisations will have to weigh up the benefits of undertaking such exercises.