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In 2020 we funded 618 social enterprises through the Social Enterprise Support Fund. In 2021/2 we funded an additional 500 social enterprises. Here are some of the amazing ventures we were able to support:
Asperger East Anglia (AEA) provides employment and training activities for adults with Asperger Syndrome living in Norfolk and Suffolk, and offers supported housing in Suffolk. They have supported people with autism, co-morbid conditions and other disability issues for over 20 years.
The impact of COVID-19 was devastating. The organisation had to close all outreach support groups and retail units. They initially had to furlough more than a quarter of their staff, despite an increase in support enquiries from new and existing clients. We awarded them a grant of £36,000. This prevented AEA having to furlough staff so they were able to continue trading and supporting their service users.
Aspiring Futures is one of the only organisations in Wolverhampton specifically supporting the needs of Black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee women. It provides holistic wellbeing, advice, guidance, training and peer support. It seeks to address the range of interconnected issues that women face locally, which can lead to poor mental health. The funding of just over £46,000 we awarded enabled Aspiring Futures to employ more unemployed women, so they could reach more people from marginalised communities during the pandemic.
Bizzie Bodies is a platform that provides innovative, creative learning experiences for young people. It also improves community cohesion in Rotherhithe, London. Up to 300 children and their families a year take part in activities, programmes and skills development. With the closure of schools, the pandemic upturned the typical school experience. Bizzie Bodies moved fast, partnering with 36 organisations throughout 2020 to deliver online services and ensure children had the equipment they needed to access learning.
With funding from the Social Enterprise Support Fund, founder Emilie was able to continue supporting young people, while developing new courses. She says: “The Social Enterprise Support Fund helped me to reimagine Bizzie Bodies, to reinvent it, and to move forward with the community and open up what we do to more young people.”
Based in Bristol, this charity and social enterprise addresses inequalities experienced in its local neighbourhoods. The team run a range of community development projects supporting social action in the neighbourhood – including a community centre, adventure playground, community magazine, community kitchen and lots more. Stacy Yelland says: “We lost income from our buildings overnight and other grant funding sources were postponed. So this has been amazing: to receive funding from the Social Enterprise Support Fund, to support our key services to adapt and respond to COVID-19.”
Manchester-based Gaydio is the UK’s only national LGBTQ+ community radio station. We supported Gaydio with a £30,000 grant. This enabled them to continue giving a platform to those who might struggle to access mainstream media, while producing informative programmes from an LGBTQ+ viewpoint throughout the pandemic.
Joeli Brearley set up The Motherhood Plan after being sacked just two days after telling her employer she was pregnant. The York-based social enterprise provides free legal advice to any mum experiencing discrimination, and offers a peer-to-peer support programme. Their advice line saw a 450% increase in calls during COVID-19. We awarded £15,000. Joeli says of the grant: “It means we’ll be able to do workshops that will give women the tools and the confidence they need to find new work, to be able to put food on the table for their families.”
The Umbrella Café in Whitstable aims to reduce social isolation and food poverty. During the pandemic, the community hub cooked and distributed 3,000 meals, and offered befriending support to local people. We supported their work with a grant of £27,000.
Jo Verney of Umbrella Café says: "The funding enabled us to continue impactful project work past lockdown 1.0 whilst also enriching our team and widening our reach. We would not have been able to do this without the funding; we would have been forced to scale back and as a result really struggled in subsequent Covid-19 lockdowns. This funding helped to secure our future as a locally rooted social enterprise and directly benefited our community."
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