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Social Enterprise and Sustainability

27 January 2009

To the House of Lords on Monday for the launch of an excellent document about social enterprise and sustainability.

Last year the Big Lottery Fund engaged Lord Mawson (he of Bromley-by-Bow fame and author of The Social Entrepreneur) alongside Leaside Regeneration, to work with seven Healthy Living Centres to examine how social enterprise might sustain them into the future.

In brief, the Lottery distributed £300 million to over 350 healthy living centres to encourage the development of community-based hubs offering preventative health and social care. Our evaluation of the programme showed impressive impact on engaging so-called harder to reach groups and a good contribution to addressing health inequalities but when, after five years, the Lottery money ran out, many Centres initially struggled to survive partly because NHS attentions were elsewhere.

This project selected seven HLCs who were interested in using the social enterprise model to sustain themselves and gave them the chance to work with Andrew Mawson and the excellent team from Leaside Generation. At the event we heard testimony from all seven as to how the external injection of expertise and support had sharpened plans, opened minds, opened doors and generated both confidence and ambition to their efforts.

Twelve months on we have a document that draws lessons of interest not only to other HLCs but to other projects interested in social enterprise and we have seven HLCs excited and inspired about the future. And we have communities and people in need who, right through this period, have seen their local services grow. Active learning in every sense!

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