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Business Connectors get communities and business working together

23 November 2015

Business Connectors are talented individuals seconded from business, trained by Business in the Community and placed in local communities of greatest need. They encourage collaborations amongst a wide range of organisations and become an essential link between business and local community organisations – helping to change the culture of how business and communities work together.

In 2012, Big Lottery Fund announced a grant of £4.8 million to fund the development and infrastructure of the programme. Figures show that for every £1 invested by the Big Lottery, £8.92 of support has been leveraged into communities where there is greatest need.

maxine-ennis-BlogSizeHere Maxine Ennis, who is CEO of The Rotunda a learning centre and community focused charity in Kirkdale, one of the most disadvantaged wards in the country – explains how Business Connectors have helped to transform her organisation to the benefit of the local community in Liverpool.

“I was a student at The Rotunda in the early nineties after leaving school with only a few qualifications. I was teenage mum and, like a lot of young women in my position, the centre offered me crucial childcare support. I can honestly say that I never would have gone on to higher education and perused the professional career I have, if not for this place.

Today I work in the same office I took those classes, having been appointed Chief Executive of the charity in 2009, in fact my predecessor taught me.  At the time the Trustees knew they had to take a different approach to become more sustainable as there were government cuts on the horizon.

The challenge for me was to bring in a more business-like approach, while not losing the culture and everything else this centre stood for. A few years after my appointment I met Kelly Pipe, who was the Business Connector for North Liverpool.

Kelly had been seconded to the area from Royal Mail and she soon introduced me to a business architect from United Utilities who was so impressed by what we were trying to do here that he offered us a series of six free strategic sessions – and in turn I developed a sustainability plan.

Inside The Rotunda

Inside The Rotunda

It was a very important turning point as it made me think clearer about where I needed to take the organisation. The help offered resulted in the delivery of a three year business plan. I’m now reviewing the whole strategy of the charity. That’s just one example of the benefits of working with a Business Connector. Bernie Hollywood (Lloyds Banking Group) introduced me to SSE – School of Social Entrepreneurs which led to a £15k bursary for Leadership training – that was an amazing experience. Tracey Nairn (HM Passport Office) has also helped me on many occasions.

In their own ways, all the Business Connectors I’ve come into contact with have helped me grow as a business leader within our sector and build organisational capacity. Today our figures show that we are now reaching nearly 2,500 people a year, up from 250 and just like when I was a teen we continue to offer ‘womb to grave’ support for the local community.

Staff numbers have also doubled – from 8 to 17 – whilst turnover has increased from less than £150k a year to £500k. I’m not saying that’s all me; I’ve got a brilliantly talented team around me and a fabulous network of friends in the Connector programme.”

The Business Connector programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, is creating a network of Connectors across England and Scotland.

Click for more about The Rotunda charity.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 26 November 2015 8:45 am

    Reblogged this on Connecting in West Cumbria and commented:
    Here is some news about Business Connectors’ impact in Liverpool. Hope we can get some success in West Cumbria!

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