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Regional social enterprise body acquired by housing group
We need the support, infrastructure and investment of a much larger organisation if we are to achieve these goals of unlocking opportunity for social enterprise and our stakeholders and supporters.
Melanie Mills, CEO, Social Enterprise West Midlands
The representative body for social enterprises across the West Midlands solves survival puzzle by joining forces with a major housing association.
The Aspire Group comprises Aspire Housing, social enterprise arm Enterprising Futures and regeneration charity the Realise Foundation.
SEWM will become part of Enterprising Futures, which is currently made up of training company PM Training and furniture reuse charity Furniture Mine.
SEWM provides membership services, brokerage, consultancy, networking, training and support events for more than 400 members, partners and stakeholders in the West Midlands.
Its purpose is to help boost social enterprises in order to create greater social and economic benefits for the region. The Aspire Group says it will continue this work.
Explaining the move, Will Nixon, Aspire’s deputy CEO and chief executive of Enterprising Futures, said: ‘We work with more than 800 businesses across Staffordshire who want to help young people into work and act in a socially responsible way.
‘Joining with Social Enterprise West Midlands will mean we can provide more support for businesses across the region to grow, become more profitable and to invest more in their communities.
‘In conjunction with our housing association work and regeneration charity, we believe this social enterprise activity is the most effective way to boost north Staffordshire.’
Melanie Mills, CEO of SEWM, told SocialEnterpriseLive.com that, unlike some of the other regional bodies that had previously relied on grant funding, SEWM – which is constituted as a community interest compny – had developed sustainable revenue streams.
Writing to SEWM’s supporters this week, Mills said: ‘Against a background of difficult economic circumstances SEWM CIC is extremely proud of our social enterprise journey. Since the end of our public funding we have survived and thrived on 100% earned income from the sale of our products and services.
‘We have achieved so much in our first 18 months of independent training and we are looking forward to doing so much more – but for that we need the support, infrastructure and investment of a much larger organisation if we are to achieve these goals of unlocking opportunity for social enterprise and our stakeholders and supporters.’
Mills said SEWM CIC would remain as an independent company with its own board and ‘with the same community of benefit for which we were first created’.
Peter Holbrook, chief executive of national support body Social Enterprise UK, said he was ‘sure SEWM will prosper under the Aspire Group’. He commented: ‘At a time of recession and frustration about businesses which do not trade or invest responsibly it is important that socially driven businesses and budding social entrepreneurs can turn to an organisation like SEWM for support.’