As a social entrepreneur, I’m constantly looking for ways to develop the business through sustainable revenue creation. There is something about reaching new markets with existing products. We’re ‘lucky’ as a Community Interest Company, as it means that we can often apply for funding. As a believer in people valuing what they pay for, I’ve been reluctant to provide fully funded services despite how many disadvantaged young people we want to reach. My belief that our customers in the public sector value us more if they pay for it, is definitely being borne out. Thanks to the MSE Charity, we’re taking a hybrid approach. With a small amount of funding from them, we will be offering our signature Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS) course in three new locations – with an introductory offer of 50% off. Take up has been instantaneous and so has achieved our ambition of reaching new customers in new geographies. This aspect of being entrepreneurial fascinates and excites me.
Many of you will know that we love measuring the difference we make. Whilst we’ve made a good start at this at Your Own Place, there’s so much more we can do. I’d love to work with all the Registered Housing Providers to follow up on the tenancies of the young people we train on our Independent Living Skills (TILS) courses. That way we can find out which are better tenants as a result of attending our courses. And then try and attribute it to our intervention of course. For now, we hope you enjoy the one-page impact report of our latest TILS course last week in Norwich.
If you didn’t hear about why we invited John Bird to come and talk to us in Norwich last week, that’s because my inner opportunist (see yesterday’s blog) wanted to launch our Volunteer Tenancy Mentoring alongside his great message of ‘a hand up and not a hand out’. For £300 we are now offering employers the opportunity to develop their staff and their brand awareness. And in the process they are able to make a massive local and social impact. £300 buys two days of comprehensive and transferable mentoring training, vetting and support to mentor a young person in their first tenancy for a year. The employee will gain insights into the lives of young people struggling to get by in a complex world and be able to make a tangible difference. The employer will see their employee grow with this experience and know that they are truly investing in that person. If you’re interested as an employer (or private individual) you’ll find out loads more on our website. We know it works and we know that our young people are worth the investment.
John Bird, the founder of The Big Issue and currently tackling poverty in The House of Lords, is coming to Norwich on Thursday! We’re so pleased that he accepted our invitation to come and talk to a group of our partners and local businesses. He’ll be sharing his insights into social enterprise, its force for doing social good and his many reflections since starting The Big Issue. Now a Lord, he’s committed to dismantling poverty and I genuinely can’t wait to hear his insights into what this means for all of us. I’ll let you know what he says next week!
We’re one year on and Alex has been in post since April 11th 2016. I honestly cannot believe how much she has achieved. Even more so given that Alex did not come from a youth work background when she started. 500 hours of face-to-face support for young people, numerous workshops, 26 referrals to partner agencies and 3500 miles on the milometer! All in a year’s work running an Employment Project for young people facing barriers to work. Seriously, if you read one document today, make it Alex’s beautiful impact report. That’s what we call value for money!
Lucy and Adam from Reality Estate Agency will be running a very muddy 12k on 24th June – just for Your Own Place. Naturally we’d love to join them, but we’re busy that day! However, you can sponsor them right here right now! All monies raised help us to keep costs down which means we can reach more young people and prevent more youth homelessness. Huge thanks and respect to Lucy and Adam!
We’re so delighted to announce our new short film kindly sponsored by Us2U Consulting. Young people told us that they didn’t always know what to expect from our Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS) courses and what we do. So with our young people we’ve made a short film that shows some of the fun, creative and engaging ways we work with young people. We invite you to share it with young people, on social media and with colleagues and partners who may be interested. Tell us what you think too!
Today is #selfiepledge day! If you haven’t shared your #selfiepledge yet, then now’s the time. Please share your pledge on social media and tell us the role-model that you want to be for young people.
You can download a #selfiepledge template here. Just write in the words that describe the role-model you want to be and share!
Thursday is #selfiepledge day. It’s really simple. Please just share the kind of role-model you want to be for our young people. We all have a responsibility to speak and act in a way that positively impacts on the future generation. Which you do you want them see? You can download a #selfiepledge template here.
And we’d love you to help our message go viral by joining our Thunderclap on the day. This is a bit like a flashmob. It shares the message all at the same time across multiple social media platforms helping us to reach tens of thousands of people at once. It takes seconds to sign up and you can do so here.
So nice to have been asked back for the fifth year in a row! The UEA Social Work department has asked us to deliver a three-hour (!) seminar on the welfare benefit changes and system to BA and MA Social Work students. Somehow we manage to inject some fun into it. Let’s hope we can get good feedback again this year!
We want to know what kind of support that young people getting their own place need and want. This may be young people leaving school, going to uni, leaving care or just moving into their own place. This survey has three questions and will help us to build our case and reach more young people to prepare them to have the lives they want to lead. Thanks for completing and sharing.
Starting on 20th March we invite you to take part in our #selfiepledge week. All week we want you to tell us the kind of role-model you want to be. Role-models from all backgrounds are hugely important to young people and come in many forms. They may be teachers, mentors, social workers, parents and people they meet more fleetingly in day-to-day interactions. Never underestimate the impact your words and actions have. So use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to tell us your pledge to young people. We’ll see some of you at the Developing Outstanding Careers and Enterprise Conference on 23rd at the John Innes, where we’ll have our polaroid camera in case you haven’t done your #selfiepledge by then!
Next week we’re training six new Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS) trainers. They will be able to provide 1-2-1 as well as group courses all over Norfolk. This means we can reach more young people. So if you think these skills are needed in schools, youth groups, for young tenants, supported accommodation, prisons, for young people in college and even going to university, then please get in touch. We know these skills are needed because they’re not currently being taught.
We’re so excited to be entering 2017 with a new model of delivery. We believe that thinking in this way is what sets us apart as an innovative social enterprise. Like our young people we are not seeking handouts and want to be upfront about the benefits of getting involved with an organisation such as ours. Thanks to funding last year we ran two successful Volunteer Tenancy Mentoring projects. Whilst grateful for the opportunity to test these ideas out, one year of funding to establish and evaluate a project of this complexity is just woefully naive on the funder’s part.
We must move away from short-term funding if we’re serious about systemic social change. And that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. Finding a way to secure the revenue for a longer-term thinking. We’re currently looking at a three-pronged model to resourcing our Mentoring programme. All three prongs have track records elsewhere.
One is working with large local employers to buy in Mentoring training for their staff as an HR service. This is hugely appealing to employers who know that volunteering creates more motivated and committed employees. This model has the potential to run over four or five years.
With this financial kickstart we can then provide mentors to our customers at a vastly reduced cost – but nonetheless that’s our second revenue stream.
And thirdly, we’re increasingly seeing volunteers pay to volunteer in other models across the country. This is being explored to broaden our volunteer base and invite people to sign up through a bespoke website.
So you see, none of this will happen overnight, but when it does, it has longevity built in. Our young people deserve services that stick with them and we hope you’ll be excited enough to come on board with some of the most innovative ideas in the sector.
Last week I ventured, along with my PwC mentor, to the PwC Impact Hub on Tooley Street for their Social Enterprise Awards. Having never been shortlisted for an award in my life, this was very exciting and new. Brigade is the most amazing social enterprise bar and restaurant and the canapés (small feasts) were to die for. We were shortlisted for the Innovation award and didn’t win. Sometimes people don’t win and I think in the world of social media hyperbole, it’s important to share the highs and lows. Everyone says that they don’t mind, but I really don’t. Not least because Bristol Braille Technology did, with awesome and groundbreaking technology. In the Social Impact category I was thrilled to see the wonderful Money A + E and my friend Jerry scoop an award for their epic efforts to bring money skills to parts of London. The very best people won on the night and to spend a couple of hours with 15 shortlisted social enterprises was an absolute joy.
The Missing Kind, Your Own Place CIC, Lola Stafford Consulting and The Feed CIC, all social enterprises based in Norfolk, are holding a social enterprise open day on 15th October from 1pm to celebrate Social Saturday, a nationwide day of events and activities to celebrate social enterprise, social investment and social savings in the UK.
From 1pm experts will be sharing their passion for social enterprise and how it helps local communities, as well as inspiring future social entrepreneurs. There will be activities to get involved, learn more about ‘buying social’ as well as some scrumptious cup cakes!
It’ll kick-off from 1pm at The Missing Kind, 21 Castle Meadow, Norwich, NR1 3DH. At 4pm we’ll be heading to City Hall to share our messages of a kinder social economy.
All these social enterprises are business-like in their approach to bringing about social change – whether it’s to make a more compassionate world, prevent youth homelessness, benefit local communities and business or providing catering whilst supporting vulnerable adults to develop employment skills.
Social enterprises are businesses that trade to meet a social or environmental mission. There are around 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing nearly a million people and contributing £24 billion to the economy.
Collectively, we’re taking part because we believe that ‘buying social’ should become part of everyday life for shoppers. Why shouldn’t people try to do a bit of good whilst spending their money?
Social Saturday is a national campaign led by Social Enterprise UK and the Cabinet Office.
Every intervention counts! We’re committed to making every intervention as engaging and positive as it can be. We know that young people learn best this way. Last week was no different. Six young people started and finished a three-day Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS) course in The Training Flat. We covered everything from reading the gas meter, understanding borrowing & APR to how to manage a flat-sharing situation. We worked with the young people to identify not just their existing strengths and knowledge, but their aspirations and how they will feel when they get their own place. Feedback was amazing with one young person saying ‘I learnt a lot of awesome things’. Read our one-page impact report here.
You’ll see comments all over our lovely white-board wall from the launch of The Training Flat yesterday. Over 40 guests joined us during the day to wish us well, learn more and discuss getting involved with this innovative project. Next week we welcome eight young people for three days to develop their Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS). The launch is the end of the beginning and now we have to make a difference to young people’s lives that help them towards the future they want. MustardTV came down today too. You can see their short film of the launch here.
So today was spent getting The Training Flat spotless ready for tomorrow. We’re welcoming over 50 guests from all sectors and corners of Norfolk. We’ll be cutting the ribbon around midday and announcing that The Training Flat is open for business. On a serious note, we now have to make this work. It’s been a whirlwind getting everything ready. We now have to reach young people from all walks of life to support and prepare them for adult life. And someone has to pay for this potentially life-changing service. We’re excited about the prospects and believe there’s no shortage of business. We just have to reach it by being the best. No pressure!
We really are nearly there. In many ways it’s been more hard work than I realised and in other ways it’s just receding horizons. As with most things I undertake I set myself a minimum goal, smashed it and then had to keep re-setting it. For the launch of The Training Flat I had calmed myself with the prospect of achieving about 75% of what needed doing in time. My justification for this low target was a good one. When young people get their first flat, they too want everything looking fabulous immediately. Every one of us that has moved house knows that this is not possible and best laid plans… Some things can’t really be done until something else has been done first and sometimes it’s simply outside your control. This has very much been the overwhelmingly positive experience with The Training Flat. I can’t think of a more collegiate and collaborative experience that has brought so much positivity from so many well-meaning people. If we undertake more of these in other towns and cities (and I very much hope we do), we’ve learnt a vast amount about what can be achieved, the time it really takes, the cost and power of asking for help. Great lessons for our young people getting their first home.
We work with a broad spectrum of young people with dreams and aspirations like the rest of us. Some want to earn a simple living, others have a specialist career in mind. This autumn we want to work with a small group of sympathetic and like-minded employers to design short and supported work-tasters for our young people. Many have never worked before and we want to be able to give them that opportunity in a real environment. If you can help then we’d love to see you at our briefing on 11th October. Get in touch for a chat.
Our plans to broaden our reach and put young people’s employability at the heart of Your Own Place came a step closer this week. We have been funded by the Big Lottery Awards for All Fund to take the next step in our growth – to develop more Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS) training capacity. We’ll be providing comprehensive training to eight current and future youth workers who want to work for an innovative, inspiring and aspiring social enterprise. We will be looking for youth workers that share our values and fun-filled approach to supporting young people in the transition to adulthood. We will start recruiting in December and the training will be early in 2017. The paid one-week training will be delivered in partnership with The Participation People. The funding also means we can further develop and improve our training resources, an integral part of our TILS training package. More trainers mean we can reach more young people all over the county and beyond from 2017.
That got your attention! It’s not quite true, however, the truth is just as fabulous. We were contacted last week by a local artist and Marketing Coordinator from Us2UConsulting, Kerwin Blackburn, who offered to paint some art for The Training Flat (in brand colours naturally!). When he said that it would be inspired by Jackson Pollock, we had to jump at the opportunity. Kerwin identified a large space on the generous staircase and is now busy creating our masterpiece. We hope to hang it at the start of September and all those at the launch on 27th September will get to see it. I can’t wait.
We’ve been informed by Norwich City Council that we’re being ‘signed up’ this Friday. We’ve been planning this moment for a long time and it’s a fantastic milestone in our development. It’s the moment that a small social enterprise gets its first premises. And it’s not just any premises. It’s a uniquely innovative Tenancy Training Flat in which we’ll be changing lives forever. Before our Autumn Programme gets underway in September, we’ve got to kit it out. On Friday I will get the keys to an empty two-bedroom shell. Next week will be a flurry of activity of press visits, donor visits and decorating. If you’ve yet to make a donation and would like to, we’d love to hear from you. Even a small donation will make a difference, for example a pack of tea bags, bin bags, loo roll or light bulbs. We want to stock up for future delivery. We’ll be receiving visitors on 11th August in the afternoon, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th August. We’d love to see you especially if you can lend a hand with any painting! Tea, coffee and refreshments will be non-stop!
SAVE THE DATE: Official launch 29th September.
As part of our mission to reach more young people and increase our social impact, we’re working with more partners than ever. We’re told all the time that this is the best way forward, particularly when times are tough, as now. However, as a small organisation it’s time-consuming and we have to be honest that it doesn’t always work out. However, I’m confident that our new partnership with Stacy Bradley from The Smile Organisation will. You may recall that Stacy worked tirelessly for us last year, supporting young people into work opportunities – with some outstanding results. This week Stacy will be undertaking 1-2-1 Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS) training for Your Own Place. She’ll be out and about, meeting young people face-to-face to understand their tenancy needs and anxieties. Over five sessions she’ll answer their questions, help them to find their own answers and allay those anxieties resulting in better and more confident tenants in our communities. With The Training Flat up and running, Stacy will be able to use this bespoke space to bring those words of wisdom alive and reach even more young people.
Looking for work is more of an art than a science. We can all spend a lot of time doing it, as long as we know what we’re doing! For many of the young people we work with it’s harder than it sounds. The barriers our young people face are well rehearsed and present us with the never-ending challenge of finding ways to help them overcome them. With youth being the biggest risk factor to becoming homeless and unpaid rent the main reason for eviction, it seems natural to us that we would want to support young people into work as a way of delivering on our mission of preventing youth homelessness. Helping them to find, secure and keep work is massively important for their sense of self-worth and place in the world. It is for all of us and I’ve yet to meet a young person who aspires to a life on benefits. So naturally we’re delighted that Children in Need have just funded us to focus on helping 16-18 year olds find work over the next three years. We’re particularly interested in organisations from all sectors that can work with us to offer high quality work experience as well as innovative ways of supporting the emotional health of our young people.
The observant amongst you will have noticed that our blogs and news usually appear on a Saturday morning. However, we’re aiming for weekday posts from now on. I hope you continue to enjoy them. Many will be aware that our mission is to ensure young people have a safe and secure home. We do this by providing the skills, confidence and knowledge to young people who may be setting up home earlier than the average and without lots of support round them. Part of this mission has always been to make it as real, fun and engaging as possible. This dream came a step closer this week. We’re working with a partner (to be announced soon we hope) to secure a flat where we will deliver this training. Not only will this give young people a flavour of where they may end up living, it will also be bespoke to our courses and fantastically welcoming. Perhaps most importantly however, is the way it will bring our courses alive. Not only will young people be able to cook a meal and paint a room, but they’ll be able to meet the neighbours, read the electricity meter as well as learn what electrical appliances really cost to run and meet the landlord too! We’re incredibly excited about this innovation and development in what we do and how we do it. We’ll be coming back to you very soon to ask for help. Just like our young people, we’re going to need to furnish it on a budget! #safeandsecurehome
We’re delighted to be joining the Celebrating Volunteers Picnic on 5th June at Norwich Cathedral. Volunteers have provided amazing support, vitality and ideas to Your Own Place over the last couple of years and we’re delighted to be able to thank them during Volunteers Week. We’re hoping for lots of sunshine, loads of interesting stalls and a few treats! Do come down and say hello, be thanked if you’re a volunteer or sign up to become one!
On 21st April we welcomed poet, care-leaver and chancellor of Manchester University to help us launch our Youth Homelessness Research at St. Giles House Hotel Our research was developed and led by nine young people who had themselves experienced homelessness. With their experiences they obtained the experiences of others. We had an amazing evening hearing from Lemn, sharing our work and recognising the support we can offer to young people in transition.