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1 1 Enterprising Communities Project A Debrief Report Prepared For By Cogent Research & Analysis Ltd February 2014

2 2 - Background (1) - Cogent Research & Analysis Ltd are an independent Market Research Company based in North Wales Our research is conducted in accordance with the Market Research Society of Great Britain’s Code of Conduct As part of this, the Code advocates that all research activities practiced are done so in an ethical manner and information and opinions sought are genuinely being collected for the purposes of improving a product, service or to test a new concept for a product/service. Genuine Market Research is NOT performed with the aim of selling or promoting products or services As part of the Code of Conduct, we are not permitted to disclose the identity of respondents or attribute findings to individuals or companies unless we are given permission to do so by the individuals themselves

3 3 - Background (2) - Whilst running the Enterprising Communities Project in Denbighshire DVSC recognised the lack of integrated support service for social enterprises within the county Social Enterprise Network Merseyside is an organisation that assists social enterprises to develop on Merseyside DVSC were keen to understand whether a need existed in Denbighshire for a similar network Research was commissioned with the aim of :- –Determining the ‘universe’ size of social enterprises in Denbighshire –Conducting primary research amongst social enterprises in Denbighshire to ascertain whether there was a demand for a social enterprise network and if so, the type of assistance required from the service The results from the study will be used to facilitate the development of a business plan The following slides contain the results from the study which ensued...

4 4 - Work Undertaken - Investigative work:- –Identifying social enterprises from a potential universe of circa 100 organisations (largely clarified by telephone call, provision of online survey also for self completion) –36 x detailed telephone and face to face interviews conducted with Social Enterprises & existing members of SEN Merseyside (1 x completed online survey) –5 x detailed telephone and face to face interviews with Social Entrepreneurs (from outside Denbighshire), Potential Partner Agencies (within Denbighshire)

5 5 - Social Enterprise Segments - 3 segments or types of organisations were identified during the study:- –Actively Aspiring – 19 identified. These represented the majority of those consulted in the study (two thirds). They comprised individuals or organisations who were in the process of or currently setting up their business, some had commenced trading –Established enterprises – 24 identified. These organisations were up and running, more established businesses, contracting with Denbighshire County Council, employing significant numbers of staff and largely financially self sustaining –Not relevant/Aspiring – 10 identified. these were charities or not for profit organisations that did not see their organisation being viable as a commercial operation –Unconfirmed – 38 organisations that we were unable to ‘screen’ to determine relevance. Determining whether an organisation was or was not a social enterprise was virtually a telephone interview in itself! The interpretation of social enterprise is somewhat subjective The classification of an organisation being a ‘social enterprise’ or not could also be influenced by whoever took the phone call, for example a Trustee with little aspiration/ambition for the organisation versus a more enthusiastic individual

6 6 - Spatial Map View 1 -

7 7 - Spatial Map View 2 -

8 8 - Spatial Map View 3 -

9 9 - The Social Enterprises (1) – Three types encountered – Established, Aspiring and Not relevant or Not Aspiring Established enterprises – their characteristics:– – Strong skill base on Committee/Board – Well networked individuals – willing to contact people, ask for help, use the Internet – Often previous business background, accountancy etc – What can the Network possibly teach me? Maybe a tad arrogant – Some recognise however they can contribute to and collaborate with other network members Aspiring enterprises – their characteristics:- – Possibly come into the sector due to dissatisfaction with previous role, illness – a life choice – Typically no previous experience of social enterprise – None or very little business background – Passionate about their cause, this drives them above anything else

10 10 - The Social Enterprises (2) – Not Relevant/Not Aspiring, their characteristics:– – Decision taken not to pursue venture as commercial activity – They could have previously failed or aware the business had previously failed when ran as a commercial venture – They are in a chicken and egg situation – limited resources, no physical capacity to grow, expand – willingness/enthusiasm is not there amongst committee members and volunteers – No commercial aptitude – ‘we’ll continue as we are until bank account runs dry’

11 11 - What Did People Tell Us? - Categorically, there is a need for a central service/coordinator role to support social enterprise in Denbighshire – the vast majority of those consulted were in agreement Reaction was less positive from three social enterprise organisations … two of these were more established businesses, describing themselves as ‘self contained’, they did not anticipate deriving value from a ‘Network’ “There’s a definite need and it’s brilliant” “How much are we willing to share? Are we really better together or will they steal our ideas?”

12 12 - Why Does It Appeal? - Appeal was more prevalent amongst people at the conceptual stage or infancy stages of setting up/having set up a social enterprise/CIC Interest however was evident from more established social firms, just to a lesser extent Those in favour recognised that no coordinator role currently existed in the region Many felt it was the right time to launch the network with social enterprise moving up the political agenda The market recognised help existed for social enterprises in Denbighshire, BUT it was unclear who provided what support – even potential partners/agencies delivering the support were unclear of each others remit and acknowledged often working in isolation of one another

13 13 - Appealing Aspects - “We need the help, we know we need to be operating as a business” “It would be good speaking to others in the same position as ourselves” “The opportunity to meet other like minded people and projects, we can collaborate, they can share their experiences, the pitfalls” “It would give us more confidence, it’s a big project we’re contemplating taking on, the back up of the network would make us feel more secure” “we’d value the legal advice, employment advice would be useful and reality checks ensuring we’re making it work financially”

14 14 - What’s Unappealing About Network Concept? (1) - More established social firms were engaging with partners such as Bangor University or the LEAD programme which a couple of respondents perceived as a more ‘advanced offering’ than what the Network could provide However, one established social firm felt that the ‘Masterclasses’ ‘Menter Iontach Nua Masterclasses at Bangor University were intimidating for start ups or younger social firms and even for themselves as an established firm, it was believed that the Masterclass content was ‘disconnected’ from their reality of running a social enterprise in North Wales There were ‘trust’ issues – more established businesses questioned who would be sat around the table with them – they would not wish to divulge too much to ‘would be’ competition “It’s not always a guru or expert you need to parachute in and tell you how it’s done. The North Wales economy is significantly different to that of the SE England for example. For us, they [Bangor Masterclasses] seem a bit disconnected from what we do every day in our support of people in a poor economy. We need much more practical support”

15 15 - What’s Unappealing About Network Concept? (2) - Time/commitment demands – leaders of more established social firms were concerned about available resource Resources – limited staff to have people missing/time demands Suspicions about impartiality of the Network provider – some assumed the Network would be ran by a Government agency – negative connotations with respondents generally disliking the Governments traditional working practices, and agencies being ‘precious’ about their service It was also felt to some extent that too many agencies/people wanted to claim expertise in social enterprise, ‘getting bogged down in it’

16 16 - Unappealing Aspects - “It sounds as if it would be another body touting for business, we’re inundated by organisations trying to teach us about social enterprise, they become talking shops” “There’s only certain amount of time to get involved and I know how to get advice from Business Wales” “It depends what you can get out of it [Network]. It’s quite competitive, there’s no room to be friends with everyone”

17 17 - Confusion In the Marketplace - Several of the agencies and potential partners engaged in supporting social enterprise were not promoting these ‘services’ to social firms (self acknowledged) They relied on existing networks and word of mouth to spread the message of their support – also there was a fear they are not resourced to cope with increased demand “The bigger the case load of enterprises you’re working with kind of dilutes how much time you have” Agencies were evolving and extending their remit to fulfil demand and approaches made to them by social enterprises, community groups and individuals – support was reactive to individual requests Referral does take place between agencies if agency roles are understood and defined AND where a relationship existed/had not broken down “I don’t think social enterprises are adequately supported currently, people will go to Denbighshire Enterprise for advice but they are not being passed on to us. I think we need a forum where you get to know who people are and what people do and then you can signpost people to them”

18 18 - The Case FOR a Network – End User Perspective No central body currently Support is there but people need to be looking for it People involved in social enterprise find it difficult to motivate themselves when working in isolation They feel that access to support should be made easier Some say the support available is the WRONG support – business advice whilst social enterprise advice is different “To be able to meet with people who have been there and done it, who know the pitfalls. To access help and support for the practicalities” “We need that hand holding – its different to running a limited company, we need help from someone who understands the systems and how they work” Social Enterprise Network Denbighshire = One accessible point, centralising help “You feel like a lone voice”

19 19 - And Over To The Social Enterprises….- “There is so much more I could do with help’s about having a double of me” “I would love help with the books because our accounts are going in” “The whole premise of a network if any training is to be given I would focus on building a capacity of leadership because too many so called social entrepreneurs will be great leaders because they are passionate and it’s a complete non starter” “SEN Merseyside has definitely opened doors for us - we are only experts in what we do but they have opened up opportunity for us in different parts of the Country”

20 20 - So, How About This Network Idea? - “All my business, all my work is done through networking, people do not appreciate how important it is to network” “This would have been brilliant for me, I would have had one stop – I wouldn’t have been floundering around making myself unpopular by asking awkward questions” “I think it’s a great idea. We need someone” “This isn’t duplication. Wales Cooperative don’t offer this service. They set me up and left me to my own devices until I said that I needed more help. This is approaching it the other way around – it’s saying ‘you need my help, here are a range of services we can help you with from day one’” “The shop wouldn’t be here now if we weren’t willing to listen to other people along the way or try new ideas. We are constantly trying new things, different events and having to change things around to keep it going”

21 21 - The Case FOR a Network – Partner Perspective Most potential partner agencies agreed more support could be given to social enterprises Mostly positive reactions to the ‘SEN’ concept per se Some political unease about who runs it Appreciation that this would be an opportunity for partners to signpost to it and help them to better service their clients Opportunities for their clients to shadow more established social enterprises/mentor role Agreement that the Network would serve a purpose to raise the profile of social enterprise & explain the function Partners recognise that social firms will be operating on different levels – some concerns were levelled that more established social firms may not become involved which may hinder the success of the Network “It’s a very good idea, for us working with people trying to give them an understanding of what social enterprise is, they could gain access to mentor support, float their ideas, learn about the pitfalls and about other people’s experiences”

22 No of Respondents Saying Q How appealing or unappealing is the Network concept? Quite AppealingVery AppealingUnappealing - Who’s In Favour? - Don’t Know 22 All partner agencies consulted reacted positively to the network concept

23 No of Respondents Saying Q Are you likely or unlikely to become a member of the Network? UnlikelyLikelyUnsure - Likelihood of Joining - 23

24 24 - What Keeps Them Awake At Night? - Awareness & understanding – public unaware of them/social enterprise Attitude and negativity from other people Lack of commitment from people Support from the community Time restraints (potential partners) Difficulties securing funding, complex funding forms Lack of dedicated team/support means things drag on – expectation is that something will happen quickly Working with the local authority – lack of communication, single mindedness Access to affordable finance Making people understand what we do – huge barrier “We need help with funding, knowing what’s available and help in applying for funding, for instance I downloaded the Lottery form and was put off by it” “Once we got funding, the support network was there”

25 25 - What Would Make Life Easier? (1) - Above all else, respondents needed positive, practical, hands on help & support Business planning, assistance with finances & HR policy were most frequently sought Signposting to:- – Admin help & support/access to a virtual PA – Subsidised printing, training, translation services – Assistance with constitution, legal help – Introductions to other similar organisations (UK, abroad) – Available funding & assistance with applications – Book keeping, accountancy services – Support with recruitment, staff retention, employment law, data protection & policies – Running a business generally, leadership – Advice re expansion, franchising

26 26 - What Would Make Life Easier? (2) - – Access to training – 1 st Aid, Child Awareness, health & safety – Assistance to becoming sustainable – Help to recruit volunteers/the ‘right’ volunteers – Advice on health & safety – Marketing & promotion – how to get the service out there – PR “I’d welcome advice on policy, if I employed someone I don’t know how to manage them, their entitlement for maternity pay, paternity pay etc” – Identifying & linking with other Networks eg Plunkett Foundation (community shops) – How to get customers – Customer service & looking after customers – CRB checks for staff – Cheaper insurance deals – Access to press editors who understand social enterprise

27 27 - Accessing The Network - Popular methods – Account manager/mentor – Attending networking meetings with other social enterprises eg every 3 months – Dedicated website – particularly for those with time constraints – Dedicated telephone helpline – Regular ebulletin/ezine – Events & seminars (need to be central, Rhuddlan, St Asaph, Denbigh or repeated North/South Denbighshire) – Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs

28 28 - Membership Fees - Reactions to the suggestion of a membership fee were mixed Some were put off by the suggestion of a fee Others felt that if the services and support afforded value ie access to skills to help them secure finance, assistance with disputes etc then a fee of up to £100 per year was acceptable Many suggested a fee structure where start ups received free help and advice for 6 months It was also suggested that insurances could be inclusive of membership similar to the package offered by The Federation of Small Business

29 29 - The Name – ‘Social Enterprise Network Denbighshire’ - Some issues to overcome from the outset… – Social enterprise – people do not understand the term even those engaged in it find it ambiguous – ‘Denbighshire’ – border issue, respondents fear cohesiveness would be lost if the Network were restricted to solely Denbighshire – Social Enterprise Network Denbighshire – as a title deemed to lack ‘clout’, ‘not punchy enough’ – Network – term misleading gives social firms the impression it will be primarily a ‘talking shop’ Respondents used the following terminology which could be incorporated in to a name:- – Link, hub, net, community, connected, forum – ‘Enterprising socially for the benefit of society’ – The name chosen was felt to need inspiration along the lines of ‘Rhyl Going Forward’ – an uplifting, positive identity

30 30 - Who Should Run The Network? (1) - Some respondents argued that traditional government agencies should not be involved as they were perceived as ‘too rigid’ and having their own agendas There was some support for DVSC’s involvement in coordinating the network – respondents acknowledged there was a need to have voluntary services understanding of the issues to run the service however DVSC’s image of not being dynamic enough detracted from this Denbighshire County Council were not deemed ideally structured to run the Network – respondents reporting they were institutionalised, authoritarian, not free enough to let the Network develop – Social Enterprises wanted to get from A to B as fast as possible It was unanimously felt that the service needed impartiality – Chamber of Commerce or The Federation of Small Business were also suggested as potential deliverers The sector wanted a champion to head up the Network, a person who understood social enterprise, a practitioner, someone who would be strong in campaigning and challenging for social enterprise

31 31 - Who Should Run The Network? (2) - Respondents were generally positive regarding the suggestion of SEN Merseyside transferring their model to Denbighshire – the advantages being tried and tested policies and procedures, a track record, quick launch of the service so as to ‘hit the ground running’ This was on the proviso that post set up/first 12 months the service would be handed over to local people to deliver or to the Network itself to self run – a suggestion made by a few “It would be fine to bring someone in but this isn’t Liverpool, we’re a different area, culture and approach is needed. Liverpool is a big City with a lot of money, Rhyl, well Rhyl is Rhyl” “Rosie is very inspiring, very encouraging, she’s got a handle on everything. Don’t let DCC get their hands on it, they’re too involved in local politics” “It’s got to be someone the sector will trust and believe, someone who’s willing to share information, pulling us in the same direction” “It’s got to be someone who doesn’t take the word ‘no’. Someone who’s capable of getting to higher levels and challenging them in the grey suits”

32 32 - Experiences Working With DCC - For the social enterprises that had dealt with DCC, most reported poor experiences – Slow response to social firms – Drawn out processes particularly in response to decisions – A lack of awareness/understanding - officers largely unaware about social enterprise ‘they’ve all got their own work to do’ – Inability for social firms to access money – money being channelled through ‘usual suspects’ including DVSC – Local town councillors disinterested in social firm causes/plight – Lack of understanding of the political value brought by social enterprise – No structure in DCC to take creative ideas forward – ‘Procedures stifle creative people’ – No contact with social firms – sense of remoteness – Officers not working in conjunction with each other – no uniformity across departments

33 33 - Experiences Working With DCC - “It’s a slow drawn out process dealing with anything with the Council. When it involves a decision about the rent of a building – it’s to their benefit what we’re doing, they could have been receiving rent for the past six months” “They [DCC] don’t have the same urgency as the private sector”

34 34 - What Do Social Firms Want From DCC? (1) - Some suggestions – A better interface with the Council – they suggested an intermediary/dedicated person role for interfacing with social enterprises, some one who takes on responsibility – Change in attitude – DCC have got to want to work with social firms – Increased understanding and appreciation of the benefits of social enterprise ‘they need to appreciate that we are picking up where the public sector is dropping off’ – Improved links with agencies such as DVSC – ‘it would appear that links are non existent’ – More willingness to assist on an advisory basis, more sympathetic, more communicative – Embrace the 21 st Century – DCC viewed as prehistoric/dinosaur attitudes – Contract terms - reduction in one off project funding and increase in long term funding. Some social firms would like to fund long term projects

35 35 - What Do Social Firms Want From DCC? (2) - Suggestions specifically from organisations looking to come into Denbighshire, included:- – DCC to be ‘less insular’ – Access to affordable finance – ‘we can bring the models easily enough’ – Innovative approaches – ‘DCC pay half my salary to help set up the service in Denbighshire’ – Attitude – DCC genuine interest to work in partnership – not just palm off service, social firms need their support – Assist the social firms in building relationships with local businesses/potential customers – Help in recruiting people locally to be employed by social firms – Assist social firms to work with other local agencies – Help in identifying premises – Subsidised rent – possibly rent free deals for first year of operation

36 36 - What Do Social Firms Want From DCC? - “They need to be onboard with us, be open minded and want to invest in people. 90% of our income is from contracts, there’s a perception that charities live off grants. Local authorities don’t realise what an untapped resource there is in their back yard, logically it has to be cheaper for them” “They [local authorities] need to throw their policies out of the window, we need to be like neighbours, and good ones [neighbours] help each other out” “They’re missing the trick, they’re not taking full advantage of existing organisations. It would be more cost effective for DCC to contract with us” “The public sector should be showing an interest because they should be looking at ideas that they are going to bolt on to their stuff”

37 37 - The Role of DVSC/Sandy - Many respondents were grateful of DVSC’s/John’s/Sandy’s involvement in their business In particular Sandy was cited as having facilitated networking introducing social enterprises – to one another – to opportunities to contract with the Council Others stated how Sandy had helped with their governance, people appreciated that she was able to identify what businesses were looking for and identifying the right support for them Many liked Sandy’s approach, people describing her as grounded, straight, savvy about business and the balance that has to be struck with social enterprise – key to the success of any Network Sandy was considered a good advocate for pushing social enterprise Just slight criticism received by a few…some were unclear what Sandy’s role was, some felt DVSC as a whole was a dated/twee organisation which was in need of a branding refresh (comparisons being drawn with Flintshire’s modern VSC identity and website ) Some felt that DVSC needed to think more ‘out of the box’, it was also suggested by one individual that DVSC could provide ‘volunteer managers’ on a secondment basis and generally that the organisation could develop more into a broker organisation similar to the Swedish model

38 38 - Summary (1) - Clearly a demand exists for a ‘Network’/SEN Merseyside model in Denbighshire Some would-be members questioned the restriction to Denbighshire alone – possibly too narrow, Central North Wales coverage was an alternative suggestion Support and information dissemination to social enterprises was currently a bit hit and miss Network seen as coordinating function, not duplicating help and advice already in existence for the area Challenges remain: – The geography of the area – The provider - right skill sets, right attitude and philosophy towards social enterprise – The languages – The culture - close knit communities, coastal versus rural Denbighshire – DCC – perceived as not understanding social enterprise, not being made a priority – Defining what the potential partner agencies do – Allaying partner agency concerns about over complexity or duplication of services

39 39 - Summary (2) - Key benefits to social firms – the Network would save time, energy for social enterprises looking around for information to assist them Social firms have a desire to move quickly, a commercial drive – the reality is things are very slow – hindered further with DCC’s involvement – the Network would help achieve momentum Positioning of the Network – keep it real, simple in language, avoid getting bogged down in the social enterprise ambiguous speak – focus on social enterprise being about creative solutions, being straight forward – and coming back to people Whoever delivers the service – pressure is on getting it right first time – these individuals will not come back if the service does not work for them, first impressions will be lasting The challenge in particular will be in engaging the more self sufficient, successful enterprises who perhaps will not want to share their experiences and success with others

40 40 Enterprising Communities Project A Debrief Report Prepared For By Cogent Research & Analysis Ltd February 2014

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