Since its inception as LCDA in 1984, the Company has developed an enviable track record of delivering business support and mentoring services for community and social enterprises. Consequently, the team has an intimate insight into development issues faced by organisations in this sector and the challenges of growth and sustainability. Examples of business support programmes delivered by EDS are provided below:
- Co-operate and Work Together, Preston
- Training Grants For Social Enterprise, SELNET
- Support for the Social Enterprise Sector, Liverpool City Council
- Lancashire Social Enterprise Action Plan
- Small Firms and Economic Development Contract, Lancashire County Council
The 'Co-operate and Work Together' project, was a three year programme designed to support the development of new and established social enterprises in Preston. Funded through ERDF, SRB (via AvenCentral Regeneration Partnership) and Preston City Council, the Co-operate and Work Together project assisted new and existing social enterprises in the Preston area through the provision of a broad range of services, such as: health checks; business planning; access to sources of finance; and advice on marketing and diversification.
The Co-operate and Work Together project helped new and existing social enterprises in Preston by recognising their value and responding to their specific needs. These businesses are often set up in response to specific needs within the local community, (for example: childcare co-operatives; community recycling businesses and social care businesses) and frequently offer opportunities to individuals who face disadvantages in the workplace such as those with learning difficulties or disabilities.
The project also provided assistance to community groups who wished to reduce dependency on grant aid by developing trading activities. These groups often fail to access support from mainstream business support services and much of the work of the Project involved building the confidence and capacity of the groups concerned.
EDS was commissioned by Business Link Lancashire, on behalf of the Lancashire Social Enterprise Action Plan Board, to administer the Training Grants Scheme.
Grants of up to a maximum of £2,000 per organisation
were made available to Social Enterprises in Lancashire to assist with the
costs of staff training and development activities. The training was tailored
to meet the specific needs of the business and cover such skills as leadership,
business planning and financial management and forecasting.
The training grants formed a key part of the wider Lancashire Social Enterprise Action Plan which was awarded £375,000 from the North West Development Agency. The Action Plan offered a comprehensive programme of business support activity targeted at growing and strengthening Social Enterprises throughout Lancashire and included:
- Training for individuals and groups working in social enterprises.
- A range of business support activities.
- Employment of a procurement specialist to work with social enterprises and public authorities to raise awareness and build the capacity of the sector to increase tendering opportunities and ultimately competitiveness and sustainability.
EDS’s role within the scheme was to assess needs and develop in partnership with the social enterprise business the most appropriate training and business support programme to meet their business survival and expansion requirements.
EDS (NW) Ltd was commissioned by the Regeneration Directorate of Liverpool City Council to provide an independent and objective input into the review of the role of the City Council in the provision of support to social enterprises. The Company facilitated half-day seminars for City Council staff with the responsibility for driving forward the Council’s social economy agenda. The aim was to assist key decision-makers in their goal of developing a common understanding of social enterprise’s current and potential future role in a broad range of services in the City and City Council’s role in supporting the sector in the future.
The recommendations of this study formed the basis of the Liverpool City Council’s emerging Third Sector Strategy.
SELNET is a network and trade association for potential, new, emerging and established social enterprises in Lancashire, which provides a range of services to member organisations in support of their growth and development needs. Whilst primarily focusing on social enterprises, SELNET also works closely with the community, voluntary and faith sector, encouraging mutual support and exchange of good practice. EDS (NW) Ltd played an active role in the development and establishment of SELNET, and as a founder member and Chair of the Action Plan Board, played a key role in the management and delivery of the £1m Lancashire Social Enterprise Action Plan.
Between 1989 and 2003, EDS (LCDA) was contracted by Enterprise plc to deliver the Co-operative, Social and Community Enterprise Development elements of Lancashire County Council’s Small Firms and Economic Development Contract. The contract required the Company to provide an integrated package of social enterprise support and development services across Lancashire which resulted in the establishment and development of a wide range of locally based social enterprises including community enterprises, IPS and co-operatives. An important aspect of this activity required LCDA to provide on-going support to these businesses to enable them to become sustainable over time.