Fund reopens to deliver grants to social enterprises in Yorkshire

Key Fund, the north’s leading social investor, is one of five support agencies delivering £16.3m of grants to support social enterprises impacted by Covid-19.

The Social Enterprise Support Fund is now open for a second round of funding to provide grants of between £10,000 and £100,000.

Sheffield-based Key Fund supports social enterprises across Yorkshire, as well as the North and Midlands.

The Social Enterprise Support Fund will continue its focus on social enterprises supporting their communities to recover from the pandemic.

This follows the first round of applications received in December, which saw over 800 applications from enterprises across England, requesting grants to the value of over £37m.

The fund is available to social enterprises if most of their beneficiaries are in England, and their annual income has been between £20,000 and £1.8m in either of the last two financial years.

Key Fund joins Big Issue Invest, Resonance, the School for Social Entrepreneurs and UnLtd to jointly deliver the grants, aiming to help 500 enterprises.

The COVID-19 crisis continues to disproportionately hurt communities who already experience social and economic inequalities.

The fund will support social entrepreneurs who help these communities, including leaders with lived experience, and ensure they can put their solutions into practice to help people most impacted by the crisis.

The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises will be at the heart of community recovery from this crisis. Social enterprises create economic growth while helping people in need or improving the environment.

The economic and social impact of COVID-19 has laid bare structural inequalities in our society. People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, disabled people, people with lower educational outcomes, those on lower incomes, and the young have been hit the hardest by the crisis.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have also been more affected by business shutdowns and suffered a drop in earnings nearly three times larger than their white counterparts.

Key Fund

The fund is committed to inclusion, working to ensure that the at least 50% of grants reach groups that are led by people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities; LGBTQ+ communities; disabled people; and/or leaders with lived experience of the issues their social enterprise is addressing.

Welcoming the reopening of the fund Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund, said: “The UK’s social enterprises have been at the heart of community survival and recovery during the pandemic. In a post-Covid world, where the inequalities within society are even starker, the work of these organisations will be needed more than ever.

"This grant funding has already proven to be a lifeline to many social enterprises and the communities they work in, and so we welcome this second round of financial support.”

For more information and to apply social enterprise should visit socialenterprisesupportfund.org.uk.

Key Fund CEO Matt Smith

YORKSHIRE CASE STUDY

Omnis Circumvado is a social enterprise based in Huddersfield which operates across West Yorkshire.

Key Fund gave a £28k grant from the first round of the Social Enterprise Support Fund.

It was co-founded by Louis Speight, 31, who is a former Paralympian, born with cerebral palsy.

Omnis Circumvado, Latin for ‘all encompassing’, was founded by Richard Szostak and Louis Speight in 2018.

Specialist sports coaches, they work with children, young people, and adults with the most complex needs in school and community settings.

Key Fund gave a £28k grant to specialist sports coaches Omnis Circumvado - co-founded by former Paralympian Louis Speight

The pair work within care homes, day centres, schools and with specific community disability groups. All these programmes are free to access.

Louis, 31, wasn’t going to let a global pandemic stop him. He is an impassioned coach and social entrepreneur, with lived experience.

As a teenager, he struggled with eating disorder and school bullies. Born with cerebral palsy, he worked hard to earn a scholarship to study sports science, specialising in clinical rehab. He went on to become a European record-breaking Paralympian, ranked at one point, no.1.

Through Covid, unlike many organisations in their field, they continued a lot of in-person delivery.

“We didn’t go down the Zoom route. A lot of our participants and people we want to reach are already suffering through isolation pre-pandemic.”

Louis felt it was detrimental to those young people to give them another reason to sit on the sofa with an iPad, when faced with the accumulative problems of poverty, sedentary lifestyles and isolation.

“The point of us is to work with the most disadvantaged, either by circumstance or need. The people we work with really would miss out otherwise.”

Louis said: “In one of the day centres, the elderly BAME adults with complex needs have a good meal, they’re warm and looked after, they get personal care and then we go in and give them a little physical activity and have a great time.

That’s how you do it. Not expecting someone who is potentially cold and hungry sat at home expecting them to log onto a Zoom session to dance about.

Some do it successfully, but it’s not the correct approach for us, particularly given what many of our users have been through.”

During Covid, Louis was constantly watching the news for the latest revised restrictions, and adapting what they could offer, from working in bubbles in schools to equipment drops with session plans.

“I’m proud we managed to find ways to keep it working, and actually we’ve brought back every single programme pre-pandemic and added to it as well.”

Financially, they were hit during Covid, particularly with their work in community settings.

“Although the commercial income took a significant hit, we were able to offset that by government schemes and grant funds, and equally re-invest part of that grant money into the community.

We spent £700 feeding children in south Leeds over the summer, and helped secure funding for a local foodbank to move into a self-contained unit to be more Covid secure, because nutrition and sport go hand-in-hand, they’re one of our community partners.”

Louis said: “When this fund came up it just felt ideal. Now we can offer fixed-term part-time contracts on a set rate.”

Currently they are able to reach at least 517 beneficiaries with complex needs a week. Once the new staff are properly embedded, they hope to double that reach.

The staffing will help future-proof the enterprise, as well as help it grow.

Key Fund supported Omnis from the start, and also through the first lockdown.

Louis said: “With Key Fund, you just feel you can trust them and that’s massive. Listen, if it weren’t for them none of this would be possible.”

LINKS

Twitter: @KeyFundIFG