1 Jun 2017

Hope Rescue and The Fern Partnership are amongst the first social enterprises to benefit from Social Investment Cymru’s Social Business Growth Fund.

Hope Rescue and the Fern Partnership are amongst a group of organisations that have recently benefitted from awards totalling over £760,000 from Social Investment Cymru's Social Business Growth Fund (SBGF). SBGF is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government with the aim of supporting social businesses in Wales financially to enable them to grow and create new jobs.

Other organisations to benefit include:

The Fern Partnership, who work with Ferndale Community School to advance the education of pupils and also work with community organisations and businesses to assist in developing the lives and wellbeing of their community, will benefit from £150,000 financial assistance from SBGF. This will support them in the acquisition and refurbishment of an existing children's play centre business, enabling them to expand the services on offer to a wider audience and age range across the generations.  

Fern partnership

Michelle Coburn-Hughes, Director of Business and Community Development at The Fern Partnership comments on the project and Social Business Growth Fund: "The funding received from SBGF will undoubtedly be an exceptional catalyst and support mechanism to the expansion and success of our community development program and will also create a positive and rewarding partnerships with more schools throughout the Rhondda creating attendance reward schemes, work experience opportunities and additional training programmes. We are extremely fortunate and to have access to such a fund. We are confident in exceeding our success measures and will provided further opportunities across the generations including the creation of additional jobs within the community."

Hope Rescue received £80,000 of financial assistance to support the purchase of their own building after identifying it as a key objective in their Strategic Plan 2015 to 2018. The social business are now the proud proprietors of an existing commercial boarding establishment with 80 kennels, exercise paddocks, indoor training centre, grooming room and 18 acres of woodland.  The project will improve the welfare of their dogs, enable them to help more dogs, provide opportunities for the community to gain new skills through volunteering and supported employment placements. The new property will also enable Hope to help more owners through their community projects including canine respite placements for owners facing crisis situations such as domestic abuse, homelessness or hospitalisation.

Hope picture of dog

Reflecting on what the financial assistance has meant to Hope Rescue, Vanessa Waddon, Trustee at Hope Rescue said:"Although we have only been at the new rescue centre for just 8 weeks, the difference it has made to our origination is incredible. We can say "yes" to so many more pet owners and dogs in crisis, the most recent example being a referral from Social Services for a 19 year old dog whose elderly owner had been taken very poorly and was unlikely to recover. Our dogs are so happy at the centre, especially when spending time in our paddocks and woodland. The improvement to their welfare has been truly transformational. We have lots of excited new volunteers going through the induction and training process and they have already proved to be a huge asset supporting our new staff as we settle in to the centre. We are incredibly grateful to the Social Business Growth Fund for helping us to realise our dream."

With over 33% of the funding having already been awarded across West Wales & Valleys and East Wales, Alun Jones, Head of Social Investment Cymru urges social businesses to apply for SBGF support. Alun said "SBGF has proved to be probably even more popular than we anticipated. We've seen some really interesting projects get approved already, with several more in the pipeline. It's not a bottomless pit of money, so I'd encourage people to get in touch as soon as they can. That's particularly relevant in the case of organisations based in East Wales where over 70% of the available funding has already been earmarked. Social Business Wales' recent Mapping report identified finance/funding as a barrier to growth. I'd recommend that the 69% of social businesses who expect turnover to grow in the next two years look seriously at SBGF as a way of breaking through that barrier. Even if you don't have a fully formed business plan yet, don't let that put you off speaking to us. We offer support throughout the application process and where necessary work with you and Social Business Wales to get your application just right".

Information on the two stage application process can be accessed via WCVA's website.  Interested organisations should contact Social Investment Cymru on 0800 288329 to discuss eligibility.

The Fern Partnership and Hope Rescue have both received one-to-one business growth support from the Social Business Wales project. Social Business Wales is an £11 million project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government. It is part of the Business Wales family, and is being delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre. The project offers specialist services to help social businesses expand their products, services and markets, and assist charities to set up trading arms to take forward commercial ideas. It also provides a service to assist businesses and organisations that want to adopt co-operative or employee-owned business models. The project is looking to support 500 social businesses. For further information on this free tailored support:
03000 6 03000 / sbwenquiries@wales.coop

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