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Celebrating 10 years!

12 August 2020 · Categories: Bulletins

We are 10!

As part of the celebrations, we’ve launched a new infographic and have been looking back over our journey through the last 10 years; from the launch of Community Catalysts to some of the amazing people and projects we’ve met along the way.

In the beginning…

Our beginning lies within another organisation, Shared Lives Plus which had been funded by the then Department of Health to develop and test a programme of support for really small (micro) enterprises set up by local people to help other people in their community. We tested our support model in Oldham and Kent, supporting inspiring enterprise leaders like Dance Syndrome and Funky Fitness and Fun (still thriving today). The model worked and we brought all the learning from it into a practical guide. From there we launched Community Catalysts as a CIC, to work with local authorities (and subsequently many other kinds of customer) to help create an environment within which people could use their gifts and talents through enterprise and contribution.

Some of our projects from the early days…

Dudley and Nottinghamshire were early adopters, commissioning our new CIC to find and nurture new community enterprises. There are many examples of wonderful community enterprises from that period who are still flourishing today. Pulp Friction is one splendid instance – an enterprise set up by a young woman with learning disabilities and her mum which started with smoothie bikes and has gone on to become a major force in outside catering in the Nottinghamshire area.

We then started to be asked to work with creative providers who wanted to help the people they support to use their gifts and talents to make a contribution. Hansel’s Enterprising Minds project is one early example in which more than 30 of the people they supported were helped to turn their dreams into reality. We developed long-term relationships with two providers in particular, MacIntyre and Camphill Village Trust, working in different ways to help staff and the people they support to find new ways to use their strengths.

…And we’ve continued to grow…

There was the launch of our membership organisation Small Good Stuff in 2015 which gives small community enterprises across the country the opportunity to share information about the fantastic things they do and to connect with and learn from each other. Membership is free and since launching has attracted over 1000 members.

And Somerset of course. The council challenged us to support home-care start ups in the most rural parts of the county. They had already made substantial investment in community infrastructure and that, together with courageous leadership and a decision to provide everyone who needed homecare with a direct payment with full information about what was available (and an extremely talented Catalyst) led to rapid growth in the numbers of community enterprises. Over the 4 years we were there our Catalyst supported 362 ‘start-up’ enterprises. The enterprises in Somerset supported 1500 people and created 372 local jobs. Collectively they provided 12000 hours of care or support a week.

Then we fell in love with community business. We had been funded by Power to Change to see whether our model of support to community enterprises would also be useful to much larger community businesses who were keen to diversify into health and social care. We worked with community businesses in Telford and Warwickshire, learning from them about the challenges they faced and helping with their diversification. We were awe-struck by the commitment, imagination and creativity of the people we worked with and saw at first hand their power for good in their neighbourhood. We continue to work closely and collaboratively with Power to Change and to support community businesses individually and collectively where we can.

And we became the home of the Local Area Coordination Network and responsible for the development of the model in England and Wales. We have been much enriched by this new addition to our family and inspired by the work of Local Area Coordinators generally and perhaps especially during this pandemic. There is emerging evidence of the important contribution that Local Area Coordination has made to the coordination and effective delivery of local community support to people who are shielded or alone during the pandemic.

And now we are 10…

Bigger, busier and continuing to work with amazing people across local authorities, local communities, and voluntary sector providers. Our new infographic explains something of our 10-year journey – but this is just a pause as we look forward to the next 10 years with many more amazing people making a positive difference to other people and their area – we hope you’ll come along with us!

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