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Speed networking in Kent

Community Catalysts has been working in Kent for 16 months supporting local people to set up their own small businesses offering care and support to other local people. In the Ashford and Canterbury area there are now 26 community micro-enterprises set up and actively supporting people in their local community. The community micro-enterprises offer a vast array of care and support options for people; from personal care at home to getting out and about through social groups and activities. They can all be found on the Small Good Stuff directory website which is growing all the time!

Community Enterprise Catalyst AmyLots of coloured post it notes arranged around a poster that says 'take off your professional glasses and think about what makes a good life for you' held a fantastic speed networking event in Kent on the 19th of July, supported by her colleagues Lauren and Katy. 52 people attended the event which was opened by Kent County Council’s Assistant Director, Susan Ashmore. Susan’s opening speech detailed the significance of the self-directed support marketplace and the valuable resource community micro-enterprise offers as part of Kent County Council’s ‘Making a difference everyday’ approach.

We asked people to take off their professional glasses and think about what makes a good life for them

Many partners from Kent County Council and the NHS attended the speed networking event including social workers, community wardens and social prescribers. They were given the opportunity to meet the people running the community micro-enterprises in the Ashford and Canterbury area that have been supported by our project.

Our speed networking events are a great opportunity to connect, learn, think about the support community micro-enterprises can offer to local people and help change wider systems and cultures. In Kent, the event was really successful with lots of links made and information shared.

We had some lovely feedback from the practitioners that attended:

  • “I have not been to an event like that before and thought it was great!”
  • “It was so useful to hear from the vast variety of offers available and how the community micro-enterprises can help people requiring social care.”
  • “An inspiring meeting to change the way we work and think more to better the lives of people we work with and also how this project can better our communities.”
  • “It was great to network with enterprises and colleagues. Everyone was so passionate, compassionate and open-minded.”

And here’s what some of the enterprise leaders had to say:

  • “An informative session and a great opportunity to get our name out there!”
  • “A great opportunity to pitch our offer to practitioners and think about how we can target people most in need effectively.”
  • “It was enlightening to meet different people and services and to be able to let professionals know about my service and what I do.”
  • “I made lots of great contacts and hope there are more sessions like this in the future!”

There was a real appetite for similar events in the future – watch this space!

By Amy Harris (Community Enterprise Catalyst – Ashford and Canterbury)

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