We recently heard that we had been selected as a semi-finalist as part of the EU Diogo Challenge Social Innovation Competition. 605 applications were received from 53 EU countries and Community Catalysts made it to the last 30! The competition aims to tackle the issue of unemployment across the EU and invites entry from people with ‘new ideas on how to unlock fresh talent, skills, experience and insights of people who have a great deal to offer to our economy and society. How can we tap into today’s potential to create new forms of work for tomorrow?’ It seeks to find new opportunities to ‘unlock or tap people’s talent’, ‘create or shape new markets’ and ‘enable people to start and grow successful new businesses’
Our reward for being short-listed was to attend a two-day mentoring workshop in Amsterdam alongside the other 29 semi-finalists. It was an amazing couple of days with some interesting speakers, challenging exercises and time to hear from grass roots organisations across Europe about their innovative ideas. At the end of our workshop we were tasked with ‘pitching’ our idea to the whole group in no more than 90 seconds and communicating it in a way that made sense to people who knew nothing about our work or our sector. Anyone who knows Community Catalysts will know what a challenge this was – our idea was complex and hard to distill into little more than a sound bite (Sian writes too much) and I was the one tasked with the 90 second challenge (and I definitely talk too much!). The pitch was by no means perfect but here is the result
‘If we win the prize we will use it to establish a web-base mentoring network that links people in big business with people in little business. We know that this would tackle three problems:
1. People in big business want to tackle their poor image and to connect with their community. They don’t know how to do it.
2. People in communities have great ideas of how to care or support other people. They need advice to set up or develop their own little enterprise.
3. Older and disabled people want more choice of imaginative, personal, high quality care and support services.
We have been working in partnership with local government across the UK for more than 3 years. We have supported 100s of small care enterprises some of them run by older or disabled people (who know what good and bad care looks like). Between them they have created 100s of jobs and 1000s of care options.
To add value to our work we have recently partnered with two big businesses who have released staff to volunteer to mentor small care enterprise leaders. This face to face mentoring takes time, is limited by location and is not scalable. Our virtual network will have national (and potential international) coverage – more big business mentors, more little care enterprises (so more jobs) and much more choice of local care services.’
The pitch seemed to go well and we got lots of constructive feedback and advice. We now need to go away and refine our idea before resubmitting our entry in April. The winners of the competition get 20,000 Euros to spend on implementing their idea. Having heard the ideas from the other 29 semi-finalists we don’t dare to dream of winning – but we know with certainty that the taking part has helped learn lessons and make connections that are kind of a prize in themselves.
Angela Catley Director of Operations