How Community Co-Creation Can Improve Social and Economic Outcomes

February 16, 2017 - 0 Comments

Working with Diversity Matters North West (DMNW), a charity and CIC focused on enhancing the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged people; Direct Path was tasked with helping improve the economic, political and social engagement of some of the most disadvantaged and excluded groups they serve.

Focusing our efforts on BAME communities within Tameside, Greater Manchester – more specifically Pakistani and Bengali women as a priority group within that area – our work was to build on the advisory services and people-led support that Diversity North West provides their communities, covering everything from mental health to learning.

Direct Path’s brief was to scope the potential for a community-led social enterprise. Fuelled by three-year funding provided by the Big Lottery through the Reaching Communities Fund, the exploratory project was designed to integrally improve the women’s sense of wellbeing, as well as gain new confidence and skills.

With a shared purpose of improving employability for the South Asian women in the area, understanding the education and training and employment potential of the participants was essential to mapping out employment pathways, and ensuring the resultant enterprise was one that DMNW’s community could run and grow with.

“We have been working with Ameena for the last few months as an external consultant to DMNW to help us to identify areas of developing a viable social enterprise for vulnerable BAME women in Tameside in the form of a pre-feasibility report. Ameena presented her proposal for the work very clearly, incorporating DMNW values and ethos and listening to what we required which made her an ideal consultant to appoint.

We have found working with Ameena a pleasure; she demonstrated an exceptional level of professionalism throughout and made it an easy process for us. She has taken a great interest,and through effective meetings with the Chief Officers has worked with our service users and senior management team, including trustees, effectively ensuring everyone’s views were represented in the final report.

Our trustees were very impressed with the level of detail presented by Ameena for potential social enterprise ideas. This has now provided a springboard for DMNW to start discussing next steps.”

Our approach focused on leveraging the talents of the community in three clear stages;

Through mapping the assets of the community, Direct Path were able to lay out various options for the organisation to explore in conjunction with the women poised to launch a social enterprise. Delivering a workshop with the intended beneficiaries, an interpreter service, catering operation and childminding group were all posited as potential options.

Undertaking a pre-project feasibility study, we explored each of the three service options. Initial planning meetings with key stakeholders provided a clearer picture of the potential, allowing the benefits and costs of each of each of the individual investment opportunities to be mapped out, and legal structures and trading options researched.

With a clear roadmap for each of the models, Direct Path was able to recommend the services with the highest potential. Aligned with the culture and values of Diversity North West, and measured against resource, finance and growth potential in line with community needs, the interpreter service would provide maximum impact short-term.

With the childminder service offering potential for the social enterprise to grow longer-term – a CIC Limited by Guarantee was deemed the ideal structure around which to base the community offers – the model was positioned to ensure the women at the heart of the solution felt empowered and able to fulfil their potential in employment.

With holistic outcomes for the organisation and their communities, plus wider benefits delivered to society and the economy through the enterprise, the project has helped identify how wealth can be created through people, purpose and profit, thereby maximising DMNW’s triple bottom line.