Doing a great deal more - why we buy social

Poached Creative is a writing and communications company that builds social value into everything we do. We're proud to have provided the campaign creative for Social Enterprise UK's new year-long campaign: Do a great deal - BUY social.

As well as ensuring our communications services and training programmes create genuine opportunities for unemployed and disadvantaged people, we look beyond our own activities to see how our business can have a social impact elsewhere.

To run effectively, we need training for our staff, CRB checks for our volunteers, environmentally responsible printing services and ethical banking. Buying these services from other social enterprises means we can make an even greater impact across communities. Over the last three years we’ve found a few brilliant organisations to work with and we’re always on the hunt for more.

Who do we buy social from?

A youth media agency that develops young disadvantaged people into careers in the creative industries, Mediorite is our delivery partner of choice for youth and media projects. Together we have worked on the BBC Radio One Hackney Academy, Peabody’s Staying Safe campaign, Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social campaign, Discover Young Hackney festival materials and communicaitons support for local charity Off Centre.

Print co-operative Calverts provides high quality, environmentally sustainable printing services and has supported us with poster campaigns, art exhibitions, marketing materials and more.

A bank that puts social change, social benefit and community involvement at the heart of its business, Unity Trust Bank provides our day-to-day banking services.

Youth charity SkyWay provides a place to go and positive activities for Hackney’s young people as a real alternative to gang culture. Its enterprise arm provides super-fast, no fuss CRB checking services for our volunteers and new recruits.

Training and development for volunteers and staff are a big part of our commitment to the people who make up Poached Creative. Social enterprises Striding Out and Social Spider are two training providers we’ve recently used to build skills within our team. Supporting Striding Out means we’re also empowering young people to achieve their potential, while Social Spider’s work on mental health issues and community journalism is close to our hearts.

Who does a great deal more with us?
Social Enterprise UK used us for the design and messaging for its new year-long Buy Social campaign.

Business in the Community and arc buy our web content, report writing and photography services.

Westway Development Trust used our writing and editing services for its 40th anniversary book.

Seamless supports people who are sight impaired, have disabilities and who care for others. We developed their website and marketing materials and support them with events and PR.

LKMco works across across the education, youth and policy sectors to ensure all young people receive the support they need to make a fulfilling transition to adulthood. We designed their latest report into teachers and their unions.

Transitions supports highly skilled refugees through their transition to full-time professional work in the UK. We’re supporting them with their communications strategy and messages for employers.

Healthy Planet benefits from our blogging and PR support.

London Centre for Social Impact helps grassroots organisations make a lasting difference to their communities and used us for their print marketing materials.

Camden Calling refers people to our training programmes.

We also work for charities, housing associations and local government. See our online portfolio.

Join the campaign - blog, tweet (#buysocial) or write about your social buying habits and let Social Enterprise UK know. Download campaign materials and find out more on the Buy Social campaign web page

Find out how our sister social enterprise Mediorite gets social enterprises into its supply chain. Read Lucy's blog.

Putting the enterprise into social enterprise

“Not limited by the resources currently in hand” is how J Gregory Dees, known as the father of social entrepreneurship education, describes one of the characteristics of social entrepreneurship.

He goes on to explain that social entrepreneurs are skilled at doing more with less and at attracting resources from elsewhere – drawing in partners and collaborating with others.

There are, of course, other more common characteristics: a mission to create and sustain social value goes to the very core of social entrepreneurship. This is what defines the growing number of social enterprises in the UK – estimated at more than 68,000. According to Social Enterprise UK, the national membership body for social enterprise, a substantial 39 per cent of them are concentrated in the most deprived communities (compared with 13 per cent of SMEs).

Social enterpreneurs are, as if by definition, social first.
It’s the entrepreneurship that proves evasive. For those with social values as their raison d’etre, it becomes a means to an end, part of the fight for survival in an economic climate where funding and compassion are fast drying up.

In time, it’s very likely that the difference between those social ventures that survive and those that fail will be the entrepreneurial element.

J Gregory Dees’ description above brought to mind a friend and colleague who, for me, embodies the collaborative, resource-mobilising characteristic so well. Lucy Ferguson runs a youth media agency, Mediorite, out of an office we share in Hackney, London.

Read the full article in ISBE's Enterprising Matters e-magazine.