18-30? Start a business with help from the Prince’s Trust

The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme is recruiting in Solihull now.

The programme helps budding entrepreneurs aged 18-30 to find out how to start a business, test ideas, write a business plan and get the business off the ground. 

If you meet the eligibility criteria (below), book an appointment with an adviser on 29th June at Solihull Enterprise Centre.


Are you a UK resident and….

  • Have a business idea you want help to explore
  • Are aged 18-30
  • Are unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week

What Business Support does The Prince’s Trust provide?

  • Training to provide you with the information you need to start your own business
  • One-to-one support with business planning to explore and test the viability of your idea and turn it into a business plan
  • Opportunity to apply for low interest finance of £500 to £5,000 to help start your business.
  • Mentor support for up to 2 years after you start trading to help with sustainability

Find out more 

Visit the website 

Book an appointment on one of the following dates and times:

29 June: 11am; 12pm; 1:30pm; 2:30pm and 3:30 pm

Appointments will be held at the Enterprise Centre, Elmwood Place, Smith’s Wood, B36 0UG

Contact: Alice Granger, 0121 772 9237, alice.granger@prince-trust.org.uk

Download flyer

New home for Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup

Around 30 staff, parents and invited guests gathered to celebrate the opening of Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup this week following its move to School Close in January. 

Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Portfolio Holder – Children, Education & Skills at Solihull Council, officially opened the playgroup’s newly refurbished and decorated premises located next to Kingshurst Primary School.

Cutting the ribbon: Councillor Ken Meeson 

Kingshurst Caterpillars was set up in 2005 and provides a stimulating environment for 2-3 year olds to learn social skills and develop confidence ready for school.

Welcoming guests: Chair, Elaine Herbert (centre) with Playgroup Manager, Kerie Drinkwater (right)

For over 10 years the playgroup operated from Kingshurst Youth and Community Centre, however, re-development plans for the area meant that a new base for the playgroup was needed. Councillor Meesan and council colleagues were thanked for facilitating a smooth transition to the new facilities.

Elaine Herbert, Chairperson of Kingshurst Caterpillars said:

“Although the move was unplanned, it has been really positive for us. Re-locating has enabled us to increase the number of places from 26 to 40. We now have windows and lots of outdoor space for the children to play and enjoy. We arrived in January with 26 children and we’re now full to capacity. We’re a much needed and valued service.”

Staff and Board Members

The event was attended by a number of specially invited VIPs who have supported the playgroup from its early beginnings to more recent years including Children in Need, Jaguar Land Rover, Solihull Sustain and Development in Social Enterprise.

Thank you Ken Wilkinson and Dean Smith at Jaguar Land Rover. JLR raised £2000 to pay for a new gazebo and will be returning in the summer to build up the kids area. Relationship brokered by June Mole at Solihull Sustain.

Elaine added: “We are so grateful to the support we’ve had from our funders and partners over the years. We would not be here today without them.”

Thank you Children in Need! Melanie Connelly and Anna Ducie (centre) pictured with Elaine and Kerie

The Community Enterprise for Success programme has been guiding the board through the process of registering as a Community Interest Company which will help strengthen its financial footing and ability to provide free pre-school provision to low income families in the area.

Manager, Kerie Drinkwater said: “The majority of the children live in high rise flats or maisonettes and do not have access to safe outdoor play. We take children from their 2nd birthday in order that they can access the benefits and experiences at the earliest age possible.”

New outdoor play area

Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup is open weekdays and can be found on School Close, Birmingham, B37 6BN. For more information email Kerie Drinkwater or call 07947 661067.

New enterprise support for Solihull’s voluntary sector

A new business support package is set to increase the entrepreneurial skills and sustainability of voluntary and community organisations in Solihull.

Solihull Enterprise Centre

Launched by Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Growth Hub and funded by European Regional Development Fund, Community Enterprise for Success targets existing charities, community groups and social enterprises looking to develop, grow and become more resilient through trading and enterprise.

Charity leaders have welcomed the new support to explore alternative sources of income to run the vital services they offer to local communities.

Organisations in Solihull are eligible to access free business advice, seminars, workshops and networking events delivered by business advisers from Development in Social Enterprise.

Dave Lane, Managing Director of Development in Social Enterprise said: “The voluntary sector has faced many challenges over recent years due to austerity measures and increasing competition for resources and increased demand for services.

“People may not realise that charities and social enterprises deliver a range of advice and guidance, health and wellbeing, sports, disability support, social care and housing services under contract to local authorities and the NHS. They also offer quality services and create local jobs which contribute to vibrant and caring communities in Solihull.

“Community Enterprise for Success will equip organisations to adapt to market opportunities, build on their strengths and emerge fitter and stronger.”

A networking event on 10 May at Three Trees in Chelmsley Wood is being held to introduce the programme and register organisations. For more information visit www.communityenterprise-solihull.org, call 0121 776 6810, or follow @Solihull_ComEnt.


More information For press enquiries, please contact Ranjit Bansal – 0772 505 3355 or email ranjit@dynamicmarketing.org.uk.

1. Community Enterprise for Success is a business support programme run by Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP which offers help and advice to strengthen existing voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

2. Development in Social Enterprise CIC, a business support organisation based in Solihull, has been awarded the three year contract to deliver Solihull Community Enterprise for Success.

3. Community Enterprise for Success is part of the wider programme of enterprise support provided by the GBSLEP Growth Hub which aims to provide a holistic approach to business support across Greater Birmingham and Solihull.

4. The Community Enterprise for Success Project is receiving up to £150,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding

Sign-up for Entrepreneurs Exchange – 2 March 2017

After a successful inaugural event last year, Entrepreneurs ExchangHolly Tucker e is coming back to the West Midlands!

Entrepreneurs Exchange is an initiative to support entrepreneurs right across the UK to grow their business – whether regionally, nationally, or internationally.

On 2 March at 6pm, over 20 of the nation’s leading business founders are coming together to give free, real business advice to the next generation of the UK’s entrepreneurs.

In Birmingham, Holly Tucker, co-founder, non-Executive Director and Chief Inspirator of award-winning online marketplace, notonthehighstreet.com, which provides the most successful retail platform for 5,000 curated UK small creative and entrepreneurial businesses, will be giving an inspirational talk to midlands business people.

Holly was awarded an MBE for services to small businesses and enterprise as part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2013, and was appointed by the PM as UK Ambassador for Creative Small Businesses in November 2015.

The event is free to attend and is open to members of the public, specifically aimed at those who have set up a business that they now wish to grow. Attendees will find out how established and successful entrepreneurs set up and grew their businesses, the challenges they have overcome to enable success, and the real advice they wish they had been given.

Click here to sign up and secure your seat.

Heading for procurement success

Health and wellbeing organisations preparing for changes in the commissioning and procurement landscape were recognised and congratulated on their involvement in Solihull Council’s ‘Ready for Success’ programme this week.

Karen Murphy, Assistant Director, Public Health and Commissioning at Solihull Council thanked the group for engaging with the six month business development programme at a special event which saw the presentation of certificates and the launch a networking directory profiling the organisations that have take part in the process.

Ready for Success Highlights Video

Karen said: “We know that the process of commissioning and procurement can cause anxiety for smaller local organisations, and not be a pleasant experience if ill prepared. Procurement practices have traditionally tended to favour big organisations and we hope programmes like this will go some way towards levelling the playing field. We are committed to investing in our local providers and this piece of work has flagged up learning for us too, things we can do better. Above all, we see you as our partners and thank you for the work you do.”

Local social enterprise experts Development in Social Enterprise CIC managed programme delivery. David Lane, Chief Executive said: “Since last October we have worked closely with organisations delivering a wide range of services including advice and guidance, advocacy, mental health, recovery support, and therapeutic indoor and outdoor activities. There was a genuine desire amongst the group to identify and address development areas, explore business opportunities and build relationships with one another for the benefit of service users.”

The package of support included one to one diagnostics, action planning and consultancy alongside a series of workshops and networking events open to any VCSE organisation in Solihull covering Effective Boards, Safeguarding, Social Media Marketing, Equalities & Diversity, Financial Management, Measuring Outcomes and Procurement & Commissioning.

Workshop handouts can be downloaded here.


Directory of Health and Wellbeing Organisations Launched


Community Enterprise for Success has launched a new publication to promote networking amongst voluntary and community organisations in Solihull.CEFS Directory_FINAL_04.04.16

The networking directory provides an overview of key services, client case studies and contact information for 15 organisations delivering public health or adult and community services in Solihull.

All the providers profiled in the booklet participated in a business development programme commissioned by Solihull Council and Solihull Together for Better Lives and identified the need for improved knowledge of one another’s services.

The directory aims to showcase areas of expertise, raise awareness amongst local providers and commissioners, facilitate better referrals between organisations, and create a foundation for collaborative working leading to improved outcomes for Solihull citizens.

Download the directory here or request a printed copy by contacting Development in Social Enterprise CIC – email info@disecic.org or call 0121 667 6810.

Young families welcome Small Changes charity shop

Small ChangesA new charity shop that specialises in children’s items has opened in Solihull.

Small Changes, located on Lyndon Road (off Coventry Road), opened on 10 February and sells a range of children’s clothes, baby-wear, school uniforms, sportswear, shoes, toys, books, nursery furniture and equipment.

Karen Davenport, Retail Shop Manager, said: “Parents think it’s a great idea. They are so impressed with the quality and range of items we have for babies, toddlers and older children. Every item donated to us is checked and cleaned onsite and all the funds raised will support our work with local people and families affected by drug or alcohol addiction.”

Small Changes is the first shop to be launched by Changes Charity which supports people to lead healthy and productive lives as they maintain their recovery in the community.

Karen is currently recruiting volunteers for Small Changes and also Changes Coffee shop which will soon occupy the empty unit next door.

Karen adds: “Both shops will be connected so that mums can enjoy a coffee before they collect the kids from school, or pop in on their way home and catch up with friends while the children have fun in our play area. We want to create a family friendly environment where everyone is welcome. Somewhere people can meet, volunteer, access services and gain skills.”

Small Changes is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 4.30pm, 242 Lyndon Road, Solihull, B92 7QW.

To find out more about volunteering or to donate items please contact Karen on 0121 742 9616.

Facebook – Small Changes Charity Shop

Twitter – @SmallChangesB92


More information

Changes Charity enables people in recovery to realise that a life free from drug and alcohol addiction is possible. From detox to supported housing, our person centred development programmes support individuals to rebuild their lives and move from dependence to independence.

Our trading arm, Changes UK CIC, creates volunteering, training, education and employment pathways for people in a number of user-led social enterprises including Building Changes, Changes Gardening, Changes Coffee and one stop shop for the recovery community at Recovery Central our new premises in Digbeth.

For more information visit www.changes-uk.com. Find Changes on Facebook and Twitter.


CEFS Networking & Board Development

Janet Down
Janet Down, Chief Executive of SoLO Life Opportunities, a charity which enables children, young people and adults with learning disabilities to enjoy social and leisure activities

Thank you to everyone who attended February’s CEFS Networking event on 17th February.

A special thanks to our guest speakers Janet Down of SoLO Life Opportunities and Sallie Ryan at Social Enterprise West Midlands.

Janet spoke about Board Development – finding, appointing and working with trustees effectively. Below you can find a number of handouts Janet has kindly shared. Please do check these documents for accuracy and take advice on their appropriateness for your own needs. 

Sallie introduced everyone to Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM) – the business network for social enterprise and social value in the region. More details about SEWM, membership benefits, events and useful resources can be found on their website – www.socialenterprisewm.org.uk.

If you’re a social enterprise or you buy products or services for your business, take a look at the Buy Social Directory – a national directory bringing social enterprise suppliers and buyers together. Free to list your social enterprise and free to browse for your next social enterprise supplier.

Janet’s handouts:

Understanding the Equality Act 2010

Many thanks to Diane Rutherford at brap, an equalities charity, who delivered a very interesting workshop on Equalities and Diversity for Solihull VCSE organisations on 4th February 2016.

IMG_5523Diane introduced delegates to the Equality Act 2010 and how it applies to everyday situations in the workplace.

Download brap’s explainer handouts:


If you missed the session, there are lots of free resources available on the brap website covering a range of equalities, diversity and human rights issues.

Local Charity SoLO to take part in “PARALLEL LONDON” world’s first large-scale disability led event

Launch Photo
Launch Photo – Janet Down (SoLO) with Nick Ashley – Cooper (12th Earl of Shaftesbury), Sophie Morgan (One Show Presenter), Andrew Douglas (Founder of Parallel London)

On Sunday, 4 September 2016, London will play host to Parallel London, a fully inclusive large-scale mass participation run, built to disable barriers and enable independence. SoLO Life Opportunities, a local charity working with people with learning disabilities in the West Midlands are one of the first to secure places for their members to take part.

Staged in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, this will be a national event looking to attract 10,000 participants and 10,000 spectators in Year 1. Parallel London is a new disability-led event that has been specifically designed for anyone to participate, regardless of age, disability, impairment or health condition. The run will be split into a number of set distances (from 100m to 10km) to cater for every age and ability. The ethos is all about ‘shared experience’, with everyone participating in the run altogether at the same time. Parallel London is not just about racing against the clock, but about celebrating the spirit of togetherness and everyone crossing the finishing line.

Janet Down, Chief Executive Officer, stated “since taking some members to the London Marathon to support our runner, we have been looking for opportunities for our members to get involved in something on a similar scale. Parallel offers just this and we are really excited to be in at the beginning”.

If you have a disability and would like to take part in this run, or if you would like to sponsor one of the runners, please contact Janet Down on janet@solihullsolo.org.


For information about the national event call James Lee

Charity Manager, Innovision T: 0207 0343 266 M: 07960 488 280