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, call 0121 776 6810, or follow @Solihull_ComEnt.


More information For press enquiries, please contact Ranjit Bansal – 0772 505 3355 or email

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

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.


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 –

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:

Funding and Commissioning for Social Care and Health

Just a quick post for our health and social care VCSE’s in Solihull.

VCSE representatives alongside the NHS, Public Health and the Department of Health, recently published a review of VCSE commissioning in health and social care which can be downloaded here.

For those of you who want to gain further insight into the review findings and the key issues and considerations it has raised, there is a free webinar being held on: 29th October 12:00- 12:45.

The webinar is hosted by NCVO and will have insights from NCVO’s

  • Public Services Manager Nick Davies and
  • Senior Policy Officer Michael Birtwhistle.

See more and book on through this link

Ready for Success

Solihull Council announces new commissioning and tender readiness programme for the VCSE sector.

Ready for Success will assist third sector organisations to strengthen their ability to successfully compete for future contract opportunities with Solihull Council and by doing so also improve their knowledge and confidence when bidding to other commissioning authorities and organisations.

This is a unique business development package offering organisations co-delivered workshops from adult social care and public health commissioners at Solihull Council and sector specialists at Development in Social Enterprise (DISE).

The programme is fully funded by Solihull Council and backed by Solihull Together for better lives, a partnership of local health and social care organisations working together to improve the co-ordination of services in the borough.

Dave Lane, Managing Director of DISE said:

“This investment recognises the essential role the VCSE sector plays in meeting the health and social care needs of Solihull residents particularly the most vulnerable. We’re really excited to be working in partnership with Solihull Council to support the sector to become more resilient, effective, commission and tender ready, leading to improved outcomes for our communities.”

The programme runs until March 2016 and kicks off with a series of workshops to prepare organisations for the changing commissioning and procurement landscape. A limited number of organisations will also be able to access one to one support.

Amongst the topics to be covered include:

  • Data Protection & Confidentiality
  • Safeguarding (Children and Adult)
  • Performance Data, Measurement and Management
  • Intervention Fidelity / Evidence Based Practice
  • Solihull Council Procurement / Commissioning Cycle
  • Tendering / Bid Writing
  • Full Cost Recovery
  • Outcome Based Commissioning
  • Equality and Diversity
  • DDA Requirements
  • Ethics and Codes of Conduct
  • Risk Assessment / Management
  • Role of Trustees
  • Business Planning
  • Financial Management
  • Communication Skills (including Making Every Contact Count)
  • Marketing / Social Media

View November’s workshops and book here

Social Media Cafe

Social media can be powerful and help communities and voluntary groups connect with their beneficiaries and potential customers. The next Social Media Café is being held on

  • Thursday, 1st October, between 9.30am & 11.30am
  • at The Loft at the Bluebell Centre, Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre, B37 5TN (B37 5EX for Sat Nav purposes only).

Parking is available for free for three hours in the ASDA car park.  The Loft is on the 2nd Floor of the Shopping Centre straight ahead when you come up the stairs.

The session is a surgery session with tables for:

  • Getting Started
  • Twitter,
  • Facebook,
  • Yammer’
  • Help table for people who have any other queries in relation to social media.

Drop in at any time – you don’t have to stay for the whole 2 hours. If you want help with using social media on a particular device – your tablet or mobile phone for example – it is helpful if you can bring this with you.

If you can’t make this one but would like to come along in the future, the Café is usually held on the first Thursday of every month between 9.30 & 11.30 am.  Next month’s Café (5th November) is being held at Shirley Library.

November’s Newsletter is out!


We have another great newsletter for you this month showcasing the enterprising culture developing in North Solihull. November saw the new Chelmund’s Cross Enterprise Centre open its doors and we are also excited to see a second hive for enterprise develop in the form of Chelmund’s Space.

If you don’t receive our monthly e-bulletins and event invitations, you can subscribe for free here

Nov 14_page 1Inside November’s issue:

  • Enterprise Centre open for business
  • Chelmund’s Space – sparking learning and creativity
  • A Moment With… Stacey Smith
  • Writing Better Funding Applications
  • CEFS events and workshops
  • Case study: Wayne Elcock’s Amateur Boxing Club

Read previous issues of BULLETiN



Development Manager Post

Three Trees Community Centre is looking for a dynamic person with Social Enterprise skills and knowledge for an exciting three year Development Manager post

£24,000 – £26,500

Three Trees needs someone who is a sorter outer, a consolidator, a focuser and a let’s-get-this-finisheder. We are bristling with people full of ideas and vision, who dive in and get on with it. We are looking for someone to come and work alongside us bringing skills of focus, administration, strategy and business development. If you have experience in project management and are a solutions person, you maybe interested in this job!
The role includes the day to day running of a lively community centre, designing and implementing administrative systems, working with a range of volunteers, community members and organisations from across the sectors, and developing a long term strategy for the Centre and fundraising.

Closing date for applications 12.30 p.m. Friday 6th December. Please apply using the application form. You can download the application pack from


Note applications need to be submitted in hard copy.

Solihull Social Enterprises Scoop Regional Awards

From left to right, Steve and Sarah Gill (Gro-Organic), Charles Rapson (Colebridge Enterprises)
From left to right, Steve and Sarah Gill (Gro-Organic), Charles Rapson (Colebridge Enterprises)

It was a great night for Solihull’s social enterprises, who scooped two awards at SEWM’s Social Enterprise Awards 2013 on 14 November. Three local nominees were shortlisted in the categories of:

SE PLANET: Gro-Organic CIC
SE PROFIT: Colebridge Enterprises Ltd
SEWM ASPIRE: Charles Rapson – School for Social Entrepreneurs

Gro-Organic CIC won their category and Colebridge Enterprises took home the Highly Commended award in theirs.
SEWM received over 70 nominations for the awards, which are held every year to mark Social Enteprise Day.
Well done to all the winners!