This week I was privileged to visit B-Inspired in Leicester. This was part of a learning camp supported by the community business funder Power to Change.
Five people from Plymouth joined folk from Hartlepool, Wigan, Grimsby, London and elsewhere to discuss how social enterprise and community business is developing and to see how B-Inspired has been leading development in Braunstone – a suburb of Leicester.
Unfortunately, the learning camp was cut short due to Covid19-Coronavirus but not before we had had a chance to do a brilliant walking tour of Braunstone and attend several workshops on social enterprise and community business themes.
We started the day by visiting several projects run by B-Inspired. A business park – Business Box – felt similar to Plymouth's own Millfields and Wolseley Trust models. Profits from the park are returned to the B-Inspired charity. We saw a food bank, well run but sadly expanding in use, a health centre and a sports/social centre. With five football pitches for hire, it was interesting to see how sport, health and education combined to build benefits for local people.
A mighty fine and spicy curry lunch and 'energising' dance session (I still got the moves) was followed by a workshop on storytelling facilitated by BUD. In the past I've been a little sceptical about storytelling (give me the numbers!) but this was intriguing and fun - no stats without stories.
Then two community businesses – Grandad’s Front Room from Bognor Regis and The Exchange from Morecambe – talked about their journey from start-up to now.
The wrap up event was a pub quiz, where the Plymouth crew did our city proud; coming in in a respectable second place. Networking in the bar followed long into the night…
So, my reflections:
It’s about all this and a whole load more stuff aligning in a beautiful constellation.
We need better pay, conditions, rights and to restore the natural environment. We can have any economy we want. Stand up and be vocal. Stand for public office if you want folks. Run a social enterprise (in any form – co-op, community business, CIC, trading charity, whatever). That way we can create a better economy - one that works for people and planet - just like B-inspired are trying to do in Leicester.
Thanks to The Rank Foundation and Power to Change.