2023 has proved a busy year for the Kindred team, albeit in a slightly different way. We’ve made sure this year that we have the capacity to support the STOs we’re already working with, instead of opening a new ‘money round’. As Kindred grows we work with another 20-30 STOs every year, so it’s been vital to make sure we have the infrastructure in place to do this well, especially in such difficult times.
The first part of that involves securing our vision for an economy across Liverpool City Region that’s kinder and fairer. To match that, we’re collaborating with a number of other organisations on the Social Investment Pathfinder. We’re working alongside partners like Fusion 21, Livv Housing, Capacity Lab, Social Enterprise UK, Power to Change and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to bring local and national funding together, increasing the different types of money available to STOs and growing that from £5m to £50m.
It’s designed to implement the Adebowale Commission’s recommendations to enhance social investment in local social enterprises – particularly Black-led ventures. It will create jobs where they’re most needed, strengthen the social enterprise ecosystem and use the city’s community asset transfer policy to drive responsible, sustainable growth within our communities. This piece of work is being led by former mayor Joanne Anderson.
As part of this, Liverpool City Region has been accredited by Social Enterprise UK as a ‘Social Enterprise Place’, signalling an area where social enterprise activity is thriving. This was announced at the Labour Party Conference, making Liverpool the first city region to be accredited.
A number of different sources of money have been available to support STOs who are working to support people struggling from the cost of living and to scale their STOs with peer-led support.
Our Places Lead Chris Spriggs also spent the autumn working in Knowsley on Women in the Know, pulling together six events to support women working in the social and creative economy there. This culminated in a celebration event at Shakespeare North Playhouse in November, with support for 19 women/ new social business ideas, 17 of whom presented on the night. It continues our work with women-led STOs this year, with a number of small group events taking place across the year to support current investees.
Similar work strands took place with the BlaST network, which ran a ten-week development programme across the spring and summer; and with a group of STOs who are working around the environment, which will develop throughout 2024.
The autumn also saw us convene our Community Reference Group again, which is at the heart of Kindred’s planning and purpose. We’ve kept the group abreast of plans for the Pathfinder, to get their input and listen to their needs from Kindred in the future, which is central to our planning for 2024. We’ll be supporting a new group of STOs with money and time from spring 2024, so it’s vital to understand insights from the Community Reference Group before that starts again.
Our first impact report, released in the summer, shows the success of the socially-trading sector, which has almost doubled employees and turnover in a year, with support. Reviews for the second impact report are now finished, too, so a follow-up report covering Kindred’s second year will be released in the spring.
And finally, as part of the plan for the Pathfinder, the Heseltine Institute commissioned research into property in the region to investigate the impact of owning property for STOs. We launched the research together in early December, bringing together STOs with property needs, property owners with assets to transfer and social investors. Based on feedback from our STOs, we see the property track as forming a significant part of the Pathfinder’s work and this work will continue in the new year, to ensure voices from across the socially-trading sector are involved.
Jen Van der Merwe, Kindred’s directors, says: “It has been a challenging year for social businesses, and businesses everywhere, so we have been focused on how we can support STOs we are already working with, to make sure STOs are as stable, resilient and sustainable as possible for the future.”