Kindred invests £1m in second cohort

Kindred has awarded its second round of money to socially-trading organisations in Liverpool City Region. In 2022, we committed £938,500 to supporting 24 STOs – businesses who trade commercially but have social value at their heart. Like the first round of investment, the STOs are supported through a no-interest loan with a percentage of the investment repayable in social repayments by calculating the social value each organisation’s work brings.

This year’s STOs are from across the Liverpool City Region and range from an online radio station and grassroots music venue to bike repair, a community bookshop, and a hair company that supports people struggling with wellbeing, confidence, empowerment and illnesses including cancer and hair loss. For the first time, services from value-led accountancy, coaching and equality law are included and 24% of Kindred’s resources have been allocated to Black-led social businesses.

This year also sees Kindred’s first investment in Halton. Creative Health Initiatives (CHI) Cafe is a not-for-profit community cafe in Runcorn that serves homemade food and organises community activities. The community room allows Chi to host events for the community, such as children’s arts and craft sessions and an environment and nature exhibition.

Director, Phil Thornton, explains how Kindred has helped CHI. “Kindred funding has helped us to explore other avenues of revenue to enable us to become more sustainable in the future,” he says. “The Kindred team are very knowledgeable in their fields and provided expert feedback and advice on how to shape our vision for CHI. The process itself allowed us to really think hard about what we do and how we do it and was invaluable for networking with other STOs across the Liverpool City Region.”

CHI also plays an active role within the local voluntary and third sectors, working alongside partners from a diverse range of organisations in different sectors such as Well Halton, Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery and Tesco’s Bags of Help, to achieve its aim of improving health outcomes and celebrating local skills and talents. CHI has hosted and played a part in events such as Emergency Meals for NHS Staff, Christmas hampers with Big Local and Holy Spirit church, NHS Lockdown Meals and the Our North photography project for young people.

We also made our first co-investment this year, working alongside Key Fund to invest in the community interest company We Make Places, which helps individuals and communities to develop their identities through a variety of creative, building-based projects. It creates fun and focused design and participation processes which help develop a sense of community and leave the individuals involved with transferable skills. It runs a range of projects, including Life of Ply, its sustainable, socially-responsible kitchens; and Urban Workbench, a learning hub which helps develop new skills, builds confidence and gets people involved in grassroots regeneration.

We Make Places approached Kindred for support to grow its impactful community work, including two new jobs, a forthcoming freelance role and moving the CIC away from grant dependency. As a result of Kindred’s investment, it will also be able to provide progression routes for volunteers and attendees of its learning programme, and provide six work placements.

After We Make Places joined Kindred’s second investment cohort, Kindred investigated how it could work with other social investors to collaborate and meet the needs of the STO. Given that collaboration is vital for Kindred’s STOs, this is an approach it’s been keen to try, and the commitment from Key Fund is the first example of it.

Jen Van der Merwe, Kindred’s director, says “Co-investing is all about trust, and the quality of the relationship. We worked hard with the team at Key Fund to align our processes as much as possible, and We Make Places went through their investment process as well as ours. Ultimately, the goal was to make it as easy as possible for our STOs to go through the process, whilst ensuring the completion of due diligence.”