Transforming West Cumbria, mid-term report 2023

PAGE 10 | TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA | PAGE 11 CASE STUDY: Phoenix Enterprise Centre Phoenix Enterprise Centre (PEC) received a Stage 2 Bedrock Award grant and used it to appoint Business Development Manager, Nina Albertelli and Marketing Officer, Mia Huck-O’fee. PEC Executive Director, Joanne Crowe, says Bedrock Awards is proving transformational for the centre and its ability to help local people. PEC has five buildings in Cleator Moor housing local businesses. It also provides an advice and guidance service to people who are unemployed, on benefits or about to be made redundant. PEC also runs a food pantry which helps up to 200 families a year. A review of the organisation with Kate Welch of Social Enterprise Acumen allowed them to identify weaknesses and how to make change. “Before taking part in the Bedrock Award we were stagnant. One of the reasons for that was not being able to afford the staff resource,” said Joanne. Nina and Mia have driven growth. Joanne said: “Enquiries for space and accommodation have increased and Nina has been able to convert the majority of these enquiries into licence agreements, alongside other paid-for services such as cleaning, room hire and furniture hire. Occupancy levels are now 96 per cent. “The quality of the marketing and advertising literature currently being produced is far superior to previous marketing. Mia has widened our social media presence to numerous other platforms, has set up a fundraising page, and she is redesigning the website. A new tenants’ newsletter has been launched.” New income streams have been established including fundraising activities organised by Nina. Fundraising generated £5,864 of income in the first quarter of 2023 financial year, when previously there was none. Nina has also delivered a new project which supported the set up of three new business start-ups. Overall income increased by £12,648 in the first quarter of 2023, compared with the same period in the previous year, directly as a result of the Bedrock Award grant. The appointments also freed up some of Joanne’s time. “That has enabled me to concentrate on governance,” she said. “I have been able to update our constitution and activities with Companies House, and recruit and appoint two new directors to strengthen the board. I have also been able to start looking for new properties that we might be able to purchase so we can create new office accommodation or workspace to further regenerate Cleator Moor.” She added: “Our Bedrock Award has had such a significant impact that I will look back on it as one of the milestone projects that assisted PEC to help our community.” As a result of the work undertaken during Stage 1, all awardees agreed that they had a better understanding of the problems they faced, had a clear plan of action, knew what resources were required and felt optimistic about their future. The capacity building grant has proved invaluable with 85% of organisations stating they would not have been able to take part without it: • “The Stage 1 Bedrock Award grant enabled me to increase staffing levels so I could commit time to the programme. It provided a breathing space.” • “The biggest impact was in backfilling senior staff so that we could engage and do more strategic things.” Stage 2 Difference Made: So far 14 organisations have produced their two-year bespoke development plan and successfully secured a Stage 2 Bedrock Award. This additional funding is being used by organisations to invest in a range of areas from new staff roles, volunteer development, improved management information systems, new technologies to training accreditation and rebranding. Hospice at Home West Cumbria worked on improving income from its charity shops after the pandemic hit fundraising events, and on volunteer recruitment. They will use their Stage 2 grant to recruit staff and install systems to deliver an NHS home-care end-of-life service. This could generate an additional £360,000 per year. “The grant allows them to build capacity so they can pursue this opportunity which they had felt was too risky before,” said Kate from SEA. “They will increase staffing and therefore opportunities for career development and progression. After the initial investment they will earn enough to go forward.” Cumbria Youth Alliance supports youth groups across the county. “We looked at developing a training service for youth workers. If they offer accredited training, they can potentially earn income. That leads to developing other training, for example employability training for young people. The £85,000 Stage 2 grant provides the initial staffing costs and pays for accreditation,” says Kate. Awardees predict the following range of outcomes will be achieved: • Improved earned income and profitability with business services and contracts, • More diverse and secure income streams, • Improved financial sustainability, • Improved quality assurance, systems and processes. • Increased efficiencies and improved service delivery, • Improved evidence of impact and difference made, • Raised profile and awareness. Strengthening services: Joanne Crowe with new recruits Nina Albertelli and Mia Huck-O’fee Main challenges faced by participating organisations: ∞ Lack of strategy/long-term planning ∞ Reliance on short-term funding ∞ Increase demand on services ∞ Organisation restructure/changes ∞ Lack of succession planning ∞ Strengthening organisational governance ∞ Inadequate management systems