- Geof Cox's Blog
- Small is the new big!
- Social impact is no longer an option for big brands
- What on earth is Social Enterprise UK doing?
- Asset Based Strategy Matrix
- Copyright infringement is NOT theft
- Impact2 Social Enterprise Conference
- Not So Grim Up North
- CASE's 30th Birthday
- Guardian Blog
- The Senscot Bulletin
- The Performance of Socially Responsible Investment
- Social Investment – or the Emperor's New Clothes
- Such a definitions mess that NOBODY can now clear it up?
- Social Enterprise Mark... or Social Enterprise Brand?
- Why social enterprise needs its own approach to intellectual property rights
- Does the social enterprise movement lack leadership?
- Business models based on greed and exploitation
- Not many jokes...
- NHS Social Enterprise Spin-outs - the real story
- Will tendering ever work for social enterprise?
- Learning from the Open Source Movement
- The Guardian & Social Enterprise
- The focus on a few kinds of social enterprise is blinding us to a bigger picture
- What do social enterprise and chocolate have in common?
- From Albania Again
- Guardian Social Enterprise Summit
- A conflict common to many co-operatives...
- Social Enterprise in Albania
- 2010 social enterprise visit to Russia - 1
- Day 2 in Rybinsk: -18°c
- Post 3 from Russia - Back to Moscow
- A typical question...
- Sounding like David Cameron...
- Do structures stymie social enterprise?
- 'Right to Request' tender collapses
- The number of 'social enterprises' just doesn't add up
- Social Firms Conference
- What is it, exactly, we’re doing with Social Firms?
- Social Firms UK Annual Conference
- Social Firms and the CIC Consultation
- What is social enterprise?
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 1 - Moscow, Schekino and Kaluga
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 2 - Rybinsk
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 2 - Vyshniy Volochek & Ostashkov
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 3 - Moscow & Aleksin
- Ostashkov Conference, October 2008
- Selected old blog entries
- Public Service Transformation
- Organisational structures - and restructuring
- Doing social enterprise
- Knowledge should be free
- Associates and trusted partners
- Джеф Кокс, информация на русском языке
Not So Grim Up North (or Why Regional Social Enterprise Partnerships struggle in the South but thrive in the North)
Why is it that while regional Social Enterprise Partnerships in the South of England are dropping like nine-pins, those in the North seem to be going from strength to strength?
I was at the North East Social Enterprise Conference yesterday where the irrepressible Val Jones, who leads Social Enterprise North West, set out the exciting programme for the coming year across the North of England, including the development of Social Enterprise North - a new body to co-ordinate work across all of Northern England. which will share experience of the big ERDF social enterprise development programmes across the North, and carry forward a number of other progammes, such as Shared Growth – at last the social enterprise movement thinking seriously about replication – and the Northern Social Enterprise Academy – itself a replication learning from pioneering work still further north in Scotland.
I would appeal to the remaining regional Social Enterprise Partnerships in the South of England – some of which I know are struggling – to visit Social Enterprise North East, North West, or Yorkshire & Humber to help work out the secrets of success – and to social enterprise organisations in the regions that have closed down to look at developing new more viable regional bodies, modelled on the good practice in the North.
My own suspicion is that the very factors which favoured the South a few years ago – especially closeness to government – made it more difficult for them to weather the change in government and funding environment. As Val said (I'm paraphrasing): 'It's tough, but so are we.'
Nobody better exemplifies this than another strong northern woman – Karen Wood, who leads Social Enterprise North East. When the North East Social Enterprise Partnership ran out of money a few years ago Karen's answer was simple – she went out and earned some.
I know I'm in danger of propagating the 'gritty northerner' stereotype, and perhaps there is a grain of truth behind this mythology; but seriously, how on earth did those so-called 'social enterprise' bodies in the South wander so far from enterprise as to end up just like voluntary sector bodies, thinking of themselves as entirely dependent on the RDA or other governement hand-outs?
The Conference also saw the launch of the excellent Manifesto for Social Enterprise in Northumberland – the best document of it's kind I've seen – which I was delighted to see opens with the statement that
'the term social enterprise is in reality more of a verb than a noun – it's a way of doing things that is common to many types of voluntary and community organisations, not just those that describe themselves as 'social enterprises'
Readers of my blog will know that I've long believed that the attempt to think of 'social enterprises' as a type of organisation (a noun) rather than an activity that might be undertaken by any kind of organisation (a verb) is a canker at the heart of our movement - precisely because it disguises the very real differences in culture and practice between social enterprise and private enterprise on the one hand and the voluntary sector on the other. It leads to the mistaken idea that, if a social enterprise is a type of organisation, well then all you need to do is set one up and - hey presto! - you can do it!
Maybe those Social Enterprise Partnerships that ended up behaving just like voluntary sector bodies missed this very point: it doesn't really matter what you say you are, or what other people say you are – it's what you actually do that counts, especially when the going gets tough.