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Posted by Sarah Brown on 12 Apr '13

U-Mix opening - a day of social enterprise in practise and theory

Having been involved with U-Mix project supporting with funding bids, business planning and the practical development it was great and quite emotional to see it open today. The event was well supported reflecting the mix of people that have helped to make it successful and a credit to FURD who organised it. Before that I was at the Working Capital Conference which had some interesting comments from the head of Bid Society Capital.

I attended two events today in Sheffield - the first the Working Capital Conference organised by SEYH gave me lots of food for thought and encouragement particularly since I have spent over 20 years encouraging and helping charities and social enterprises to think more commercially. For a long time I felt that few people agreed but at the conference today there was more support even though still a recognition that the sector finds it hard to sell itself particularly the social impact it has. Listening to the head of Big Society Capital, Caroline Mason I was heartened to hear her comments especially about the need to get targeted finance to support things like initiatives under the Localism act and for the regions.

Unfortunately I had to leave early and hope I'll find out about the discussions that happened later but I had to attend the opening of U-Mix a youth centre which is also a social enterprise and is run by FURD a charity on behalf of Sheffield City Council - a great example of a very successful collaboration. I originally became involved writing the bid that won the £2 million + of MyPlace money for the build about 5 years ago and then doing business planning and helping with the practical development as the building went from a dream to a reality. Today I had a tear in my eye as I listened to a young person who had been involved in the design and saw kids playing on the football pitch, singing and dancing and everyone celebrating.

Both events made me feel positive that the future can be good for social enterprises even if it is challenging - effective collaboration can bring success and help change the world - young people now have somewhere new to go in Sheffield and more positive things to do. Congratulations to FURD and everyone involved.

If you need help making a collaboration work click here.