Social Enterprises in London

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    Image: The Hub, Kings Cross

    There are estimated 55 000 social enterprises in the UK. In London, there are estimated 3400 social enterprises. January 2009 The Finnish Institute in London and The Embassy are hosting a visit for government and non-government policy makers to see how social enterprises operate in London and to discuss different models and funding options for social enterprises in Finland. The tour encompasses several social enterprises such as Hackney Community Transport, The Hub, Kings Cross, Greenwich Leisure Ltd, Hoxton Apprentice and Coin Street Community Builders.

    Hackney Community Transport

    HCT Group (HCT) is one of the UK's best known and successful social enterprises. It is an award winning and rapidly growing provider of innovative public and community transport and related training services. Hackney Community Transport was founded in 1982 by a number of local community groups in the London Borough of Hackney with the aim of providing affordable community transport services for the use of local voluntary organisations, charities and community groups. Its vision is social justice and equality for all. HCT contributes towards this goal through the conduct of its activities, by re-investing the generated surpluses within its businesses, increasing employability, by promoting community transport concepts and by applying the social enterprise business model.

    HCT transport services are based at six depots in London and two in Yorkshire. The company operates mainstream bus routes, education transport for children with disabilities, social services transport for older and disabled people, yellow school bus services and a wide range of community transport services.

    The combined Group of companies now have a turnover in excess of £15m. Profits generated from the company's activities are re-invested in the development and provision of the services. HCT business group employ over 400 people.

    Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL)

    Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has taken a lead in showing how social enterprises can play a role in the delivery and reform of public services by combining enterprise, social purpose and customer focus to excellent effect.

    GLL is an innovative staff led ’Leisure Trust’, which started by taking over the operation of Greenwich Council's leisure centres in 1993. Today it manages more than sixty-five public leisure centres in partnership with twelve London Boroughs. GLL is committed to the provision of leisure and fitness facilities at affordable prices for everyone regardless of their ethnicity, gender, disability or financial background. Its aim is to ensure financial viability, meet the charitable objectives, increase employee participation, maintain and expand the services. Any surpluses are re–invest back into services.

    GLL is owned by the contracted staff, who have taken the opportunity to become society members. GLL is guided by a management board, which is appointed on an annual basis by the staff members at the general meeting. The board has representation from a number of stakeholders including customers, council, trade union and the workforce. This stakeholder mix has helped create empowerment, enthusiasm and ownership at all levels of the organisation. In turn this has led to improved commitment and motivation of staff, resulting in an improved quality of service for customers. The GLL ‘model' has now been replicated by 100 local authorities throughout the United Kingdom.

    GLL has a turnover of over £ 30,000,000 and employs more than 2 000 people in London.

    The Hub

    The Hub is a social enterprise and a global community with the ambition to inspire and support imaginative and enterprising initiatives to tackle the world's most pressing social, cultural and environmental challenges.

    The idea behind the Hub is the belief that there is no absence of good ideas in the world but the problem is a crisis of access, scale, resources and impact. The Hubs are places for accessing space, resources, connections, knowledge, experience and investment. They borrow from the best of a member's club, an innovation agency, a serviced office and a think-tank to create a very different kind of innovation environment. They are places with all the tools and trimmings, from work and meeting spaces to printing and scanning facilities. Above all, they are places for experience and encounter, learning and connecting. Users of the Hub can also expect introductions to people they should meet, regular learning lunches and inspiring events, a peer mentoring scheme, film nights, workshops, parties and above anything a great network of people to learn from and collaborate with.

    The first Hub opened its doors in 2005 on the top floor of this ex-industrial warehouse in Islington, London, and now there are Hubs in 12 cities on four continents.

    Hoxton Apprentice Restaurant and Bar

    The Hoxton Apprentice, housed in a former Victorian primary school is a training restaurant, which provides skills and training for homeless and long-term unemployed. The restaurant pays them while they train and then help find them a job in the hospitality sector.

    Behind the Hoxton Apprentice training restaurant is an enterprising charity called Training For Life. 100% of profits from the Hoxton Apprentice restaurant are returned to the charity.

    The last group of apprentices of Hoxton Apprentice Restaurant and Bar are now working in such places as Buckingham Palace, The Commonwealth Club, and Gordon Ramsey's restaurants. The Hoxton Apprentice specialises in simple, delicious food and has been listed in the Michelin Guide 2007 and 2008.

    Coin Street Community Builders

    Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) is a social enterprise and development trust which seeks to make London's South Bank a better place in which to live, to work and to visit. CSCB has transformed a largely derelict 13 acre site into a thriving mixed use neighbourhood by creating new co-operative homes; shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes and bars; a park and riverside walkway; sports facilities; by organising festivals and events; and by providing childcare, family support, learning, and enterprise support programmes.

    CSCB is a company limited by guarantee established by local residents in 1984 following a campaign against large scale office proposals. The company is controlled by a Board, elected by CSCB members. Only people living locally can become CSCB members. The Board employs staff to manage the company on a day to day basis. Profits are not distributed but are ploughed back into CSCB's public service objective.

    Coin Street Secondary Housing Co-operative (CSS) was established by individual members of CSCB in 1987 and assists in the meeting of housing need by promoting, developing and supporting housing co-operatives. It provides advisory, training and management services to housing associations.

    Coin Street Centre Trust (CSCT) is a company limited by guarantee registered with the Charity Commissioners. It was established by individual members of CSCB in 1987 and currently oversees the Coin Street family & children's centre. In the future the Trust will also offer a sports and leisure programme from the public swimming and indoor leisure centre being planned as part of CSCB's Doon Street development.

    Coin Street Community Builders, Coin Street Secondary Housing Co-operative and Coin Street Centre Trust have agreed a shared set of aims and objectives to guide their activities.