David Floyd: Seagulls Paint back in business despite the floods

David Floyd
David Floyd

Many social enterprises were affected by the floods in northern England in late 2015. One example was Seagulls Paint, a paint recycling outfit in Kirkstall, Leeds. The West Leeds Dispatch reported that it needed urgent assistance and support to dispose of large amounts of hazardous material after its warehouse was flooded. Fortunately, things were looking up in January thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign that exceeded its £2,000 target and enabled the organisation to re-open for business.

The social investment wholesaler Big Society Capital recently did its bit for transparency in the sector by publishing its first collection of "deal-level data". More than a third of the BSC-backed deals so far are loans made by Charity Bank. Charity Bank does a great job, but its mostly asset-backed loans are not the risky, unbankable investments many in the sector are calling for.

Nick Temple, deputy chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, recently blogged his views on last year and considered the challenges ahead for 2016. He noted: "What strikes me, looking back at the last 12 months and more, is how complicated and complex things are." He outlined the challenges for social enterprises seeking to engage with the NHS or the struggling social care market. He also raised wider philosophical questions about whether social entrepreneurs should even be trying to get government contracts, rather than attempting to create alternative models. Either way, it seems unlikely that running a social enterprise in 2016 is going to be any easier than it was in 2015.

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