Finance: Homelessness bodies warm to social enterprise

Helen Warrell

Most homelessness charities are ineligible for grant funding from government and are instead turning to social enterprise to raise revenue, according to a new study.

Access to Enterprise, put together by Off the Streets and Into Work (OSW) and Social Enterprise London, found that charities labelling themselves 'small and intrepid' are the most likely to consider social enterprise ventures.

The results of the study, which was funded by the ChangeUp programme have prompted OSW to form a network to deliver training and consultancy to homelessness groups that want to use the social enterprise model to help their beneficiaries.

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of SEL, said the report's findings presented a challenge to the homelessness sector.

"For those organisations interested in pursuing an enterprising approach, adequate specialist business advice must be available," she said. "To take business risks with society's most vulnerable citizens requires inspiring business acumen and investment, not off-the-shelf, quick-fix solutions".

Linda Butcher, chief executive of OSW, said: "Most homelessness bodies want to support their clients into meaningful activity or towards employment. We are opening a dialogue about what is being offered and where the gaps are."

She said OSW was prompted to research social enterprise because it is "an increasingly popular subject".

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