Reading, Sharing, Planning: Think Day at The Reader

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Putting our collective Reader brains together on another big Think Day get-together at our Reader HQ at Calderstones Park.

Continue reading “Reading, Sharing, Planning: Think Day at The Reader”

Social Business Trust backs The Reader with £1.5m support

SBT Logo RGBWe’re delighted to announce the news that Social Business Trust has awarded £1.5 million worth of funding and business support to The Reader, allowing us to reach many more people across the country through shared reading.

We’ve been working with SBT since 2013, when their initial funding and investment of £280,000 gave us the learning and support needed to grow and strengthen the core of what we do. Expertise from SBT’s corporate partners including British Gas have enabled us to develop our projects, measure our impacts and help people who need the benefits that our unique and innovative shared reading model can bring. Thanks to continued support from SBT through this new package of funding, we’ll be able to more than double the number of people we reach from 11,000 a year to 27,000 by 2018.

Adele Blakeborough MBE, CEO of Social Business Trust has seen the effects of shared reading for herself:

“It is incredibly moving and compelling to see the difference The Reader makes to thousands of vulnerable people through its simple model of shared reading groups. We know there is scope to expand The Reader’s important work more extensively across the country and are delighted to support the organisation to achieve that growth.”

MFS_9275Our shared reading groups take place in a variety of settings around the UK including prisons, mental health centres, care homes and local communities. The simple model of reading aloud in facilitated groups is proven to support positive mental health and wellbeing, combating isolation, calming aggression and helping people with dementia. Through the act of reading on a regular basis with others, people can connect with a better understanding of themselves, realise opportunities they might not have thought possible and make changes in their lives.

We’re already helping people like Angela to do this:

Angela from Liverpool has bipolar affected disorder and experienced a full nervous breakdown three years ago. She joined a group at The Reader a year ago and then started volunteering on reception at our head office. As a result of building her confidence and experience, she is about to begin a paid job.

Angela says: “I saw my consultant for the first time in 6 months the other day and I don’t think he could believe the change in me. If I was putting percentages on my progress over the last year I would say 30% natural improvement and pills and 70% down to coming here. If I hadn’t found The Reader, who knows what I would be doing now?”

Thanks to our continued funding from SBT, we’ll be able to help even more people in many more places across the UK.

To find out more about how SBT are helping social enterprises around the country, including The Reader, to scale up the impact they make, visit their website.

The Reader makes the shortlist for social enterprise

Wonderful news to share from our HQ as we can announce that The Reader has made the shortlist for two prestigious awards highlighting the impacts that social enterprises are making both on a regional and national level.

SENFor the third year running, we’ve been shortlisted in the Social Enterprise Network Powerful Together Awards. For the 2015 Awards, The Reader has been listed in the Growth Award category, recognising businesses and social enterprises that have a track record of consistent growth in the Liverpool City region against the backdrop of a difficult economy, clearly demonstrating entrepreneuralism and resilience. A total of 20 organisations made the shortlist from 90 nominations, and we’re delighted to be included in the category – especially at a time when our social enterprises are expanding at our base at Calderstones, with the imminent launch of both The Reader Ice Cream Parlour and Storybarn, the North West’s first interactive story centre for children and families.

Natwest SE100We’re proud to have our impact recognised on a nationwide scale, as we have also made the shortlist for the 2015 NatWest SE100 Awards. 21 organisations from across the UK have been selected from 1,200 organisations signed up to the SE100 Index, highlighting the strength of the social enterprise sector and its ability to create both social change and economic growth nationwide. We’re on the list for the Resilience Award, alongside three other organisations from around the country, highlighting social ventures which ‘continually deliver positive social or environmental change and repeatedly achieve impact goals, keeping focused on delivering their mission whatever the weather’. The Reader is one of only two social enterprises representing the North West on the shortlist so we’re thrilled to be flying the flag for our home region.

The winners of both the Powerful Together Awards and NatWest SE100 Awards will be announced later this month, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed and wishing the very best of luck to our fellow nominees.

 

Social Enterprise thrives in the North West

SE100_Infographic_July2015_29A (2)The North West has been recognised as a leading region for social enterprises in the UK, and The Reader Organisation is proud to stand amongst the top regionally based social enterprises listed in the Natwest SE100 Index.

The Natwest SE100 Index tracks the performance, growth, financial progress and positive impacts of social businesses across the UK, breaking down data by regions and sectors. It includes data from nearly 1,000 businesses and organisations to date, 83 in the last year hailing from the North West, and all of which can be viewed on an open-access platform. You can view and search the Index here.

Over the past financial year, the North West social enterprise contingent has recorded an average growth of 9.6%, a total combined turnover of over £717 million and a combined regional profit increase from £62.9 to £69 million.

The Reader Organisation is listed in the Health and social care sector of the SE100 Index, one of the top three sectors for profit growth in the North West in the last year. Each week our shared reading groups – running in the North West and elsewhere across the UK – are reaching people with social, mental and physical issues in a variety of settings, providing an alternative and cost effective solution to society-wide problems, stimulating wellbeing and social interaction and providing access to great literature. As one of our members puts it:

“The reading group mends holes in the net you would otherwise fall through.”

Our Founder and Director Jane Davis comments on the value of being included in the SE100:

“The SE100 allows social enterprises to benchmark themselves against others and compete with the commercial sector. Profiling the success of social enterprise is a step towards changing people’s attitude to social businesses. Social enterprise is the way forward – capitalism, as we have known it, is not going to survive. Something else has to happen – people must become more important than profit.”

We’re delighted to be part of the thriving social enterprise sector in the North West, and look forward to building on the region’s success in the oncoming year with our continued development of Calderstones Mansion to become the International Centre for Reading and the opening of the Storybarn – the region’s first interactive story centre for children.

For more about social enterprise success in the North West, visit the Natwest SE100 website and Twitter: @SE100

Award Season is Here!

se100 awardsFrom Natalie Longworth, Communications Intern

Last month we made the shortlist for Culture Champion at the recent Powerful Together Awards for Social Enterprises in Merseyside. This month we’re eagerly awaiting the results of our nominations at RBS SE100 and the UK Social Enterprise Awards, both national ceremonies that recognise the efforts of nominees from all over the UK.

Our very own Founder and Director, Dr Jane Davis has been shortlisted for the Women’s Champion Award at the 16th annual Social Enterprise Awards, nominated for the accolade alongside 10 other inspirational women. Not only does the award acknowledge the achievements of women working within their field, but those that empower and inspire other women to achieve.

We’re also delighted to announce that we’re in the running for the RBS SE100 Resilience Award alongside three other fantastic Social Enterprises: BELU Water, FRC Group and John Taylor Hospice. With 27 organisations in total being shortlisted in 5 categories, the awards highlight the strength of the Social Enterprise sector and its ability to create both social change and economic growth nationwide.

As both awards have been newly introduced this year, it’s an honour to be considered at such prestigious awards, but also very humbling. By gaining recognition in this way, it highlights and celebrates the work we do at The Reader Organisation. We’re immensely proud to be nominated for awards of this calibre, and hope it allows more people to find out about the work we do and inspires them to join the reading revolution!

The winner of the SEUK Women’s Champion will be announced at the Social Enterprise Awards ceremony on 26th November in London, with the winner of the RBS SE100 Resilience Award being notified on 24th November.

Fingers crossed!

Tickets are selling fast for SENTogether’s Annual Social Finance Conference, hosted and sponsored by The Reader Organisation

We are delighted to be hosting SENTogether’s Annual Social Finance Conference – which is set to be a fantastic day – at Calderstones Mansion House.

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On 12th September 2014, Social Enterprise Network will  turn the spotlight on social finance with this year’s much-anticipated conference: ‘Capital with a Conscience: A Better Solution?’ Social businesses, funders, social banks, and public and private enterprises keen to work ethically are invited to bring their best ideas to this meeting of minds.

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The agenda will cover everything from the future of funding in the current economic climate, to practical advice for first-timers on securing social finance, as well as exploring the burgeoning relationship between social finance and the public sector.

Speakers will include Robbie Davison of Can Cook, and Helen Heap of Seebohm Hill, who both have progressive ideas around what social lenders should really be doing. Robbie is the Director of Can Cook, a social enterprise which tackles food poverty, and he has first-hand experience of receiving social finance. He also authored a ground-breaking paper on which the first conference was based, calling for a radical re-structuring of the relationship between investors and recipients. Helen is an experienced social investment analyst, and with Robbie, has put forward the new ’Builder Capital’ model, with a view to providing community-based social enterprises with the long-term support they need.

Confirmed organisations include Key Fund, who have provided finance to over 2000 organisations and are a social enterprise themselves, and Big Issue Invest, who have recently developed new funds for the sector. More are still to be announced.

Lunch, refreshments and challenging ideas are all included in the price of your £10 ticket. If you would like to take a stall in the marketplace, please email debbie.felton@sen.org.uk. To book tickets, click this link or search Eventbrite for ‘Capital with a Conscience: A Better Solution?’ For more information, email info@sen.org.uk or call 0151 237 2664.

This event is officially sponsored by SENTogether, The Reader Organisation and Key Fund.

At The Reader Organisation we are very excited to be a part of this day.

Social Business Trust invests in The Reader Organisation

social business trust logoGreat news for the Reading Revolution – the Social Business Trust is investing £280,000 in The Reader Organisation, helping us to reach even more people through shared reading and combat social isolation through great literature.

The Social Business Trust (SBT) was formed in 2010, offering expertise and advice to social enterprises who want to grow and scale up their operations, alongside financial investment. Looking at a social enterprise, SBT assess the obstacles facing the organisation and establish the best possible support from their partners, managing investment and links between enterprises and supporters.

SBT’s investment in The Reader Organisation is its eighth investment in a social enterprise  – others have included The Challenge Network, the London Early Years Foundation and the Shakespeare Schools Festival – and will be made up of a £100,000 cash grant and £180,000 worth of professional support from SBT’s corporate partners. The professional support package, led by British Gas with support from SBT’s other corporate partners, will underpin our growth and business development, defining development strategy and recruiting new positions.

Adele Blakebrough, Chief Executive of Social Business Trust, said of the investment:

“The Reader Organisation is an incredibly inspiring social enterprise. Many people start off sceptical about how useful it can be to encourage people to read in groups, but when you see it in action the impact is transformational and uplifting. We are so pleased to be able to help them grow and reach more and more people with their wonderful work.”

Book close-upSBT’s investment will be vital in ensuring that Get Into Reading goes from strength to strength, reaching more of the people who most need the benefits that come from sharing great literature with good company. Currently, over 350 groups reach hundreds of people each week, bringing positive impacts such as self-esteem, boosted confidence and reduced social isolation. With the investment we can go some way towards achieving the ambition of delivering 1,920 weekly reading groups within five years and engage over 17,000 individuals, bringing closer our vision of providing access to shared reading groups to everybody in the UK.

Founder and Director of The Reader Organisation Jane Davis said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to be backed by SBT in this way. The process to date has been an extremely valuable one, and we are looking forward to learning new ways of thinking and working through the support provided. The Reader Organisation has grown at a rate of about 30% since we were founded in 2008, but this is going to be different! It’s really exciting to be at the beginning of a period of unprecedented yet strongly supported growth which will help us spread the reading revolution across the UK.”

SBT’s partners are: Bain & Company, British Gas, Clifford Chance, Credit-Suisse, Ernst & Young, Permira and Thomson Reuters. For more information about SBT, visit the Social Business Trust website.