Business Support to Health Centres-BIG Lottery

Challenge: The Big Lottery Fund had supported more than 300 Healthy Living Centres (HLCs) around the country.  However, most of these centres were not financially sustainable. .  BIG provided consultancy run support programmes, but these proved overly paper-based.  Our team provided hands-on support to seven social enterprises so that they could increase their turnover substantially. We wanted the results of this intervention to be visible in the course of 12 months, contrasting dramatically with the previous approach.

Solutions: We carefully selected the organisations that had the energy and resources to work in a demanding programme with us.  We identified with them the key priorities needed to achieve tangible results, i.e. if they wanted specific support to complete a bid application for an APMS contract to run a GP surgery we did exactly that in the timeframe required.  If they wanted help marketing a recipe book that they had produced, we sent them a team that could help them to do that. We wanted to show that entrepreneurship is not about talking but about doing, and preferably about making more money.

Results: We worked with a strong group of organisations and in most cases we were able to meet our objectives helping them realise their potential as social entrepreneurs as well as helping them improve their financial turnover. We were also able to build partnerships between health centres in the programme. All those involved came to realise the importance of working and learning from a like-minded group.  We managed to create a sense of momentum that often led to wider partnerships with local authorities and Primary Care Trusts that, in turn, opened the doors for bigger projects in the future.