A major new project aimed at boosting business opportunities for people not in work is already starting to make a difference.
This two-year Inspiring Enterprise project has received £1.45m of Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund money.
The aim is to help 500 unemployed people in the New Forest, North Hampshire and South Surrey to change their own lives and the communities in which they live.
Not-for-profit business support company WSX Enterprise is managing the Inspiring Enterprise scheme, supported by a number of partners.
One of these partners, Action Hampshire is working with Home Group to help its customers set up a social enterprise.
Home Group, itself a social enterprise and a charity, is one of the UK’s largest providers of high quality housing and integrated housing, health and social care.
A social enterprise is a business with a social or environmental purpose that exists to improve communities and make a difference.
Action Hampshire has a tradition of raising awareness of social enterprise and supporting new and aspiring social entrepreneurs to run sustainable and effective social businesses.
WSX Enterprise Project Manager Liz Wright said: “Action Hampshire is a perfect fit to support a group of Home Group customers to set up a social enterprise scheme.
“This will benefit their community and help the individuals involved take their first steps on their journey towards self-employment and financial independence.”
Home Group’s business contracts manager, Jonathan Pritchard said the project presented a great opportunity to provide access to fully-funded expert support for their customers.
He added: “It will have a much greater chance of succeeding because of the help from the experts at Action Hampshire. Our customers can take part in the project in a safe environment and work towards a more positive future”.
Sandie Davies, Action Hampshire’s School for Social Entrepreneurs co-ordinator said: “This is a great opportunity to work with such a positive partner organisation and its customers.
“It really helps that Jonathan and his team are keen to see this work and can offer additional support to their customers to help the project succeed.
“The Inspiring Enterprise project aims to help people gain the knowledge and skills to start their own enterprise and we want people to explore if their enterprise idea has a community or social benefit.”
Sue Dovey, Chief Executive of Action Hampshire added: “What unites social entrepreneurs is their passion to make social, environmental and economic improvement through sustainable and responsible business practice”.
The Inspiring Enterprise scheme is being offered in partnership by WSX Enterprise, Surrey Community Action, Fredericks Foundation and the University of Winchester, as well as Action Hampshire.
Part of the Building Better Opportunities programme, the project offers advice and support to budding entrepreneurs in the M3 corridor region through workshops, taster sessions, training and mentoring.
It is aimed at people who are unemployed and young people not in education, employment or training, as well as lone parents, older workers, people with disabilities and people in minority groups.