Youth SEN Study Visit
Over the past few years, Senscot has led a delegation of SEN members to the Social Enterprise Coalition UK`s Voice Conferences in England. This year’s Study Visit was supported by Scottish Govt`s Third Sector Division, as it has in previous years, as well as the Local People Leading Knowledge and Skills Fund.
The Study Visit focused on members of the emerging Youth SEN. This follows on from the initial launch of the Youth SEN at last year’s S2S Trade Fair in Edinburgh. At S2S 2010, Senscot ran two workshops specifically aimed towards young people both to raise the profile of social enterprise amongst young people and also to gauge the interest in establishing a Youth SEN. Following its launch, Youth SEN founding members met to explore reasons for the lack of young people involved in social enterprise activity. Whilst there was acknowledgement that the Social Enterprise Academy’s Schools programme and Determined to Succeed are excellent, there still appear to be barriers for young people in taking the next step into social enterprise as a career.
Amongst the ideas first mooted was to host an event/roundtable. As well as involving young people, it is also intended to invite people who are running established social enterprises that provide services for young people. This event is still scheduled for the autumn of 2011. In the meantime, as a first step, it was decided it would be beneficial to attend Voice 11 as there was a dedicated Youth Zone and to find out if these same issue applied across the UK.
Voice 11 took place at the O2 Arena in London on 29th/30th March. The schedule was to tie in a series of visits on the 29th and to attend the Voice 11 Conference itself on the 30th. Our intention was to give Youth SEN members the opportunity to experience the scale of the UK social enterprise community at first hand, with a view to making links with counterparts in England. This included a series of meetings organised in association with the Commission for Youth Social Enterprise in London.
Tuesday, 29TH March:
Youth Commission for Social Enterprise – www.yse.org.uk
Renaissance Foundation – www.renaissancefoundation.org.uk
Voice 11 – Evening Drinks Reception, O2 Arena
Wednesday, 30th March:
Voice 11 – Attending a series of workshops during the day of the conference. http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/pages/timetable.html
Some Feedback on Study Visit:
What were the highlights of the trip?
• “The highlight of the trip was definitely the first day study visit to the Commission. After seeing what they have achieved over a few years has been brilliant and shows a good example that does work. We will hopefully get the chance to sit down further with those at the Commission and find out a lot more about it. I think another highlight was meeting everyone in the Youth SEN – I think the visit has shown it really could work well.”
• “I think it was meeting other people on the trip and finding out about what social enterprises they were working for as well.”
• “As someone has already mentioned, I think the best thing was meeting everyone and finding out about their projects. I don’t tend to deal with too many people my age in the business I’m in, so it was refreshing to see like minded people tackling different social areas. Contrary to others, I thought the conference was actually decent. It gave me a chance to swap cards with 4 or 5 people who we could potentially work with in the future. It’s the sort of thing that is only very useful once though, I’m not sure I would get the same benefit the second time around.”
• “I found the site visits very interesting and the exhibition was ok (I think
I was maybe expecting a bit more?). Highlight of the trip was meeting all the other young SEN people and learning about their projects and plans for the future – good to meet you all and keep in touch! The next two questions I’m not much use at, as I have never really thought about social enterprise as a whole, just our singular project. But I’ll try!”
What if anything stood out to you as being different in England to Scotland?
• “A big difference (not necessarily with the social enterprises but more with the second day event) was that there is more emphasis on front-line local social enterprises in Scotland – whereas the English event was dominated by intermediary organisations. The social enterprises we visited in London came across as businesses with social benefits (at Renaissance we spoke for 15 mins and the social objectives were barely mentioned) whereas Scottish social enterprises are predominantly heavy on the social aspect while using the revenue generation as one way of becoming sustainable.“
• “I think in particular it was the visit to the reconnaissance foundation on the first day of the visit that actually stood out to me.”
• “English social enterprise just seems bigger and more established, as you’d imagine with a country ten times the size. I didn’t pick out too many individual differences.”
What would you like to see happen/replicated in Scotland as a result of the trip?
• “Having a Youth Social Enterprise Commission Scotland is a must in my opinion. The Youth SEN is something that could be successful and after the visit it has shown a need for it. However, the Youth SEN won’t be successful unless there is more youth-led social enterprises – this is where I see the need for YSECS.”
• “I think Scotland could replicate parts of what was being brought up at the reconnaissance foundation as well as things like being able to help social enterprises financially, etc.”
• “Some good ideas came forward. A website/guide book of how to go about setting up or growing a social enterprise in Scotland. All the information is out there but is incredibly fragmented. One place which would act as a FAQ about legal setup, funding sources, support, SENs available. Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t think this is out there in one place.”
Following the Study Visit, it was agreed that the coming months would focus on maintaining momentum with regard to the Youth SEN. To do, a number of areas will be explored as a `next steps` scenario. These include:
• Agree a schedule of Youth SEN meetings for the year ahead and event in late summer/early autumn
• Explore how to raise awareness of social enterprise to eligible young people
• Identifying bespoke support available to young people in Scotland
• Explore what opportunities may be available via Community Jobs Fund
• Identify mentoring possibilities with more established SEN members
• Discuss developing a bespoke learning programme for young people with the Social Enterprise Academy
• Organise further Study Visits – depending on relevance and availability
• Maintain links with the Youth Social Enterprise Commission and explore what would be required to establish a sister organisation in Scotland
Thanks go to Scottish Govt Third Sector Division; Local People Leading Knowledge and Skills Fund; CEiS; Social Enterprise Academy