Blackburn with Darwen Community & Voluntary Service enables people to give their time and skills to help local social enterprises, helping them achieve a bigger social impact.
Prompted by the financial crisis, the centre’s original idea was to turn the concept of corporate social responsibility (businesses giving back to the community) on its head. The idea was to encourage individuals to give their time and skills to help local startups grow so that, once sustainable, they could create new jobs, boost the local economy and stimulate future business giving.
A year on and following the pilot phase, the centre has learned that while people are willing to give their time and energy to support local enterprises, they are keen to see a positive contribution to the local community or environment. The project has therefore evolved from supporting young businesses in general, to supporting social enterprises and socially oriented businesses.
The centre has supported a range of social ventures, with areas spanning education, recycling, health, social care and more, helping them to increase their capacity and impact.
The project is proving to be win-win – tackling social issues while at the same time helping volunteers to boost their own skills. With this in mind, the centre has partnered with both Bootstrap Enterprise, the local government Work Programme provider, and Blackburn College to increase skilled volunteering opportunities among unemployed people and students respectively, helping volunteers gain valuable experience and increase their employability.
Blackburn with Darwen Community & Voluntary Service was awarded £48,950 through the Volunteer Centre Programme to deliver the project to encourage people to give their time and skills to offer practical support to local enterprises. The team were awarded a further £48,877 to further develop this work. A further award of £2,483 was made to provide coaching support to the team.