What is the biggest lesson you've learned by taking on social investment?

Taking on social investment can be challenging but rewarding - Big Society Capital hears from the peers on their biggest lessons from their social investment journeys.

For more information on social investment and the North East Social Investment Fund contact our fund managers, Northstar Ventures, on 0191 229 2770.



Case Study: Smiles North East Nursery

After realising that there was a shortfall of childcare places in the Billingham area, the Billingham Environmental Link Project decided to establish a day nursery to provide high quality care and education to children aged from 6 weeks to 11 years old.

BELP, led by managing director Jenny Franklin, is run by the local community for the local community. The organisation provides a wide range of support services including over 60s clubs, back-to-work support and community gardening projects.

NESIC’s fundamental aim is to provide an innovative, regional, strategic solution to develop the market for social investment in the North East and to reduce disadvantage, deprivation and social need in the North East communities.

With a £110,000 investment from the North East Social Investment Fund, delivered via its fund manager Northstar Ventures, Smiles North East nursery, will provide 65 childcare places, create new jobs for local people and generate revenue which will be re-invested in BELP’s community projects.

Andrew Mitchell, Chair of the North East Social Investment Company, said: “At NESIC we are passionate about effecting real social change in the North East, whether this is by helping social enterprises, charities or community projects.

“The investment that we have provided to BELP has enabled it to deliver a much-needed resource to help local residents, and ultimately provide more support to the community by using the additional income from the nursery to fund its other much needed projects.”

In addition to day care provisions, Smiles will also run an after-school club, a holiday club during school breaks and a pre-school breakfast club. The aim is to encourage parents in the local area to engage more with BELP’s core activities while their children are at the nursery or school clubs.

The investment has been used to refurbish the property into a modern pre-school facility. The rooms have been designed specifically for different age groups to stimulate development and maximise educational opportunities.

Jenny Franklin, managing director at BELP and Smiles North East Limited, said: “Smiles will complement the activities of BELP by encouraging parents to take advantage of BELP’s programmes whilst their children benefit from the safe haven provided by the nursery.

“We needed flexible funding with on-going support to refurbish the building and set up the business. The North East Social Investment Fund has not only provided this, but they have enabled us to challenge ourselves and develop the skills we needed to be sustainable.

“Thanks to the funding, plus support from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Tees Valley Community Foundation and our local community, the nursery is thriving, and we have high hopes for its future.  I would encourage any organisation wanting to pursue funding opportunities to have a conversation with Northstar Ventures to see how this sort of finance could help.”

The North East Social Investment Fund has a pot of £10m to support charities and social enterprises across the North East of England, where they might not be able to secure finance from traditional lenders. The fund is managed by NorthStar Ventures and backed by local and national organizations such The Community Foundation, Big Society Capital, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Northstar Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The Northern Rock Foundation were founding funders of North East Social Investment Fund and their investment has now been taken over by the Community Foundation.

How Social Investment Can Benefit Charities and Communities

WHEN it comes to funding, charities and trustees need to re-think the way they access finance to stimulate growth in the North East, as LUCY ARMSTRONG, a non-executive director of the North East Social Investment Company (NESIC) explains.

With fewer grants available, changes in commissioning and greater competition for public sector contracts, charities are having to explore new ways in which to generate funds and achieve their objectives.

To a private sector company needing to achieve its business plan goals, the solution would be clear; raise capital – and borrowing would be high on the list.

In fact, borrowing money is not in itself an innovative way to raise funds – it's always been available to charities – but historically they have steered away from it, relying instead on peripatetic grants and donations.

The funding climate, in the wake of the Brexit vote, remains uncertain, however, pressure on public sector budgets could offer real opportunities for charities and social enterprises in the North East to provide an engine for growth in the region.

The Third Sector can provide innovative ways of delivering crucial services to society. It generates economic benefits, creates employment and makes profit, but it also delivers social impact and outcomes.

And, while delivering social impact, charities and social enterprises are also established on a sound entrepreneurial foundation, where staff are rewarded and profits are generated to plough back into the business.

This marriage of economic and social benefits is already being hailed as an exciting solution to some of the challenges being faced by the contraction of funding from local authorities.

Key to this is social investment, which is simply a repayable loan given to a charity or social enterprise, formed to benefit the community in some way.

Of course, social investment isn’t appropriate for every organisation but, as a business model, there is no doubt that it works.

Trustees need to think like business people. They need to ask themselves if borrowing money will enable their organisation to do its job better, safeguard its future and enable it to meet its aims and objectives.

And, if the answer is yes, then they absolutely should think about borrowing.

The North East Social Investment Company was set up to provide an innovative, regional, strategic solution to developing the market for social investment. It was originally established with funds from Northern Rock Foundation, Big Society Capital, Esmee Fairbairn and the Joseph Rowntree Trust. The Community Foundation have now taken over the role of Northern Rock Foundation

We appointed Northstar Ventures to manage the first fund, the North East Social Investment Fund, which invests in voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises in the region and can help organisations achieve their goals. They have already made a number of really exciting innovative investments.


What a Difference a Decade Makes

What a Difference a Decade Makes

They say that from every cloud has a silver lining and the demise of the Northern Rock Foundation provided an opportunity to innovate and to test new ways of supporting the sector in the North East alongside grant.

How social investment is improving housing for people on low incomes in Glasgow

In Glasgow, the quality of housing and landlord services at the lower end of the private rental market are generally poor. Vulnerable people and those on low incomes living in some of the most deprived areas of the UK struggle to find a happy, secure home.

Homes for Good buys and refurbishes properties, increasing the supply of good quality housing in the private rented sector and improving the standard of accommodation for vulnerable people.

Making Social Investment work for the North East



North East Social Investment Company

invites you to a networking event


 “Making Social Investment work for the North East

Reflecting on what has been achieved over the last two years and what could be achieved in the North East

Thursday 23 March 2017

 9:30 am – 11:30 am

 BALTIC, River Terrace Room


-          Guest speakers     -

-          Networking opportunities     -

-          Refreshments     -

Please RSVP to ellie@hilaryflorekpr.co.uk

0191 285 7100       07831 552624