Case Study: Be Wellbeing

Social investment isn’t just for social enterprises. The North East Social Investment Fund is also available to charities who are looking to set up a trading arm.

Recently, Tyneside and Northumberland Mind was looking for funding to help it set up its new centre, Be Wellbeing, at MEA House in Newcastle.

The new centre will offer services focussed on improving mental health, such as workplace wellbeing programmes and individual counselling sessions. It will also provide a venue for the delivery of training programmes for mental health professionals and employers, which Tyneside Mind has developed.

The North East Social Investment Fund was able to invest £150,000, which allowed Tyneside Mind to establish Be Wellbeing as a trading subsidiary, with the aim of generating additional revenue streams to support the charity’s other activities.

The new centre will be pivotal in addressing the needs of local people and businesses, while the charity continues to deliver counselling services for local authorities.

Andrew Mitchell, Chair of the North East Social Investment Company, said: “NESIC’s role is to help create the best possible climate for social enterprise to flourish. We are passionate about effecting real social change in the North East by helping social enterprises take on some of the big social challenges faced by the region, including mental health.

“The investment that we have been able to provide to Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, through the North East Social Investment Fund, will enable the charity to expand its range of services and ultimately provide more support to North East residents and workers around mental health.”

Launched in 1986, Tyneside and Northumberland Mind has grown steadily over the last three decades and now operates programmes across the whole of Tyneside and Northumberland. Newcastle city centre is one of the few areas where the charity had not previously established a permanent base.

Andrew Howie, Chief Executive of the Be Wellbeing Centre, said: “According to NHS research, 1 in 4 adults will experience a mental health problem each year. It is important to challenge stigmas surrounding mental health and we want to bring mental wellbeing programmes into the corporate environment.

“Businesses are becoming more switched on to the cost – both in terms of employees’ health and financially – of stress in the workplace. The training and support that we are going to be able to offer through the Be Wellbeing Centre has the potential to dramatically improve employee wellbeing across the region. 

“By investing in the mental health of their employees, businesses can reduce absenteeism, improve work performance and, most importantly, build a happier workforce.”

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 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.