Bids open for share of West Sussex social enterprise funding

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Applications for grants from West Sussex County Council’s Social Enterprise Fund have opened for this year.

Social enterprises are invited to bid for a share of up to £300,000 with ideas that benefit the county economy, community and environment.

These could include projects that meet health and wellbeing targets, or help local communities take a more active role in running services.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, August 21 at 5pm, with the recipients expected to be announced in October. Bids for more than £25,000 will be considered, but will only be supported in exceptional circumstances.

A social enterprise describes a business model where profits are reinvested and fulfil social objectives, rather than to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.

Examples of social enterprises include some co-operatives, social firms, community interest companies, some companies limited by guarantee or shares, and community enterprises.

To help applicants, West Sussex County Council, which also runs the West Sussex Social Enterprise Network (WSSEN), has arranged four free half-day information workshops.

The workshop for the Horsham district area will be at Billingshurst Community and Conference Centre at 10am to 12.30pm pm June 10.

A free full-day workshop to help people develop their ideas, business plans and budgets will also be held on July 5 at County Hall North, Horsham. It is not compulsory to attend a workshop before applying.

One successful bid last year came from the Ferring Country Centre, which was awarded £30,000 to help set up a charity shop staffed by adults with learning disabilities.

The idea is for the wider community to see the capabilities of adults with learning difficulties helping to raise awareness of their abilities and dispel misconceptions. The hope is this will encourage more firms to employ adults with learning disabilities into paid work.

Another came from Worthing-based Blueprint 22, a project for 16-25 year-olds, who developed ‘The Munch Box’. The project was awarded £27,500 to develop the skills of 10 young people to design and produce healthier alternatives to ‘junk food’, and then promote and advocate the benefits of their products to other young people.

West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Michael Brown, said: “The Social Enterprise Fund is an important part of our strategy to improve the economy, community and environment of West Sussex.

“We want to see a variety of entries, and would encourage anyone interested to attend the workshops to find out more.”

To book a place at any of the workshops email social.enterprise@westsussex.gov.uk, indicating the date and venue of the workshop you wish to attend as well as your contact details.

The Guidelines, Application Form and Financial Spreadsheet for the Social Enterprise Fund are available to download from www.westsussex.gov.uk/sef or www.wssen.org.uk.

For more details on projects funded by the SEF in 2012-13 please visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/sef