Social Enterprise Spotlight – Work4Me
Posted: 14 September 2015, in Sector News
In our latest Social Enterprise Spotlight is Sonia Last and Work4ME Co-operative Ltd, a Glasgow based consortium co-operative championing the cause for self-employment for people with long-term conditions. Get in touch with Sonia on 077473 82194 / firstname.lastname@example.org and check out www.work4me.co.uk. Connect with them on Twitter and Facebook too.
Every few weeks we focus on a randomly selected social enterprise member for intense marketing support and promotion. Work4ME Co-operative Ltd will feature in all e-bulletins, on our website homepage and on all our social media, alongside other support, reaching thousands of people across Scotland and beyond.
What’s your social and/or environmental mission? As a co-operative we champion the cause of self-employment for people with long-term conditions by offering advice, support and peer mentoring. Our members are all living with a long-term, fluctuating health condition and have had to find a way of working that allows us the flexibility to self-manage our work/life balance. Self-employment has proven to be the most sustainable model for us but we are all at various stages of the journey so some of our members are volunteering, doing freelance or part-time work or piece work from home.
How do you do it? Our online platform, The Base, is a virtual office where we meet, discuss, store documents, email and chat around the virtual water cooler. We sell our business services such as training, project management, marketing, PR, administration and transcription to small businesses, charities and organisations within the social sector. Working as a small team we operate a buddy system to support one another so that the client receives a seamless, professtional and cost-effective service and the money generated stays within the social economy.
What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? By helping others we are also helping ourselves. We all need to learn and earn and survive so by sharing our experiences and knowledge with others we can help them to reinvent their careers, we can help them to bridge the gaps in a sustainable way. Becoming social entrepreneurs was purely a survival strategy.
What are your current projects? We have run a peer-mentoring programme that provided one-on-one coaching to people investigating the self-employment landscape. We are currently launching our Exploring Volunteering programme, to support those in the early stages of re-engagement, to find some meaningful work that will help them brush up their skills and self confidence.
What exciting things do you have coming up? We are collaborating more closely with the Scottish Government to look at sustainable, person-centered approaches to helping people get into or stay in work while managing their condition effectively. For example we see the need for people to be able to purchase services with their Self Directed Support funds to help them achieve their personal outcomes which could be to build their own micro business. This service would be an ideal fit with one that a Work4ME member could provide and we would like to develop this model.
Who do you want to work with more? In terms of our social aims, we understand the barriers and enablers people experience when trying to balance a health condition with a need for work so we would like to further develop our services and skills around these issues and use our combined experience to help others who are struggling to engage. In terms of our commercial objectives, we want to provide contracted services to organsiations like we do to Crohn’s and Colitis UK. For example, in Scotland we run their National IBD Project, providing project skills, administration and fundraising services.
What’s your biggest challenge? Like so many small, 3rd sector organisations, we have to spend a lot of time and energy applying for funding to cover our basic running costs of administration, venue hire and IT requirements and as you know, this is an ongoing task.
What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Because we’ve come from professional backgrounds, it has taken a lot of conscious effort to curtail our high expectations and get us to slow down and trust the process. Being open and honest with one another and being able to laugh at ourselves has helped greatly.