Key Fund

From Wikipreneurship
Jump to navigationJump to search

Key Fund

Top ten social enterprises revealed

The Key Fund marks its tenth birthday with a competition and a handout. One byproduct is publicity for the scale, variety and number of social enterprises in the north.

Martin Wainwright, the Northerner blog

It's excellent to have good news, plus this extremely evocative picture, from The Key Fund, now the biggest regional Community Development Finance Institution in the UK, which is marking its tenth anniversary with a bright idea. After helping to arrange financial support for 2,000 organisations in the region's social economy, helping 175 new business start-ups and the creation of 6500 traineeships plus safeguarding 1822 existing jobs, the fund has published a Top Ten of social enterprises in Yorkshire. Here they are:

The top 10

  • Arts & Creative Finalist: Higher Rhythm Ltd

Doncaster's Higher Rhythm, which was set up in 2001 as a recording studio by two ex-college lecturers using their own personal donations, has since grown into a multi-faceted sector leading creative organisation.

  • Community Support & Information Finalist: Action for Business Limited

Action for Business Limited was established in 1992 to support economic development and social cohesion in the severely disadvantaged area of Manningham in inner city Bradford.

  • Training & Education Finalist: Barnsley Community Build

Barnsley Community Build delivers training and employment in the construction industry to those at risk or unlikely to achieve anything meaningful without support, including young people not in work or education.

  • Health & Social Care Finalist: CASA

CASA was established in 2004 to provide essential support services to older and disabled people through developing a franchise network of employee owned social care providers. Its pioneering model is considered to be the most successful example of social franchising to date.

  • Community Assets/building Finalist: Darnall Forum Post Office

Darnall Post Office is run by charitable company Darnall Forum which works for the regeneration of Darnall, one of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Sheffield. They became the first charity in the UK to run a Post Office in a UK city.

  • Childcare Finalist: Cawthorne Children's Centre

Set in the heart of Cawthorne's rural community, the Cawthorne Children's Centre provides high quality affordable childcare for local working families.

  • Leisure & Sports Finalist: Chapeltown Baths & Community Business

In 1996 the baths were threatened with potential closure by Sheffield City Council. A Trust was formed from local residents and users of the facility. With grant funding and Key Fund loans, the baths stayed open. They have operated to benefit the community for over 15 years as a not-for-profit organisation.

  • Hospitality & Catering Finalist: The Create Foundation CIC

The Create Foundation, a Community Interest Company launched in 2007, provide innovative training and employment opportunities. It helps people who are homeless, marginalised, or vulnerable to rebuild their lives. Working in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the North East, today Create operates premium corporate food services in three locations, a café, and a Good Food Guide listed restaurant.

  • Recycling Sector Finalist: Doncaster Refurnish

Doncaster Refurnish formed in response to two factors: the lack of affordable furniture for disadvantaged people and the vast amounts of reusable furniture being buried in landfill. Refurnish currently works in partnership with Doncaster Council and SITA UK under contract arrangements to deliver a borough wide collection service for bulky household waste.

  • Renewable Energy Sector Finalist: Settle Hydro

Settle Hydro was established as an 'Industrial and Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community' with the specific purpose of owning the Settle Weir Hydro Electric Scheme. The Society generates revenue by selling 'green' hydro-electricity. Any surplus revenue is used by the Society to benefit the local community through its twin aims of regenerating the local economy and promoting the environmental sustainability of Settle District.


The next step in the jamboree is a ceremony at Magna science museum in the old Templeborough steelworks at Rotherham this Thursday, 25 October, when three of the ten will share £15,000 as part of the fund's birthday present to itself.

Key's fund manager Matt Smith says: All of the top ten demonstrate truly entrepreneurial and social spirit. They make a significant impact on local people and our environment. Some of them are pioneering, even revolutionary, all of them offer inspiration to anyone who is thinking of setting up a social enterprise. It's amazing with the right access to finance what can be achieved.

Andy Simpson, chief executive of Doncaster Refurnish, chips in: The Key Fund delivers. It always has done. There are lots of funding institutions out there that make promises, that talk a good story and shine in the eyes of the powers that be, but none deliver like the Key Fund. The Key Fund truly understands our sector, it lives and breathes it, it believes in what we strive to achieve.

Steve Palmer, operations manager at Barnsley Community Build – the guys pictured above – adds: Without the Key Fund support, we'd be finished. They've handed us at least two 'get out of jail' cards. I can't praise them enough. It's not just the financial support but the advice, support and trusting relationship with the staff.

And Steven Mundin, senior manager of Higher Rhythm, says: The Key Fund has been instrumental at key strategic points in our development. We started as one thing, but now we deliver many different services through various strands and the Key Fund has provided vital investment at every stage, allowing us to launch these new brands and concepts.