For the last two days myself and our Business Develop Manager, Darren, have been at the Good Deals Conference in Birmingham.
Sponsored by Natwest, the event brings together a broad range of individuals from across the globe to talk about the concept of social enterprise; the philosophy, funding and approach of social business. The whole experience has helped us to refocus our attention on the focus for our business, Harmless.
Harmless is a social enterprise. A CIC.
Harmless began in 2007 after a lot of planning and dreaming and sacrifice and when Amy (our other co-founder) and I envisaged the future for Harmless, we knew we needed to do things differently. We help people that self harm; those in mental distress; those that might contemplate or attempt suicide. We deal with complex social and psychological issues and are here to help those facing such human pain, to overcome their struggles and have a thriving and safe life.
We need to be able to help people, consistently, sustainably, reliably. We need to make money to ensure that those activities are consistent for our clients, so that they have the time, space and opportunity to get the help that they need and that money has to come from somewhere.
When people meet me they often think that I am a little zany. Quirky, is the term often used to describe me. I think outside the box. I’m passionate and ultimately, I am a social entrepreneur.
When I first pitched the idea of Harmless to a funder, they told me that it wouldn’t work. That Harmless was a charity, not a business. We disagreed.
Harmless is a social enterprise; it was then, it is now – and a successful one at that. It makes money to spend money on our clients. We sell products and services, to ensure that we have the funds to commit to helping people who otherwise wouldn’t be helped. In times when it is still extremely difficult to get funding to help people in distress in the way that we help them, we are forced to find alternative solutions and our way is to do that through business activities.
And over the past few days I sat amongst and listening to people that share our philosophy as an organisation and certainly mine, as a leader. I think big. I am ambitious. I believe that we can save lives if we drive our service in the right direction. I am prepared to do what I have to do, learn what I have to learn and give what I have to give, to ensure that our service helps those in most need. I have revisited my whole approach to leadership and the organisational ethos that has always existed but now with renewed vigour and assurance that our approach is the right one for us.
I am like Marmite. People love me or hate me, but hopefully they always respect my integrity and drive.
Harmless is a social enterprise.
I am a social entrepreneur.
We save lives.