Dragons breathe new life into community causes
Seven voluntary and community sector organisations from across Shropshire are getting new life breathed into their work after successfully securing support and advice from local businesses at a ‘Dragons’ Den’-style event.
The organisations, including social enterprises, community groups and registered charities, were given the unique opportunity to make a pitch to secure the services of a panel of five entrepreneurial ‘Dragons’ at a special evening held at The Academy in Shrewsbury last month (July 2012).
Seven finalists – Confide, Citizens Advice Shropshire, Imagematch, Landau, Young Advisors West Midlands (Shropshire & Telford), West Mercia Women’s Aid, and Autonomy Self Help Group – were each given the opportunity to make a ten minute presentation to the panel on why their organisation deserved to receive free support and advice.
After a series of passionate presentations and some intense questioning, each of the seven participating organisations successfully secured the services of at least two of the five Dragons, who comprised public relations expert Felicity Wingrove of Zen Communications, Mike Surzyn of PCB Solicitors, Justine Vaughan of human resources and people management consultancy Triangle HR, Keith Winter of accountants Dyke Yaxley, and change management specialist Nick Gilbert of Muller Dairy.
Sarah Fishbourne, Director at Impact Consultancy, who helped to organise the event, commented:
“Working alongside the ‘Dragons’ in the weeks and months to come could be the stepping stone these voluntary organisations need to secure more investment for their worthwhile projects, as well as helping to generate a greater awareness for their causes.
“The event was a huge success and we’d like to offer our thanks to everyone involved, especially the five ‘Dragons’, who have so kindly pledged to provide their support and advice for free, and Toby Poulsom, Principal Consultant at The Academy, who gave the seven finalists invaluable training and advice in the run-up to making their final pitches.”
The Dragon’s Den event was held as part of a series of initiatives led by the Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly (VCSA) and funded by Shropshire Council, which is aiming to encourage collaborative working between the county’s business sector and the voluntary and community sector.
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for the voluntary and community sector, said:
“Many people we’ve spoken to within this sector in particular have really struggled to get in front of businesses and potential investors, and the fact that we have a panel of influential business leaders willing and able to offer their advice is simply fantastic. We hope their expertise will really rub off on these organisations, who will be given the opportunity of learning from some of the very best business brains that Shropshire has to offer.”
News of the initiative has spread on a national scale with an article on the event being issued in The Guardian.
The seven organisations receiving support from the initiative are:
Confide have been in existence for 25 years. They provide long-term counselling for people who can’t afford private counselling. They also run professional development courses for counsellors.
Citizens Advice Shropshire helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice and by influencing policymakers.
Imagematch is an employability and training social enterprise company that works with long-term unemployed people that are furthest away from the labour market to support them in the transition to permanent employment.
Landau supports people with learning disabilities and low educational attainment into employment. It also provides pre-vocational support and training to help long-term unemployed and young people prepare for and secure employment.
Young Advisors West Midlands (Shropshire & Telford) are aged 15-21 and provide consultancy to organisations on engaging young people and making sure services reflect their needs and aspirations. They carry out youth proofing of strategies, service investigations, engagement with young people, community issues work and improvement of neighbourhoods and strategic advice to government.
West Mercia Women’s Aid is a lead charity specialising in the delivery of services to victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
Autonomy is an independent, self-funding, self-help and social group for young people and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Covering Shropshire and the borderlands Autonomy has over 60 active members. Autonomy is also a social enterprise which runs Awareness of AS sessions which fund our group and also offer autism specific mentoring, advocacy, advice and support to professionals, our members and their families.