Gateway is the Business with Heart champion!

business-with-heart-presentation-cropWe’re delighted to announce that we have been named as the Social Enterprise Mark ‘Business with Heart’ champion!

Gateway staff and managers went to the Social Enterprise Mark conference yesterday, which celebrated the 5th birthday of the Social Enterprise Mark, to be presented with the award.

We entered the competition by submitting a photo to show why we are a “business with heart”.

Jamie Forbes, Lighten Up Co-ordinator said, “Maxine, our Office Manager, saw the competition and suggested at the staff forum that we should enter. It seemed like a good opportunity to share our work with a wider audience. I suggested forming a heart shape around our banner, and it escalated from there!”

business-with-heart-smallerStaff from all levels of the organisation, from our volunteers to our CEO, took part in the photo. We’re holding hands around a banner that shows around 100 photos of clients, taken by staff as part of their day to day work.

The description to go along with the photo read:

Gateway Family Services CIC works to improve health, develop skills and opportunities, and fight inequalities. We cover areas like employment training, weight loss and pregnancy outreach, and social value is at the heart of everything we do.

The judging panel at Social Enterprise Mark chose Gateway from the five photos that got the most public votes.

Anne Mountjoy from Social Enterprise Mark said, “The judging panel advised that the decision was a difficult one to reach but your entry was outstanding, being particularly strong in showing that your team understand Gateway Family Services are a business with heart – with the linking of hands a strong indicator of this and through your description, putting social value at the heart of everything you do.”

Jamie said, “It came together easily, but the photo – the staff who got together, and the banner showing our work – wouldn’t have been possible if Gateway wasn’t the sort of organisation it is.”

Watch Jamie receive the award from Nigel Kershaw of the Big Issue:

Social responsibility

social-enterprise-mark-300We’ve been members of the Social Enterprise Mark for a long time. We’re proud to say we were one of the first to sign up to the Mark in 2009 – before it was even officially launched. At the time we described the Mark as “cementing our ethos” and it continues to be a standard we are proud to live up to.

But it’s also nice to win a competition like this and get external recognition of the work that, actually, we do as a matter of course. The “social” part of our social enterprise really is at the heart of everything we do. Adding social value is what the organisation was set up to do; it’s what we have always done – it’s just that now, that’s what it’s called!

Last week we also became a signatory of the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility. This meant signing up to an action plan to meet new targets in six areas of social responsibility:

  • Local Employment
  • Buy Birmingham First
  • Partners in Communities
  • Good Employer
  • Green and Sustainable
  • Ethical Procurement

The Charter sets parameters for our work. For example: now we will offer a minimum number of work experience placements for local students, we will involve a certain number of local groups in our fun run, we’ll expand our bike hire scheme by investing in another bicycle, and we’ll recruit and train five more local people with emerging language skills to join our interpreting agency. Most are things we would do already, but now we’ve set smart outcomes for them.

Birmingham_Business_Charter_landscape_with_regAs well as helping us firm up our commitment, the Charter has helped us recognise areas where we could do more – like in the area of “green and sustainable”. It’s part of our delivery to see local needs and respond to them, but the Charter has helped us to think globally too. So we’ve set new targets on office recycling, started a mileage scheme for bicycle users and procured battery recycling boxes for the office.

We feel that as a social enterprise it’s our responsibility to give lots of value. We’re a business, so we have to make the “enterprise” work but, actually, the “social” makes the “enterprise” run more successfully. For example, we recruit locally, and we’ve identified via a recent audit that 80% of our staff live in the areas of Birmingham that are classed as most deprived*. Sometimes these are people who have found it more difficult to get work, so we give them more support and training, but the trade-off is members of staff who are more committed; who understand people’s needs and have a rapport with their clients, which helps Gateway to achieve greater results. When we upskill our staff, we’re supporting the local community and the local economy, and our staff value us as employers.

Signing up to a Charter, or for the Mark, or entering for a competition like Business with Heart, helps us to examine what we do. It makes it easier to find out if there’s scope to do more, and to share with – and learn from – other organisations. We couldn’t be as successful as we are without them.

*resident in deciles 1-4, deciles determined by the indices of multiple deprivation

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