Venturefest 2015, April 14th

Our Partnership will be exhibiting in the Social Business Hub of Venturefest East Midlands, in Nottingham, on Tuesday 14th April 2015.

Supporting the Social Business Hub visitors in their exploration of the newly emergent Social Business sector.

venturefestLogoWe will be working with Roger Moors of SEEM in Nottingham, our client, helping to create new pathways to social outcome for mainstream business. These outcomes are no longer the sole remit of the Third Sector in the UK, with many SME’s particularly, being interested in how they can build social outcome into their business profile, delivery and surplus generation.

We can help you achieve these aims.

We work collaboratively with a wide range of organisations across the UK, helping establish new projects and sustainable community business ideas in schools, children’s centres, charities, social business and community enterprises of all kinds.

We have a wealth of experience in business case development, business model exploration, budgeting and business plans – as well as expertise in ethical business operations, marketing and delivery.

We are particularly strong in the childcare, education and literacy sectors. Finding new ways to add value to traditional supply chains and helping to introduce new models of ‘learning and earning’ into traditional institutions and settings.

Bringing together the best of enterprise creation, third sector social gain and mediated management across our whole sector experience. We specialise, as a Partnership, in the following areas…

  • Social Business and Charity Development
  • Education, Early Years and Literacy
  • Funding and Governance Support
  • Web, New Media and original Content Creation

You can still register for your free ticket for Venturefest East Midlands 2015 in Nottingham here.

If you are passing the Social Business Hub, call and see how we might help your business ‘go social’. We’ll be pleased to see you.

See our catalogue of services at Dolphinbookbox here…


Making Ideas Work… training at Canada Water Library


m IMG 0687You know that feeling when you have a great idea but the overload of work just weighs you down? Before that happens, don’t let the idea get squashed…. Build Something you Love!

On March 25th our partnership team spent the day with a wonderful group of people, in Canada Water Library, to do just that… Building Something Special. From ideas and concepts to how setting up an organisation in the right framework will benefit the project immensely.

We were working in connection with Church Urban Fund, Near Neighbours and Rev’d Tim Clapton and the people were all connected with Near Neighbours and working as a faith organisation or in connection with faith groups.

What did we discuss? A huge array of the aspects on setting up an organisation, the ethical stance that community projects have at their core, and the passion for supporting and developing people as paramount.

People had come from different communities in London and their set up organisations included;
World of Faith, Clapton/Hackney Gardening, World Beaters, Future 4 All, Alternatives, iiChild, British Rastafari, Community Organising Malawi, VOTY Project, St Mark’s Dalston Junction.

SmithMartin have created to provide a continual supply of up to date information.

Pleased to support communities.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP

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Image: Canada Water Library

Social Incubator North now active…

seedlingPic44There is a new feeling of enterprise and social business generation abroad in the North of England.

Social Incubator North is now taking applications for the new fund, offering support, encouragement and practical assistance to entrepreneurs and nascent social businesses in the North.


The Fund offers…

  • On-going, specialist advice and support
  • Assistance with your staged development
  • Up to £25k of investment available with contacts to other investors
  • 80 hours of one to one development support
  • The opportunity to network and learn from peer groups

‘Social Incubator Fund is Government initiative that offers investment, bespoke business support and access to expertise to grow entrepreneurial ideas into glorious fruition.Its aim is to nurture social businesses from a grassroots level.

Social Incubator North received just over £1m from the UK-wide £10m Social Incubator Fund from the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society. This was match funded by the delivery partners to create a total fund of just over £2m’.

You don’t need a fully formed idea to apply to the fund, just a competitive and innovative new idea. See more on the Social Incubator North web site here.

(Article by Tim Smith – Tim is a board member of SEEM, a regional partner in the Social Incubator North delivery framework).

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Daycare Trust and Family Parenting Institute to form one new organisation

Image 3

The Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute are to merge under a new name from next year, the charities have announced.

(Image courtesy of Daycare Trust)

This is exciting news for all involved in childcare and the needs of families in our country. Whilst retaining all the excellent campaigning and research arm of Daycare Trust, there will be direct linkage with the needs of families and parents from the Family and Parenting Institute.

Now,when so many families are finding life harder than ever,the new organisation will have enormous scope for improving lives.

Chief executive of the Daycare Trust, Anand Shukla, will lead the organisation from January 2013, when a new name and brand for the charity will be launched.

“I am very excited by the opportunity of leading the combined work of two organisations which have such a significant track record in campaigning for childcare and families, and which have both succeeded in securing concrete improvements in policy and service delivery,” he said.

Congratulations from SmithMartin Partnership LLP

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Volunteering in Children’s Centres

Children’s Centres and Volunteering is just the start…

Helping each other manage a life(Image courtesy of Pleasent Valley Children’s Centre)

What better way is there for parents to get involved in their local Children’s Centre than through volunteering programmes?

There is a wealth of activities and services for young children and families from Stay and Play sessions to visits to local outside spaces.

Children’s Centres are an excellent place for families and parents to make that first step in involvement. They have well defined systems for volunteering and training programmes to enable parents to know they are doing the right thing!

Many centres are now very encouraging to parents to join their team of volunteers and become active in the life of the centre.

The real beauty of the system is that in all communities, whether a highly populated inner city area or rural countryside, there is a Children’s Centre for all young families.

Involvement does develop even further and all Children’s Centres are enabling a Parent’s Forum to be in place, many are extending this to parental involvement on the partnership board. It is in fact a requirement from government and empowers the parents to have a voice in the direction of their Children’s Centre.

Sure Start Children’s Centres have been in place since 2006 and although some have experienced some changes in organisation and governance, for the most part they are still a supportive presence for local communities.

Their work is undoubtedly recognised and desperately needed, they have become a real zone for support in a friendly and positive role. Their work with outreach and families prevents many problems from developing to more serious issues. The partnership with health teams and Early Years teams gives children a much better chance in life.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP is working on a pilot project with a national campaigning organisation on how volunteering can be extended and the positive role that it portrays to all parents.

The Dept. for Education has recently published a paper;

Increasing Parental and Community Involvement in Sure Start Children’s Centres.

This can be downloaded here…(pdf file).

It discusses ways that parents can achieve even more in the development of the Children’s Centre. It describes ways in which volunteering, parent’s forum and partnership board involvement, can be extended into parents becoming even more involved in the organisational structure of the centre.

Much to be considered and interesting to chart the next stages of Children’s Centre development.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership – Broadening horizons in communities

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Sydney Opera House

A visit to Sydney Opera House

On a recent visit to Sydney Opera House we had a tour of the inside, listened to stories about the building and how it all works.

It was a great example of work and leisure coming together.

It’s always good to have a balance between work and leisure and sometimes the boundaries are pretty blurred. As a partnership we like to work to be enjoyed. Sydney Opera House is a good example.

This iconic building, known the world over, started with a project from Sydney for a new building on a partially derelict site on the peninsula near Circular Quay.

From the vast numbers of people applying, Jorn Utzon  was chosen because the Finnish judge saw the potential of this dreamy vision of the shell type structure. To plan and design this revolutionary building needed a decision maker and a brave personality.

Jorn Utzon liked to work on the ‘edge of the possible’.

The cost of the building was estimated way below the eventual cost of over £120 million dollars in the 1960’s . Sydney Council raised all of the money through a lottery and the building was paid for in 18 months.

The structure proved hard to produce initially. One night Utzon phoned his colleague with the answer. The solution was a spherical model, of which all the shells would be a part.

Sadly for Utzon a change of government meant that he was asked to work with a committee. He was not prepared to do this and so left the finishing of the building to another team.

Interior, looking out picture - Sydney Opera House

The inside spaces of the building, the foyers and the concert halls are stunning, the organisation is entrepreneurial too and involves the artists and performers in their own organisation and marketing.

Performers can buy a certain length of time and number of performances, for which they operate the costs themselves or sell merchandise and promote as they wish.The price of tickets is arranged by the performer.

In effect Sydney Opera House offers the venue and leaves the rest to the enterprise of the artist.

They also charge rents to other organisations who operate the utilites and retail outlets. As yet they cover 80% of their costs,with 20% coming from state funding.

A good model of enterprise and sustainablity!

An iconic building for a beautiful city, Australian enterprise for a world audience,work and leisure hand in hand.

As they say so often down under, ‘ No worries!’

Roof structures at Sydney Opera House

Sue Martin – SmithMartin Partnership LLP – Enterprise and creativity

The Collected Works

We are really pleased to have been jointly instrumental in creating a new collaborative professional partnership in Collected Works.

This new group exercises the creative energy of SmithMartin and WilsonGoodchild.

The latter is a Lincolnshire based consultancy, passionate and reflective about social outcomes, with a different yet complimentary sets of skills from our core partnership at SmithMartin.

Our lived experience as a social business is always to concentrate on the social and community outcome ahead of the surplus that may be generated.

All consultancies need to invoice to survive, with the new Collected Works initiative offers both organisations, we would argue, can find a way to work collaboratively, sharing knowledge and expertise, along with technical resources.

Tim Smith, partner at SmithMartin said..

We welcome new projects in the same way we did before, but see Collected Works, and the joint contribution with WilsonGoodchild, as a way to maximise the social return from our efforts, whilst using economies of scale and different, but complimentary expertise, to undertake bids, join consortia, undertake enterprise development and research projects.

Sharing our ideas and direction of travel, maximising community outcome and sharing revenue wherever we can…

If you are a single consultant, looking to develop a new project, or to add value to existing work, give the Collected Works a thoughtful look.

We’ll be happy to talk without obligation.

Practical wisdom, now more than ever…

We recently revisited the Gel talk, by Professor Barry Schwartz, of Swarthmore College, from the Gel Conference 2009.

This presentation is about the need to embrace, or rather re-embrace, the notion expounded by Aristotle of practical wisdom. The classical idea of ‘virtue’, which is refracted through our modern life experiences and emerges as ‘practical wisdom’ or phronesis

Barry Schwartz at Gel 2009 from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

The short film above offers a view of this process, or rather how, in the current economic and socially turbulent times, we have lost or missed the key elements of wisdom in our dealings with each other, the institutions we serve or the people we entreat with.

The ideas expressed are as telling now as they ever were during the banking crisis of 2009.

Educators and childcare specialists can also find insight in Barry Schwartz’s talk – offering some interesting observations, as it does on teaching, rules in childcare settings and the difficulties of parenting.

The key message in the talk is perhaps that, following crises, we seek to implement more and more rules to prevent the crisis recurring. The stronger and stronger reliance on rules, Schwartz argues, ultimately deprives us of the moral skill to successfully negotiate our day to day relationships.

This key idea, having the moral will to do right, is intimately linked in this argument to developing the moral skills necessary to do the right thing.

As the shoot from the hip, reactive policy changes in current education, social care, health and charitable environments occur, it is easy to find parallels in the arguments presented by Schwarz.

What is missing, it can be argued, is the moral will of the actions taken. What effect does this have on a person, on a people, not only on the process, not only on the institution.

Professor Schwartz delivers his points in a humorous and easily understood way – making the power and challenge in his arguments even more telling. See what you think…

(What is Gel? “Short for “Good Experience Live”, Gel is a conference and community exploring good experience in all its forms – in art, business, technology, society, and life”. See more on the Gel website here.)

Social entrepreneur – five cornerstones



Starting a business, social or otherwise, is a leap of faith. Faith in yourself or your team, faith in your product or service and faith in your audience, customers or community of interest.

Below are some basic tenets to help your vision endure, each element when applied well will add to your chances of success, generate turnover and increase your capacity to generate surpluses…


1. Get your governance model right:

Whether you want to be a limited company, by guarantee or shareholding, a charity or a management committee within an existing organisation, dedicated to providing a service – then working hard to research, take advice and recognise the rationale for the way your organisation is structured will pay huge dividends later on.

2. Really know why you are doing it:

Understanding why your business and governance is structured the way it is tempers what people will think about your service. Clarity here will not only help you build effective internal management processes, but will also add to perceptions of your value with your customers or client base.

3. Share the knowledge:

Be open and honest with yourself and amongst your fellow board or committee members. Work hard to make sure that the clarity you have is shared and understood by all. Keep good minutes, business records and accounts – share them and talk about them together. Don’t have a ‘closet controller’ at the table.

If you are in the not for profit sector, have a new service and a shiny new web site – use it to publish that ethical procurement policy, use it to explain where your profits go, use it to make sure your mission is evident in your strapline. Don’t assume we will know.

4. Suppress the ego:

Charismatic, energetic and driven project leaders are part of start-ups. The hunter-gatherer can be a great asset when looking for new markets and new product opportunities. Remember though, that in businesses of all kinds the more pastoral, contemplative team member also has their role to play and skill set to offer.

Be bold by all means, but don’t be a bully.

5. Accept the risk:

Risk is part of any entrepreneurial activity. It’s not why you do it, but processes, people and products are never infallible. If you have energetically and intelligently pulled together your team, implemented your processes and delivered your service, then you will also know when the nerve endings are starting to jangle as failure or missed targets approach.

Embrace that feeling and use that same energy to drive forward the next phase of your business development.

Accepting risk doesn’t mean you have to be an Horatio on the bridge, lonely sword in hand facing the ravenous horde as they approach. By sharing and being open you can reach out for advice and help…there’s plenty out there.

(SmithMartin LLP provide ethical business, governance and distribution advice and support across a wide range of social enterprise, charity and private sector businesses.

Our web service writes effective, income generating copy and provides fault free, secure, best value software and hardware solutions – we are your enterprise ‘in the cloud’).