Spare a Thought for…

Portabella RdWe awoke as a nation on Friday 25th June 2016 to the incredible announcement that Britain has voted to leave the European Union.

How and why ever did that happen? As The Economist in the article, A Tragic Split, mentions…” How quickly the unthinkable has become the irreversible”. Economist 24.6.16.

On Saturday morning I was walking in a small town in East Anglia, similar to many small towns with different communities, who bring lots of benefits to local towns. As I walked on the streets I could see many Lithuanian and Latvian young families doing their shopping, they were stopping and talking with each other. How do they feel on this Saturday morning? How will their children feel at school on Monday?

And so as a passionate European, my small lament as a consequence of this reckless decision…

Spare a Thought for all those who now live with us from Spain, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and other countries…

For the nurses in our hospitals who every day look after us when we are sick and ill.

For the carers of our elderly parents and older generation, who every day care for and act with compassion and tenderness to our families.

For the people who work on the land, who every day battle with the cold and wet weather to provide us with cheap food.

For the plumbers, carpenters, electricians in the building industry, who every day build our houses and places of work.

They have come to be with us to make a better life for themselves and for our country, they are trying to make things better. How did they feel on Friday June 25th?

Now we have to live with this decision taken on a vote fuelled by prejudice and fantasy. We will make individual decisions in a different way than before the vote.

It seems inevitable that decisions will be made that will close the door to friends in the EU. As a partnership, we will try more than ever, to ensure that we work and strive to maintain the compassion, care, inclusiveness, diversity, fairness and support for everyone who is and who wants to be in the UK.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP

Awards for Social Enterprise

socialenterpriseawardsLogoIf you are a social enterprise active for two years or more, and can meet the published criteria, you can now apply to the Social Enterprise Awards 2016.

The application process is now open and you will find the criteria and award categories on this page of

The full application process is similarly available on-line from the same site. See more here.

Award categories available this year include…

  • One to Watch Award
  • Social Impact Award
  • Buy Social – the market builder award
  • Social Investment Deal of the Year
  • Health & Social Care Social Enterprise
  • Consumer Facing Social Enterprise
  • Education, Training and Jobs Social enterprise of the Year
  • Environmentla Social Enterprise of the Year
  • Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award
  • Social Enterprise Women’s Champion
  • International Impact

There is plenty to go for. Plenty of awards to reflect the diversity, ambition and range of economic activity with a social heart across our regions.

If you do apply, the very best of luck.

Please note: Closing date for applications is Friday, 8th July 2016

(Source: (Accessed: 10.06.2016)

Helping enterprise grow…

TED Talks Yanis Varoufakis

An intriguing look at society and the power of capitalism and the role of democracy delivered at Tedglobal in Geneva, December 2015.

There is a movement in democratic states and change of power, which Yanis Varoukis argues is having an increasing demise in benefits for all recipients of democracies.

The following excerpts are taken from the TED video and for a fuller understanding of the recent TEDglobal event see more here.

We see democracy as part of the furniture, capitalism begets democracy, but it doesn’t! Democracy is receding in Europe.

Chinese leaders and others have said that democracy would be banned if it ever threatened to change anything. They are wrong if they think we can dispense with democracy.

Without it our future would be bleak, our societies nastier, and our great new technologies wasted.

There is a green peaks paradox… a mountain of debt and now a mountain of idle cash. This belongs to rich savers and corporations frightened to invest in the areas which would dispense with the mountains of debt.

All those things that humanity desperately needs and societies would benefit from to enable enterprise and communities to thrive.

There is a low aggregate demand as so many people are out of work or on low paid jobs, which reinforces the worry for the investor to lend or reinvest the money.
Capitalism grows wastefulness, it encourages idle cash, it should be used to benefit and energise lives and develop human talents and engage with green technology.

Twin peaks which fail to cancel each other out…

“Democracy is when the free and the poor control government.” – Aristotle.
Our own liberal democracies have their roots in the Magna Carta.

There is a separation in the political and economic sphere and today the economic sphere is eating into the political sphere. One can be in government but not have the power, this has gone to the economic sphere which is consuming itself with the mountain of idle cash.’

This is definitely worth further discussion and if we continue to paper over the cracks we will never see the fault line until its rather too late!

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership Working with communities

Tailor Made: How do community groups improve society?


Image 2
Supporting community, supporting society…

Research from the Community Development Foundation shows that vital contributions from small community groups are making huge benefits nationally to society.

Today sees the launch of a research project ‘Tailor Made: how community groups improve people’s lives’; from The Community Development Foundation.

The CDF have developed a specific micro-site, where the range of research into community group impact can be found. See more detail here.

‘Nearly all of the groups identified as being under the radar, are providing tailored services to their community with an income of less than £2,000 a year. With increasing pressure on public funding, we are using this research that demonstrates the important contribution that community groups make to society as a call to action to secure their future.

The research found that community groups are able to develop ‘tailor-made’ support for people in their communities. They complement statutory services because they have the flexibility to meet specific needs with groups of people or whole communities – providing bespoke support.

The types of outcomes of the work being carried out by these groups include:

  • building safer communities: They prevent crime, support victims of crime and support ex-offenders in rebuilding their lives
  • improving the physical environment: They maintain and improve the physical environment including parks, allotments and buildings
  • improving health and well-being: They tackle the wider causes of poor health and wellbeing such as poverty, housing, employment, crime, pollution and isolation
  • improving local economies:They provide training and support to help people into work. They also contribute to economic growth by supporting people to start small businesses and helping people to manage their money better so there is more to spend locally.’
Posted on cdf blog 29.10.2014

The community groups provide ‘lived experience’ of the issues they are working with which provides a unique insight to support other forms of knowledge. The trust gained by these groups makes people in communities more likely to come forward for help and support.

The research project can be viewed on Community Development Foundation website, as a downloadable document or as a series of chapters on the Tailor-Made research page.

It was jointly funded by The Community Development Foundation, Asda Foundation and Trust for London.

Sue Martin – SmithMartin Partnership LLP, Cambridge- building better communities

Community Energy Projects

Image 1Midsummer and a far cry from the dark days of a northern winter. So maybe not the best time to think about energy and energy savings.

When we heard about community and energy we began to sit up from our sun loungers( only joking!) and start thinking about how communities in all shapes and sizes can take more control over their energy sources and become more efficient.

There are many benefits, the most obvious being coming together as a group to make savings and to use the knowledge and skills of many people to benefit the whole community.

There are now moves to work with, for examples, Parish Councils to engage with their community and become the mover of a community energy project. The team at Community Pathways have a great source of documents to support and develop the projects.

In our partnership, we work with people and community organisations to deliver benefits to the communities and the agencies that support them.

We see the potential impact of these projects in a number of ways; using volunteers, bringing together expertise in skills and knowledge, using local business and groups, working with people across age groups and across family involvements.

There is nothing like making a saving to ensure that people will become active. And this way it can be the community that will be the real winner.



Sue Martin FRSA- SmithMartin Partnership LLP

High Rents and Nowhere to Live

Image 1


The storm around the benefit cap to start in April 2013 made some good headlines this week. The expense of living in rented accommodation at that price is hard for everyone.


We welcome the comments made by Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent in London in Sunday’s Observer. A brave decision to voice real concerns and takes some conviction and an empathetic understanding for the families she meets.

Some of the free London papers were full of letters denouncing all who find themselves on benefits and living in expensive accomodation, when hard working people can’t afford rents at over £500 per week.

There is no escape that this is a considerable rent charge. But is it the only answer, not to pay people benefits. Most of the rented accommodation is private, the owners are the real economic winners. When there was more social housing, for example, accommodation was easier to find and at a more realistic rent, or could there be a cap on rents to be charged?

Certainly the consequences in April will be large, the thought of disrupting family life by a major move to lower rent areas across the country is hugely problematic with moral concerns for all those in the implementation.

Schools in many areas are already being affected, large increases in pupil numbers in areas where children and families have been moved.

A winter of considerable discontent ahead for many.

Enhanced by Zemanta

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 change or social stagnation?

This short film, in the masterly RSAnimate series, features the ideas of Renata Salecl, a Slovenian social and legal theoretician.

Her key argument is that choice in current society suppresses social change. That burning with the desire to consume in the capitalist system, we develop a critique of self, rather than of society.



Our need to choose and consume, based on a sense of needing to belong, needing to not upset colleagues, friends or other social contacts, leads us to develop a false sense of being in charge of our own lives, but which drives us to feel a sense of failure at our poor choices or inability to acquire what others have.

Notions of class war or class identity, for Salecl, are replaced by inadequacy.

Freud determined that malaise in civilisation is mirrored by malaise in the individual. However, the issue with these over arching conditional statements about communities in the capitalist world, is that they are based on the perception that everyone has choice, that every economic player has the access to the modes of action that allow the fulfillment of choice.

Is this wrong? Does everyone have the same economic and social functionality to act? We think not. Economic power, social status and educational achievement have still not reached par for everyone. It is a structural deficit that inhibits social change not choice.

To see the cake is to recognise confectionary. To have no income, or insufficient income, means that cake today or tomorrow is merely an ideal for many.

Still, another great film. What do you think?

You can see another RSAnimate film on changing educational paradigms on our blog here

Creating a more equal and productive Britain

25th Anniversary Lecture Daycare Trust


Don’t blame families, support them and help them to achieve better outcomes.” Sir James Heckman

By special invitation from Daycare Trust, the leading economist and Nobel Prize winner, Sir James Heckman of the University of Chicago, gave an outstanding lecture, delivered in the Churchill Rooms at the Treasury.

He argued that there is great economic benefit through the investment in supporting families and provision of good early years experiences, and this far outweighs the benefit of more costly programmes at a later stage.

In economic terms the long term benefit to society has a much higher return than the cost of projects such as for eg. support for those aged over 16 not in employment, education or training, reducing criminality, single, young parenthood, and concerns with issues of social disadvantage. He provided much evidence to support this and called for prevention programmes to be in place instead of remediation.

He called for professionals to work together and for the measurement base to be broadened with a focus on social or family policy rather than separation in to education, health and social care.

Sir James referred to the development of non cognitive skills as being a fundamental determinant in the longer term cognitive skills.

As an example he looked at some research from Hart and Risley, 1995, on the vocabulary of children. At the age of 2 in working class families in the US children had a vocabulary of 616 words, whereas in professional families the vocabulary increased to 2553 words.

Much to think about. The research gives credence to the belief that we have in our partnership,  that our work, which delivers support to children and families in social and economic disadvantage, clearly helps change community landscapes.

More information will be available on the Daycare Trust website and as a trustee of Daycare Trust,  immensely proud to be part of a campaigning organisation leading change for improvements for the lives of families.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – engaging with communities and broadening horizons