Social Investment - Doing More of What Works.

One of the reasons I came to work for One Manchester as our Social Investment Manager was because of their commitment to Social Innovation.

I’ll admit, that I didn’t really know what that meant, but I was impressed, and inspired by the range of interesting activities and projects One Manchester was involved with that went beyond providing homes. It was clear from the case studies I saw that the work was making a massive difference to peoples lives for the better.
 
I’m still working out exactly what we do mean by Social Innovation, and how we use our investment to enable it, but I’m convinced that it is a worthwhile endeavour as we develop more examples that demonstrate this approach!

Last month, I had the pleasure of presenting our social accounts to our audit panel. Whilst this may not sound like everyone’s idea of a good time it reminded me of how One Manchester has continued to make a difference.

Our social accounts set out all the ways in which we have made a difference in relation to our social priorities, providing the numbers, and the stories that show the difference we make. The social audit process provides independent scrutiny, to help us reflect on the impact we are making, and identify area’s where we can improve. It’s great to celebrate our success, like the:
 

  •         129 people we supported into volunteer opportunities
  •         34 apprentices supported by us and our suppliers
  •         217 people we supported into employment
  •         £1million we gained for our most financially vulnerable customers
  •         25 new businesses we helped to support
  •         £200,000 + of investment in local community organisations and social enterprises.

"However, we know that as an organisation we can’t afford to be complacent."

Great as these outcomes are, they are dwarfed by the extent of some of the social issues we see. We know life is hard, and that many people in our communities are struggling to afford the basics, and having to make difficult choices about whether to eat, or pay mounting debts. We know we are facing a climate crisis and accept that we have an important role to play in reducing the carbon emissions from the properties we manage.

We know that the wealth that exists in the city isn’t creating the opportunities we want to see within our neighbourhoods. We know that too many people are living in isolation and suffering from physical and mental health issues and unable to access the services they need.
 
These are big issues, and not ones we can take on alone, but we recognise that as a “social” housing provider we have a role to play. Doing more of the same, is not enough to realise the ambitions we share for the city. We want to encourage and enable others to work with us and innovate to create community responses and sustainable enterprises that can make a lasting difference.

"In the year ahead, we will continue to offer grants that we know are making a difference such as our Community Soups and Catalyst Fund."

These schemes don’t just fund projects, but they help us  for and develop relationships with the people making a difference in our City.
 
We are also continuing to work with several incredible social enterprises to test and develop a range of innovative services, including flexible and affordable parent supported childcare, and local recycling businesses that are providing opportunities for employment and creating value from waste materials.
 
We are also leading on the development of an exciting new local giving scheme in East Manchester that is going to make it easier for businesses and the local community to give to projects that the community want to see.

These are just some of the ways we are hoping to invest in our neighbourhood. If you’d like to find out more about our approach to social investment, have a look at our social investment strategy, or get in touch!