Study Visit in Hampshire – 10-11th July 2013

The study trip promised to be especially exciting because the thought and the practice of socially responsible investment (SRI) and corporate social responsibility (CSR), Public-Private Partnership, and the thought and the practice of cooperation between the public and the private sphere have all started here. We hoped that we would find several good examples that can perhaps also be used in the Hungarian practice.

The organisers arranged a very exciting and dense programme: we have visited 8 social enterprises within 2 days, where there is a cooperation between the public sphere and the private sector, and we have also seen an example of how social enterprises facilitating social integration are established.

First of all, we visited the SCA Group in Southampton  . The SCA Group is a social enterprise providing health and social care services in the United Kingdom. The group – among the members of which we can find a private social enterprise and a public service provider health care – offers both services that can be taken at the home of the service taker and support service, health care, among others extra 24 hours nursing service, porter service, dentist service as well as training and advisory service for the groups that had been crowded out of the labour market. The cooperation of group members is organised on the basis of mutual advantages, its winners are the service takers, for whom they offer complex provisions. The group manages itself from its income – you have to pay for everything except for state dentist care - and they maintain themselves from building hire the fee paid by the Public Health Service and from the service support paid by the local government.

We also had a look at the Trojan mailing programme in Southampton  . This is an enterprise that didn't ask and didn't receive any financial support, they produce the conditions of operation and development themselves, and their only source of income derives from the counter value of the service. The programme provides a special digital printing and postal service that is able to compete on the market. Among its customers, we can find both public service providers and forprofit companies. Also voluntary (or voluntarily undertaken) corporate social responsibility is important for the company. They offer a job to people suffering from a mental illness.

The Parklife is a community space in the St. James' Park, in Southampton Shirley . The park and the programmes are operated by a group consisting of parents, who have united to renovate the disused and very neglected park. The programme was implemented in the framework of a social enterprise, for which the financial support was provided by Heritage Lottery Fund and the city council of Southampton. The renovation took hardly a year. Nowadays the park has already become a well-functioning enterprise providing programmes for all age groups. There is also a café in the area of the park that passed the operation to the social enterprise in the framework of a long-term lease contract. The services of the Parklife can be taken against payment, but the operators pay attention for keeping their services purchasable for people with a low income as well.

The Women's Wisdom programme is another location of social enterprises in Southampton. The programme supports women, who got stuck in a certain life situation or live among difficult conditions, and who need several different types of services. Among others, they provide coaching for start-up and pre-start-up enterprises. By doing so, their aim is to help unemployed and economically inactive people, who would like to overcome their barriers by becoming self-employed. By the empowering (enabling) workshops, they motivate people to find employment opportunities and to be able to operate adequately there, to be able to overcome their fears and handle the changes. By the empower (enabling) workshops, they motivate people to find employment opportunities, and act adequately there, so that they can overcome their fears and handle the changes. In the framework of the Administration Resource Centre (ARC) (business outsourcing service), they are doing the rehabilitation of women released from the prison, in order to enable them to return to their workplaces. The increasing of the employability takes place in the ARC workshops, where women can work, take part in different courses, get qualifications and develop their basic skills.

The last programme of the day was the visiting of the SoCo Music Project  .The project was established to provide creative opportunities in all age groups, and to develop the people. However, they do not only deal with developing creative potential, but they also provide an opportunity for those, who would like to entertain. Their activity is supported by a Youth Music, Arts Council, Big Lottery and many more. They have received support from the Winnal Rock School, the Town Council of Winchester, the Youth Music and the EU. Today the programme already has a serious professional fame both on a local and on a regional level.

On the second day of the study trip we visited North Hampshire. Here we have watched the Inclusion Hampshire programme . The Inclusion Hampshire works on programmes assisting the inclusion of disadvantaged young people. They provide services for young people who are hindered in studying and at work and are seriously endangered. They organise alternative education, motivational and professional clubs, and in order to bridge the gap, they also cooperate with the family. These programmes targeting young people support their reintegration into the scholar system, and help their integration into the labour market. Today their biggest challenge is given by the bridging the gaps of the children of wandering gipsy families. They are staying in a close relationship with the local governments, child care organs and educational institutions operating in Hampshire County who are buyers (customers) of their services.

The Community Matters is a programme that motivates local enterprises – as responsible enterprises – to fulfil their community participations. The CMP membership involves regular meetings with companies, enterprises, organisations, the local government, college trainers and trainees and community groups, and they take part in planning and implementing community programmes. In 2013-15, the main emphasis was put on diminishing juvenile unemployment by their programmes in the future. In the years before the community supported the programme targeting the residence of homeless people. Belonging to a community offers several advantages to the enterprises and to its members. Among others, they organise further education programmes, they provide opportunities for taking part at development sessions and they also offer new relationships and business opportunities.

The Seen2Help/See, so that you can help -   – is to offer a sustainable job for the demobilizing soldiers and their wives independently of the fact where the family member is commanded, or where the deserter lives. The location of work might change, but the employment is continued. The enterprise builds on the abilities, the talent and the ambitions of the employees. The Seen2Help is a non-profit outsourcing organisation undertaking and fulfilling certain activities of enterprises against fee. It manages all this through the internet, so a virtual office serves the clients. The enterprise is maintained entirely from the incomes. The activities performed:

  • virtual receptionist activity
  • virtual call handling
  • virtual administrator services
  • internet marketing
  • copywriting (creative text writing)

The presented social enterprises have been established partly as a result of the cooperation between the public and the private sphere, on the other hand they are responsible enterprises offering regular income for a disadvantaged social group. The long-term aim of PPP (cooperation of the public and the private sphere) and the social investment (corporate social responsibility) is to reduce harmful social and economic impacts, and instead of that to increase social benefit and to strengthen social integration. In order to achieve this aim, the public sphere gives a task to the private sphere, and the profit-oriented private enterprises – according to their corporate social responsibility and because it is worth for them – they buy services offered by social enterprises. This might be surprising at first sight, but these service providers operate partly or entirely without state resources in most cases, and they provide their incomes from the market. They can do this, because, on the one hand, the cooperation between the public and the private sphere is very much stressed, as a result of which we can count on the establishment of fix markets, while on the other hand, social investment is not only present on the level of verbality, as responsible business planning, but in order to reach social benefit in the future. Therefore both, the state and its institutions as well as the enterprises are willing to sacrifice. It is also an important lesson that the state is not willing to provide every service itself. The role of big provision systems was taken by person-centred, problem-centred, social enterprises that are reacting quickly to change and needs. Of course English social enterprises had to learn over the years that only marketable, quality products and services can be sold, and the only way of their survival is the market, and they do not look for solutions that are out of the market and they do not depend on the resources of the government. It was surprising how conscious management enterprises have, and how convincing they can communicate their achievements, so they do not withhold their limitations and the dangers. The enterprises operate under continuous and maximal social controls. The fulfilment of changing customer needs require continuous renewal and planning from them, their risks are significant, but if they have found their markets, the established jobs are sustainable that provides continuity and security for the people, who work in it. And what they get in exchange? Great independence of the politics and of the prevailing power. On the basis of what we have seen, we can say that it is worth it!

Read more here.


The MESSE study visit video in UK