From a virtual field: Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You

After two weeks on holiday I’m back and I bring with me troubling news. I know, it’s the last thing you need at the moment but I feel that it’s too important not to share. According to this article in the Guardian, it’s possible that 2020 could mark the end of the song of the summer as we know it. Clubs aren’t open, Ibiza isn’t really happening and there of course are no music festivals taking place this year.

But never fear, Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You is here to fill the void, with the first ever SSE virtual festival. No need to camp, you can use your own shower and the toilets are clean (I mean I hope they are. You’re in your own house after all).

See you at the front…


Kicking us off on the main stage and hailing from the nation’s capital are London Community Response, a supergroup made up of some of the city’s favourite funders. They’ll be taking us through their latest release (of funding), which features top hits such as ‘organisations can apply for up to £50,000 for grants lasting for up to six months’ and fan favourite ‘applications will be considered in the order they are received but they expect to stop taking applications under this wave of funding by the end of July’. More details here.

You’ll have to be quick if you want to catch our next act, the catchily named ‘Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme’. They’ll be sharing details of grants up to £100,000 that are available to community organisations in England who are facing financial difficulties caused by Covid-19. The grants will only be open for applications three hours from 10am – 1pm on Tuesday 28th July. Make sure to put a bookmark here.

My colleague Francis is the unmissable headline act at the theatre stage. He’ll be pulling on his spandex and performing an avant garde dance interpretation* of his latest blog post ‘Social enterprises must be at the heart of economic recovery‘.

*warning – may contain nudity

Children are more than welcome at the festival and at 4pm today we’ll be linking up with the Big School Bell campaign, aimed at all school pupils missing out on their end-of-school traditions. Run by SSE Fellow Kim McCabe, all school children are invited to stand on their doorstep with uniform on, or with something else from school, to mark the end of the 2020 school journey with the last school bell of the year. Check out more details here. 

Kids will also want to investigate Home Debate Club, a weekly live online debate to help young people lead a debate in the home on a pandemic-related question. It helps children to boost wellbeing, connect safely with the crisis and build discussion skills. Think Joe Wicks but for democracy and debate and you’ll be on the right lines. It’s free to take part, best suited to 6-12 year olds and takes place every Wednesday between 10.30am – 11am right here.

It gives me enormous pleasure to announce that we’ll be welcoming husband and wife duo Julia and Hans Rausing to our festival. Julia and Hans hit the omega replica headlines earlier this month when they announced their £10 million Charity Survival Fund, which provides core funding to help small and medium sized charities to help overcome the impact of Covid-19. Be sure to give them a big SSE welcome (and apply to the fund, which offers grants of £5000 – £250,000, by 5pm on 27th July).

Brighton Yoga Foundation will be appearing in the Wellness Arena with their very own Online Festival. They’ll be hosting yoga, movement and talks over Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th. You can register now via their website and pay what you can afford for the workshops. All donations go to the foundation which provides free yoga to those who need it most such as women affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence. Sign up here.

Over in the cinema tent, we’ve got a brand new screening for you. Taking place on Tuesday 4th August at 1pm, ‘Social entrepreneurs parenting through the pandemic’ stars Fiona Small, mum of two, founder of Young Mums Support Network ; Carolyn Whitehead, mum of three, founder of Beautiful New Beginnings and Ian Blackwell, dad of two, founder of Dangerous Dads. They will share their highs and lows of lockdown, give practical advice and support on juggling parenting with running a social enterprise. Book your space here.

The virtual festival will feature lots of award winning talent. Who knows, you may even see SSE Fellows Josh Babarinde (Crackedit) or Angela McKay (Homebaked) who have both been announced as winners of the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize. They’ll receive £10,000, 10 days of business support from experts at Cambridge Judge Business School, and introductions into Cambridge entrepreneurial networks and the UK social sector – read more here.

Finally, if all of this has left you wanting more festival frolics then Power to Change are hosting the Community Business Festival on 13th and 14th August. It’s an online event jam-packed with behind-the-scenes tours, how-to workshops and a chance to hear from some of the inspirational people leading and working in community business. Everything you need to know is right here.

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