How we’re developing SSE for our long-term future

1 Oct 2020

SSE team shot at Dartington Hall

This blog was updated in August 2021 to reflect that SSE Dartington has also joined SSE, becoming one of our teams in the South West.

At SSE, we encourage our students to look backwards as well as forwards. We believe that taking time to reflect is essential for learning and development.

Reflecting on the past can unlock a roadmap for the future. Before diving into action, you need to understand your strengths as an organisation. You can then understand how best to serve your community. You ensure you are well set-up to create the change you wish to see in the world.

We practice what we preach here at SSE. We have been reflecting on our past two decades, as we explore the impact we want to create in the long term.

Where we’ve come from

SSE first cohort Bethnal Green - group of people looking happyWe started as a cohort of 20 social entrepreneurs in East London, founded by Lord Michael Young in 1997. Since then, we have achieved great impact and growth.

Today, SSE teams work across the UK, India and Canada. We have also supported social entrepreneurs in Australia, Ireland and the UAE.

Together, our teams support more than 1,000 leaders of social change each year.

We are experts in learning and support for social entrepreneurs and social-sector leaders. We are exceptional in our reach. We work internationally, yet our teams are deeply rooted in their local communities. We share best practice from around the world, while understanding the challenges faced by people just down the road.

We are a thriving community. All of you make SSE what it is: teams of staff and freelancers, students and SSE fellows, speakers, board members, mentors and volunteers, funders, partners, and many more.

We are immensely proud of the impact we have created together. And we are ambitious for the future. This year has been an unprecedented one for the whole world, but at SSE it marks an exciting stage in our development.

Where we’re going

Our team is beginning to develop our new strategy: a roadmap for supporting people to tackle society’s biggest problems. We’ll keep you posted on the development of this strategy as it evolves.

We are also developing SSE for our long-term future. Building on our strengths, we commit to becoming more:

  • Rooted – deepening our local and regional presence.
  • Robust – a stronger, more resilient organisation.
  • Responsive – agile and ready to seize new opportunities.

SSE has historically operated as a network of social franchise and social membership organisations, each with a slightly different form. But the external environment in which SSE is operating now is different to the late 1990s when we were first established.

We believe we will have greater collective impact by working differently. We want to share skills, assets and resources across geographies more effectively. We want to bring greater focus and impact to local communities.

So we are moving towards a more responsive and collaborative structure. We are proud to have merged SSE with our three independent teams in England (SSE Midlands, SSE Yorkshire & North East and SSE Cornwall) in October 2020, and for SSE Scotland to become a wholly owned subsidiary of SSE.

Update: As of August 2021, SSE Dartington has also transferred into SSE, becoming one of our teams in the South West.

We will continue to work in partnership with our other teams across the UK, India and Canada.

What this means for SSE

In practice, this won’t mean much to the outside world (unless you happen to be especially interested in legal structures!). But we’re excited about the opportunities it opens up for our ways of working.

Our team is growing, taking on new members from across the UK. By sharing our operations, finances and back-end office functions, we’re freeing up our team’s time. Staff will be able to do more of what they love: supporting students, mobilising our SSE fellows community, meeting new partners who share our values, and making sure we create the impact we set out to achieve.

We will continue to deliver world-leading support: for people transforming their communities and helping those who need it most.

And while it might not seem like a big change outside SSE – all of us here are excited about building a more robust, locally rooted and responsive SSE.

Here’s to creating impact, together, for many years to come.

Learn more about how we support 1,000+ people a year to transform their communities and improve the lives of millions.


A group of people of different ages, genders and ethnicities sit at a table, looking up and smiling