Social entrepreneurs scheme launches in Thurrock

Thurrock social entrepreneurs taking part in the scheme alongside Digby Chacksfield (third from left) Thurrock Council's Billy Masters (far left) and course leader Michelle Pritchard (far right)

A SCHEME to help social entrepreneurs in Thurrock develop and grow their businesses launched today at the Thurrock Adult Community College.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs East are working in partnership with Thurrock Council to deliver the free programme for Thurrock-based entrepreneurs who want their businesses to contribute to their local communities.

At the launch today 11 of the 13 social entrepreneurs on the scheme attended, getting to meet each other for the first time, hear about each other’s ideas, meet the school’s CEO Digby Chacksfield, and listen to presentations from other successful Thurrock social entrepreneurs.

This included talks from Hardie Park social entrepreneur Rob Groves, grime artist Connor Hammond who is giving young people the opportunity to record music in his music studio after winning funding at a Thurrock Soup event and Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions CEO Neil Woodbridge.

Mr Chacksfield said: “We want to get social entrepreneurs popping up everywhere because if you take people from the hardest to reach communities and teach them to be enterprising then you address funding, you get great leadership and that transforms places.”

The group will meet 18 times over the next 12 months, and during that time will be taught business and leadership skills. They will also be introduced to representatives from Unlimited, a group that gives out grants to promising social enterprises.

Mr Chacksfield added: “I think the group that we have are all fantastic. What you find is that social entrepreneurs live in the gaps of statutory provision and business and they see the problems occurring. So there’s some people in there who work in a social care setting and they see and experience things that the statutory powers can’t fix in the current form and that businesses have not really thought about fixing, and they’re saying ‘we can do something about it.’

“The group reflects some of the problems that we have in Thurrock that they want to eradicate and solve and that’s quite interesting, particularly if you think nationally about how social care is really struggling. We’ve got six or seven in there who want to do something to help with that. Creative arts is dropping off educational agendas. We have a couple of people in the group who are working to fill that gap.”

This is the first year the school has come to Thurrock, but Mr Chacksfield says there are more local social entrepreneurs on the waiting list and hopes to bring the programme back next year.

He added: “The reason the school wanted to come to Thurrock is because of the support that was there for it. Part of that is from Thurrock Council, but also the likes of Rob Groves and other social entrepreneurs who have been successful here.

“That was enough of a representation for us as an area saying we want this. We wouldn’t just come in if this was going to be an instant thing that would just disappear as soon as we go away. We want this to be sustainable.”