10 ideas for change: North east England.


Children at an exhibition at Seven Stories

From inventive ways to boost arts and creativity to social enterprises set up in housing estates, Newcastle and the north east are not short of ideas for plugging the funding gap and helping build its local economy. Here’s 10 of the best ideas for change:

1. Seven Stories: Ensuring books are accessible to all children: Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children’s Books and is based in a seven storied former grain warehouse in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. Established in 1996 as part of the regeneration of the then derelict Ouseburn area, it operates as a charity with a key aim of making books accessible to children and young people in the local area and beyond. It houses a collection of children’s literature and runs a wide range of learning and outreach activities:

2. Live Theatre: Moving beyond arts funding cuts: A writer’s theatre where many of the UK’s TV and theatre scriptwriters come to develop and nurture their talent, Newcastle’s Live Theatre is now increasingly a social enterprise. It has bought up neighbouring buildings – it now owns a gastropub and office units – and ploughs the proceeds back into its social programmes. Its most ambitious project – Live Works – is almost complete and will see the creation of a new cultural hub in the city including a children’s and young people’s writing centre.

3. Sage Foundation: Taking corporate social responsibility up a level: The Sage Foundation was launched last month by the software business Sage. It has created a 2+2+2 model of philanthropy whereby it will donate 2% of employee time to volunteering each year (5 days per employee) as well as 2% of free cash flow and it will offer 2 of its software products to social enterprises and charities.


The Labelled shop helping young people with learning disabilities gain experience of business

4. Breeze Creatives: Building a creative economy from a former office block: Housed in a nine-storey former office building that is part of an area scheduled for demolition, Breeze Creatives offers studio space for artists and arts organisations at low rates. It also houses the north east branch of Arts Emergency, which provides mentors for young artists.

5. Labelled: Using a high street shop to provide skills training for young people: From Darlington-based social enterprise Patchwork People, Labelled is a high street shop which offers training and development opportunities to young people with high support needs. Young people are taught business and social skills by working in and creating products for sale within the shop. The organisation is now franchising the social brand for other organisations to replicate the model.



The Sunderland base of SES in a building made of former shipping containers

6. SES: Tackling poverty and inequality through local enterprise: Operating out of its Sunderland headquarters in a building made of recycled shipping containers, SES has, over three decades, helped create and support the growth of social, traditional and cooperative businesses across the region. It has helped 3500 small business start-ups and 245 social enterprises over 30 years and its work – and that of other local partners – has led to Sunderland being recognised as a social enterprise city.

7. Bluestone Consortium: Bringing the voluntary and community sector together to bid for public contracts: As the funding landscape changes, voluntary organisations across Newcastle and Gateshead have come together as a consortium to strengthen their offer and ensure they play a key role in public service reform and provision.


Young people making films at a workshop at the Tyneside Cinema

8. Durham Social Value Taskforce: Bringing greater social value to public spend: In Durham the Federation of Small Businesses teamed up with the council in 2009 on the UK’s first social value taskforce, bringing together a range of groups including the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO), County Durham Economic Partnership, Social Enterprise UK. It has increased the amount of money spent by the public sector with local small and social businesses and ensured greater social value in its supplier base.

9. Tyneside Cinema: Building a community hub within a 1930s cinema: An iconic venue in Newcastle, the Tyneside Cinema is now run as a charity with a mission to improve lives and make a difference through film. It runs an extensive learning and participation programme with a particular focus on building the creative skills of children young people:

10. Newcastle Futures: Offering a joined-up approach to employment: Set up in 2012 as the employability arm of Newcastle Council, Newcastle Futures is focused particularly on helping young people and those furthest from the workplace to find jobs.  Its services operate out of community centres and housing organisations across the city and join the dots in local employment provision.


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