A SOCIAL enterprise in Chelmsley Wood that empowers people to reach their full potential through positive experiences to improve mental, physical and emotional wellbeing has been given a funding boost to help it deal with a rapid rise in referrals during Covid-19.
Queens Award winners Gro-Organic, formed in 2011 by social entrepreneur Sarah Treanor, has secured £150,000 from the Resonance Social Investment Tax Relief Fund and will immediately channel it into expanding its support programmes across the region.
Last year, the organisation’s pioneering work supported more than 284 volunteers and nearly 6,000 service users, with its highly successful trading arm, Gro-Landscaping, seeing a surge in demand for commercial, school and community projects.
“The Gro-Mentoring service has taken on even greater importance during the pandemic and we’ve seen the number of family referrals treble since the start of lockdown,” said Sarah.
“This was already building on one of our busiest years and lots of exciting plans to deliver more projects that create transferrable skills and improve community cohesion.
“I’m delighted we have been able to secure investment to support our commitment to helping more people and this will be directed into new equipment, new expert assistance and recruitment and development of our specialist teams.”
Resonance launched its SITR Fund in February 2018, bringing £5million of investment to help the region’s social enterprises dismantle poverty and fight inequality.
The fund offers unsecured loans over a six-year term, ‘interest only for the first three years’, making it an ideal vehicle for organisations looking to maximise their social impact.
Grace England, Senior Investment Manager for the Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund, said: “It has been brilliant to see Gro-Organic grow and develop over the number of years we’ve been working with the team.
“We are delighted to see it continue to grow its impact at a time where its services are needed more than ever before.”
Social Investment Tax Relief has leveraged more than £14m in private investment to help 88 social enterprises deliver essential services across the UK.
It is the only tax break specifically aimed at social enterprises and is designed to encourage individuals to support the sector by helping them access new sources of repayable finance, with backers receiving a 30 per cent tax break when investing into an eligible organisation.
However, enterprises and social investors are now urging the Government and Treasury Minister Jesse Norman to not backtrack on their promise to ‘level up’ the UK’s cities and regions by scrapping SITR, which has a proven record of unlocking and directing private capital into some of the most disadvantaged places in the country.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who has called for SITR to be retained, said: “It is welcome news that Gro-Organic has been awarded this funding – it is a great example of how social enterprises, groups, organisations and charities in the social economy put the needs of local people before profit and make a real difference in our communities.
“Social Interest Tax Relief is hugely important to the health of the social economy here and retaining it will be vital if we are to achieve our ambition of doubling its size.”