Somerset Social Enterprise Fund fuels sporting talent in Taunton

A £1million fund launched to help prospective and established social enterprises develop sustainable community services is happy to announce its first beneficiary.

Taunton Athletics Club has been awarded £25,000 through the Somerset Social Enterprise Fund (SSEF), established last year by Somerset County Council with the Somerset Community Foundation. The loan will support the club in completing their refurbished club house and its facilities, and drive growth in the membership of the sports club.

The aim of the Fund is to provide loan finance of between £10,000 and £100,000 to support new and established social enterprises to grow and prosper. To be eligible for funding from the SSEF, organisations must be working within Somerset and able to demonstrate they are social enterprises.

Social enterprises are community-focused organisations or projects working in a commercial manner for the benefit of local residents and communities. These could be charities, community interest companies, companies limited by guarantee or industrial and provident societies.

One of the key characteristics of the Fund is that it is self-sustaining, with loan repayments and interest ‘recycled’ into loans for future applicants.

Social enterprises can apply for the loans for any number of reasons, including purchasing equipment or vehicles, improving the property they operate from, or to enable and support organisational growth and development.

Cllr John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council said: “As an authority we are pleased to be able to support social enterprises and the work of those who make them possible. Without them, our communities in Somerset would undoubtedly be poorer. The Somerset Social Enterprise Fund recognises this fact.

“I’m thrilled that Taunton Athletics Club, one of the oldest athletics clubs in the country, based in our very own county town, has been first to benefit.”

Justin Sargent, Chief Executive of Somerset Community Foundation, said: “Taunton Athletics Club plays a very positive part in promoting healthy living, healthy communities, and sporting achievement in our county town, and we’re pleased to support its development. We are also awarding a small grant towards the Club’s outreach work to encourage charities, organisations, and other members of the community to access the facility.

“We’d love to see more Somerset social enterprises benefit from the Fund, so please get in touch to find out if your organisation could be eligible.”

Mike Rogers, Chairman of Taunton Athletics Club, said: “The support will allow us to complete the internal work with our clubhouse. With the club catering for age ranges from 8 to 80 we need to ensure we can continue to meet the demands from the significant increase in our membership. We have members from a 25 mile radius of Taunton and through the excellent support from our own coaches we have been able to meet the needs on the track. The loan allows us to meet our demands of the track which is as important moving forward.”

Social enterprises wishing to find out more should contact the Somerset Community Foundation. Phone 01749 344949, email info@somersetcf.org.uk or visit www.somersetcf.org.uk