National recognition for Somerset’s micro-enterprise project

Somerset’s ground-breaking community micro-enterprise project has been recognised on the national stage.

Delivered in partnership with social enterprise Community Catalysts, it was highlighted at a national conference for providing an innovative new approach to meeting care and support needs.

The conference, ‘A new future for social care?’, run by the charity think tank The Kings Fund, brought together social care leaders, MPs and providers. They discussed how adult social care services can survive in a financially challenging environment and continue to provide choice and personalised care to people.

Somerset’s Director of Adults Services, Stephen Chandler, was asked to explain Somerset’s micro-enterprise project as an example of how Councils can build local community support to meet care needs and give people more choice over their care.
Community micro-providers are local, independent people offering a flexible, local alternative to traditional services for families who want to take control of their care. In less than two years, the project has helped more than 100 set up in the local area and given support another previously 60 established enterprises.

One of a growing number of people benefitting from this support is Vanessa, from the Quantock Hills, who has four independent community micro-providers to support her husband Jerry. Vanessa has shared her experience of community micro-providers and the benefits to her and her husband in a short film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB1aF4uuIPM

William Wallace, Cabinet Member for Adults Services, said: “It’s fantastic to be recognised at a national level for our innovation and hard work.

“The community micro-entrerprise project gives skilled individuals the tools they need to provide professional local services to meet the needs of local people. Community micro-providers can offer anything from home help and care at home to social groups and gardening services. All of which help people to stay independent and living in their own home.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) has also recognised the importance of the micro-enterprise project and has awarded a £20,000 grant to allow Somerset County Council and Community Catalysts to continue their good work. The LGA will review the effectiveness of the project and share the good practice with other local authorities.

Small start-up and existing providers can get practical information from the project on everything from regulation to training and sources of funding. If you are interested in setting up, or are already running a small service which is local, independent and has less than eight employees or volunteers please contact the local Community Catalyst, Rhys Davies on 07595 411 945 or by email: rhys.davies@communitycatalysts.co.uk