Big Issue Vendor

£5m Comic Relief fund opens to boost social enterprises through pandemic

The Inclusive Recovery Fund will help social entrepreneurs carry out vital work throughout English communities with the backing of UnLtd and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport

Social enterprises will be given the opportunity to help their local communities through the Covid-19 crisis thanks to a Comic Relief-backed £4.75m fund.

The new Inclusive Recovery Fund will offer grants between £10,000 and £500,000 to social entrepreneurs to help them deliver important services and grow their impact while adapted to the challenges of the coronavirus crisis.

“Local communities up and down the country face unprecedented challenges,” said Comic Relief chief executive Ruth Davidson. “But there is an abundance of ingenuity, creativity and passion out there ready to tackle these challenges head on.”

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Social entrepreneur foundation UnLtd has teamed up with Comic Relief and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for the project.

Social enterprises, like The Big Issue, reinvest their profits into communities to create social change and that work was vital in helping people around England through the first national lockdown earlier this year.

While The Big Issue supported vendors throughout their time off the streets, social enterprises like Stand4 Socks, Fat Macy’s and Change Please worked to keep key workers and vulnerable people fed and clothed as well as tackling isolation during the lockdown.

Half of the funds are slated to go to under-represented groups with UnLtd encouraging applications from social entrepreneurs who have a disability or come from a BAME background to take on the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on those communities.

UnLtd chief executive Mark Norbury said: “Like all of us, social entrepreneurs have weathered unprecedented challenges over the past six months.

“They have shown great resilience and innovation. They have been at the front line supporting their communities, and are testing new ways to grow their impact. But they want to do more. 

“This is why we have launched the Inclusive Recovery Fund. It is not an emergency support fund. It is a way to help social entrepreneurs as they contribute to the UK’s recovery and tackle the challenges that this pandemic has exacerbated.”

As well as allowing social enterprises to take on opportunities to boost impact, resilience and the UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, UnLtd hope to build a long-term partnership with successful applicants to provide ongoing support in the years to come.

The initial fund draws on UnLtd own team-up with Comic Relief, announced earlier in the autumn as part of a £10 million matched funding bid.

It is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as part of the Government’s £750 million support package for charities.

Ruth Davison, chief executive of Comic Relief, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has affected the way we all go about our lives.

“Local communities up and down the country face unprecedented challenges. But there is an abundance of ingenuity, creativity and passion out there ready to tackle these challenges head on.

“We are delighted to partner with Unltd to get much-needed funding to social entrepreneurs across England.” Applications open today and run through to November 12 on UnLtd’s website.