Big Issue backs Cornwall dental practice for people with special needs

Social enterprise Smile Together CIC will be able to bring an old grammar school back into use to help patients thanks to a £1m investment from Big Issue Invest, our social investment arm

A social enterprise will be able to brush up an old Cornwall grammar school to transform it into a dental centre specifically designed for patients with special needs thanks to Big Issue Invest (BII).

Smile Together CIC, an employee-owned social enterprise and community interest company, will open the centre this spring bringing the only bariatric chair in Cornwall, offering dental care to those who have obesity, health or mobility issues.

The centre, on Harleigh Road in Bodmin, will also increase access to emergency, specialist and routine dental care with preventative support, education and treatment.

Smile Together
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The old grammar school will be turned into a dental surgery in time for the spring opening

Smile Together will offer the treatment at an affordable price while children will be seen for free.

This has been made possible because of a £1 million investment from BII, The Big Issue’s social investment arm, via their Social Enterprise Investment Fund II LP (SEIF II) in late 2018 as well as advisement from social impact investment company Resonance.

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There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.

“BII is delighted to be able to support Smile Together on this community initiative,” said James Salmon, investment director at Big Issue Invest. “These ambitious plans to increase their own unique brand of dentistry with social impact, is a boon for the communities across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

“This much-loved property in Bodmin, refurbished and purpose-designed to meet the requirements of patients across the county, will set an example for how ‘dentistry with social impact’ should be delivered setting the standard for other mission-led dental practices.”

Smile Together currently operates from 13 sites across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. They already treat over 40,000 patients per year including more than 4,000 special needs patients each year across the region.

Smile Together
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Smile Together's new Bodmin centre will open up dental treatment for those who have previous been unable to access services

Their newest site also benefits from full disabled access, including parking directly outside, and a ‘Changing Places’ accessible toilet facility, four well-equipped dental surgeries and waiting areas designed to ensure the comfort of all patients and visitors to the building.

“Having bought this wonderful building, we consulted with patients, commissioners and local contractors, and together developed our plans,” said Paul Critchley, managing director for Smile Together. “We are therefore pleased and proud to have secured this investment funding from Big Issue Invest which will help us realise this unique shared vision for dentistry in Cornwall.”

Ben Wrigley, investment manager at Resonance added: “It was a great pleasure to advise Smile Together, and work with their professional and committed team. They not only provide high quality NHS dental care, but also the same quality service to those in Cornwall in hard to reach communities that have difficulty accessing treatment, such as fishermen and their families.