I first went to Manchester when I was 18, driving a drunk who had picked me up in his car and then collapsed. It was a good thing I had picked up the rudiments of driving stolen cars so that I could help the drunk and me get to town. It was a phenomenal place to arrive at in 1964. Now, 59 years later, I am here to help grow Big Issue Invest’s Growth Impact Fund, in partnership with social investor UnLtd.
I do my usual loud, over-the-top talk and then have to leave and go to sit in a cafe and write this. Write about the incredible transformation of Big Issue as it develops ways of investing in helping people get out of poverty. I always tell people about the PECC methodology, and have done so at my talk: Prevention, Emergency, Coping and Cure. Now about 10 years old, it describes everything that governments and social investor charities do. By asking people whether they are preventing the problem in the first place; helping in the emergency, helping people to cope or curing the problem.
Eighty per cent of social investment in the world, via governments and charities and businesses, is spent on emergency and coping. So you can see the Cinderella area of social investment and government support is not really into prevention and cure. I invented PECC because I wanted to show that unless we invest in social prevention and social cures we are largely treading water. We are not turning the tap off.
The Growth Impact Fund (GIF) comes north to help invest in social businesses that will promote the dismantling of poverty in people’s lives. Doing What Really Matters (DWRM) is one of the first groups to get some of GIF’s funding. It works to educate people who are still in prison, helping to prevent prisoners from reoffending because they get skills that will help them on the outside. It’s a brilliant initiative and I am so glad that Big Issue is involved in this innovative prevention programme.
Neuropool is another company that has come north with us to demonstrate that the Growth Impact Fund can help support projects that need to move away from often operating on a shoestring budget. Neuropool works with neurodiverse people who have conditions such as ADHD to get them into work.
Both of these companies have received our help and underline The Big Issue’s idea of growing into every sector of society that could do with investment to bring about social change.