Member Article

Social enterprise assisted by NBSL

Blackhall Community Centre in County Durham is a social enterprise that provides function and meeting rooms for hire, runs a café and a gym and involves the community in a variety of events. The community centre is forward thinking and markets itself though its own Facebook page, but when it came to developing a strategy for improving the leadership and management capabilities of its manager Alison Paterson, external help was needed, and accordingly Alison turned to NBSL for support.

NBSL provides matched grant support of up to £1,000 for business leaders who need coaching for growth. Blackhall Community Centre was eligible to apply for the funding because more than 50% of its turnover comes from business to business customers.

Nigel Smith (one of NBSL’s Leadership & Management Specialist Advisers) visited Alison and assisted her to complete the short and simple application form that would enable her to access the funding quickly. Alison chose to work with Lynn Howard Consultancy and Training Services to help her develop her management capabilities, in relation to herself and her team as well as trustees and volunteers. Alison needed to set ‘key performance indicators’ and to be able to manage meetings more effectively with the overall aim of running a tighter ship, developing the centre into a more professional organisation and gaining more corporate and private business income.

Lynn proposed a programme of coaching and mentoring sessions plus on-going telephone and email support lasting a total of ninety days. The coaching included support for Alison in understanding the benefits of performance management for the organisation and assistance in setting targets and developing her ability to identify outcomes for the organisation using decision making and planning processes.

Alison and Nigel then worked together to prepare a follow up action plan for the organisation and steps were taken to ensure that it was followed through. As a result of the project two extra staff were employed to provide ‘more hands on deck’ resulting in a ‘tighter ship’. An online diary system was implemented and uniforms were introduced to make staff look much more professional. A recycling project was publicised through the Hartlepool Mail newspaper to raise awareness of the activities and ethos of the centre and as a result of the raised profile and greater professionalism of the staff, 140 people were booked to attend a Christmas party, so achieving more business as had been desired initially. The centre now plans to build on its achievements and hopes to go from strength to strength in future.

Funding is limited so if you would also like to take advantage of NBSL’s package of support including advice and funding for growth to help your business fulfil its true potential, contact us today on 01670 813322 or go to our website at to apply immediately online.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Phil Langton .

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