ESRC Festival of Social Science: Better Business, Better Lives


This event, which runs from 1 Nov to 8 Nov 2014 is part of the annual ESRC Festival of Social Science which offers a fascinating insight into some of the country’s leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives – both now and in the future.

The University’s Faculty of Business, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences and Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry are organising a broad range of activities which will appeal to a variety of stakeholders from the local community, including local businesses, the public, teachers, young people and schoolchildren.

The topics are of public interest and importance and demonstrate the social value and real world applications of social science research done at the University. They centre around issues related to real world social and economic issues: finance, credit, digital behaviours, conflict resolution, entrepreneurship and the environment.

Engagement will be via public lectures, interactive seminars, workshops, competitions and poster presentations with question and answer sessions.

Programme of events:

All week: Reporting on research in progress – poster presentations by PhD students (public exhibition)

3 November: Doing business for good – a guide to social enterprise (schools event – please note this event has been cancelled @ 27 October)

3 November: Bridging the Gap: do practitioners recognise academic accounts of international politics? (public lecture)

4 November: Risk culture in financial organisations (public lecture)

4 November: Digital lives and digital risk (schools event)

4 November: Young people and technology – pros, cons and the future (public lecture)

4 November: Prospects for the British General Election (public lecture)

4 November: ‘Profoundly social': social science conversations with health and social care – ‘Integrated understanding, integrated care’ (discussion)

5 November: ‘Profoundly social': social science conversations with health and social care – ‘The sociological imagination and evidence-based practice’ (research speed networking)

5 November: Understanding and managing workplace conflict – managers wanted (public lecture)

5 November: Beating the bullies – resolving conflict at work (schools event – please note this event has been cancelled @ 27 October)

5 November: Challenging community perceptions of law and criminal justice (public lecture)

6 November: Benefits of credit management for SMEs (public lecture)

6 November: Making connections – the sustainable supply chain (public lecture)

6 November: How can marketing become a force for sustainability? (public lecture)

7 November: Bankers – the bad guys? Why do we have so many banking scandals and what should we do about it? (schools event)

To book your place visit:

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Social Enterprise Investment Fund re-opens

The highly successful Social Enterprise Investment Fund is now open for a second round with a closing date of 12 December 2014 for initial expressions of interest.

The first round of the fund opened in May 2014 with £500,000  for social enterprises to access a bespoke support package to help their ideas become a business reality. Six successful Social Enterprises in the city have already accessed the fund and £300,000 has been allocated, leaving £200,000 available.
The fund will be a mixture of grant and loan and each investment assessed on a case by case basis.

Invitations of expressions of interest are welcome for both revenue support (between £5,000 and £10,000) or capital support (up to £100,000).
The £500,000 fund came from the Council’s ‘Building for Jobs’ Investment Fund – one of the Council’s 19 ‘Plan for Jobs’ projects aimed at unlocking stalled developments, creating new jobs and levering additional public and private sector finance.

Groups interested in applying for the funding under the Social Enterprise Investment Fund should email


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Appetite for Change Awards

PSEN members, Zebra Collective have partnered with UnLtd and the Eden Project to offer cash awards and support from £500 to £15,000 for social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas based around food in the Devon and Cornwall areas.

They are looking for social entrepreneurs who wish to develop food themed ventures addressing the social issues below:

  • Food poverty including access and cost
  • Food miles, local shops, local economy and produce availability
  • Changing behaviours that lead to ill health, obesity and heart disease
  • Long term solutions for those using food banks
  • Food and mental health, including weight management and issues surrounding this
  • Food as a major resource in building community cohesion

The deadline for expressing an interest is the 17th of November 2014. Visit for more information and a link through to the application form.

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We Can Work It Out: Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

Today sees the launch of online platform, We Can Work It Out.

We Can Work It Out is a membership site for employers. For an annual subscription of £349, we support employers in supporting employees, help them to bridge the gap in communication and in complying with the law. PSEN members can join at the discounted rate of £200.

We do this by providing resources, free HR support and access to experts and people with lived experiences. Members are kept up to date with legislation updates and given a platform to network with their peers.

We understand resources are often tight, that time is of the essence and that the topic of mental health can feel like a murky minefield if you’ve not experienced mental health problems of your own. But we also know that employees play an integral part in a healthy business.

We Can Work It Out encourages employers to play a proactive role rather than a reactive one. Supporting employees to remain in work, reducing their stress and showing that you genuinely care, often leads to reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced re-recruitment and training costs, increased loyalty, increased motivation and a thriving bottom line.

For those with mental health problems, work can play an important part in recovery. It gives routine, a sense of purpose, financial independence and time with other people.

Members of We Can Work It Out commit to:

  • Broaden their knowledge of mental health problems
  • Be proactive in starting conversations in the workplace about wellbeing and mental health
  • Provide support to those experiencing mental health problems
  • Respect the rights, dignity and privacy of employees
  • Work with employees to reduce stress and maintain a better work/life balance
  • Not discriminate against those with mental health problems, or a history of mental health problems, in promotion or recruitment
  • Comply with the law

Jayne Hardy, CEO of the We Can Work It Out (WCWIO) said: “As someone who has struggled with mental health problems, I understand the role work plays on recovery. My own mental health declined rapidly when I lost my job in 2005. Our aim is to help employers support employees with mental health problems to remain in work, giving them the guidance and tools to do so.”

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Vote Grow Wild Plymouth!

Your vote could help us grow wild flowers right in the heart of Plymouth city centre.

Vote here:

Plymouth has put forward an exciting plan to create a corridor of wildflowers along Armada Way from the train station to the Hoe – ‘City to Sea’ – as part of the Grow Wild campaign organised by Kew Gardens.

Our flagship site is now one of only five on a national shortlist in a contest that aims to bring people and communities together to sow, grow and support UK native wildflowers. People power will dictate who wins the £120,000 to make the project happen, so the campaign is on to get the most votes. Voting starts today and will go on until 4th November.

A key part of the proposal is poppy planting near the Naval Memorial on The Hoe to honour those who have made sacrifices for their country. For more information on the scheme visit our website

Not only has the City to Sea flagship site the potential to transform Armada Way with colour and flowers, but the aim is to bring this strip of land alive with events for schools and the wider community through planting, bug hunts and other events designed to get more of us city folk to interact with nature.

So tell your networks, colleagues, friends and families and ask them to spread the word! People can vote from anywhere in the world. Here’s the voting website again:

To follow the action throughout the month we are:

Twitter:         @NaturePlymouth

Facebook:     SteppingStones Plymouth

If you want to support this campaign further, there are digital branded images for use on your websites, facebook and twitter pages contact


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Solution-focused Communication

Zebra Collective’s  next Solution-focused Communication 2-day course runs on Tuesdays 25th November and 9th December at Welcome Hall, Devonport, PL1 4DN.

This is a consistently well-evaluated course: the solution-focused approach is a versatile communication tool that can have real power in work with anyone who is stuck with big problems, as well as those just contemplating making some changes in life.
For more on course content,  learning outcomes and participant comments, see here.
For more on Zebra’s solution-focused work, go to:

The course costs £125+VAT per participant. This includes lunch, refreshments throughout, a 30-page course manual and an attendance certificate with learning outcomes listed.

PSEN members get a 15% introductory discount on all Zebra courses and Zebra are offering up to two free or subsidised places. Contact to discuss.

To book, or to discuss the course in more detail, email: by 15th November.

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CIC dividend rule change

From 1st October 2014, there’s a change to the amount of profit that a CIC may distribute. Prior to that date, a CIC Limited by Shares could pay up to 20p per £1 in shares held – up to a maximim of 35% of distributable profits.

From 1st October, the 20p “dividend cap” has been removed, meaning that the limit on dividend payment is now simply 35% of distributable profits.

The panel recommending this change said:

“It is hoped that this package of measures will remove many of the barriers to investment which we have discussed in recent years and will encourage more entrepreneurs to choose the CIC limited by shares model, ensuring its success into the next decade.”

For some bedtime reading on the topic download the CIC Regulator guide.




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Funding Support Officer vacancy

Peninsula Enterprise are looking to recruit a Funding Support officer. This a permanent position working on the Social Enterprise Focus project, an exciting project that supports Social Enterprises to grow their business through business support and bidding for new business. (see the website

The post may be located in the Peninsula Enterprise Plymouth Office or any of the office locations in Cornwall, Devon, but will require regular attendance to the Plymouth office.

The full job description can be found here.

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Free business advice from Plymouth Business School students

Plymouth Business School is looking for real-life projects from businesses across the South West for their students to tackle as part of their learning.

Businesses will have the opportunity to utilise the skills of a team of five, 1st year students, free of charge, over a period of about 10 weeks.

Students from a variety of business disciplines such as administration, accounting & finance, marketing, economics, public services, and maritime business and logistics will be taking part in this scheme, which is badged by the University as ‘Inspiring Futures’.

Students commence work on the project in the New Year and at the end of the project, in the spring, businesses will receive a report and be invited to attend the students’ presentation at the University. Suitable projects involve some aspect of primary or secondary research that can be conducted remotely, away from your premises.

Projects need to be below risk, not time critical and suitable for students who are at the start of their academic journeys. Students will be working on other modules at the same time as the Inspiring Futures project.

Examples of previous projects are:

  • undertaking competitor analysis
  • undertaking customer analysis
  • undertaking brand analysis
  • evaluating a marketing plan
  • evaluating social media strategy
  • researching market trends
  • identifying new markets
  • creating a business plan to support funding bids
  • conducting a risk analysis of funding options
  • reviewing budgets and associated activities
  • investigating funding and finance options

For more information, visit the Inspiring Futures webpages, or contact Penny Hele at for an application form.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 14th October 2014.

– See more at:

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Software development projects

Plymouth University Commputing and Games Development degree courses have a ‘live projects’ module where clients can recruit a team of aspiring game/web developers to apply their skills to a real world problem. The process begins this term, and they are looking for socaial enterprises who are prepared to table an idea, act as a client, and interact with the  teams – in return you should get an experience of the development cycle for software solutions/apps/scaleable websites etc and a tech demo or prototype… previous years outcomes have won awards for the clients and have been taken forward to full development.

There is an afternoon workshop at Plymouth University on Wednesday 15th October 2014 at 2pm in Babbage 210. The purpose of the session is to make connections between potential clients and teams of students. If you would like to know more please contact Shirley Atkinson at


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