As we approach the end of the Barrow Cadbury funded Building Bridges & Pathways project, I would like to express huge thanks to Curtis from Disability Enabling Network; Nadine from Makers Mews; Stu and Anne from NeuDICE; Alan and Mark from Pride in Plymouth; and Chi, Slain and Rachel from WonderZoo. They are the leaders of small scale, big ambition, locally based organisations who stepped up to be our project partners on this learning journey. They have been sharing their lived experiences of being social entrepreneurs from groups who are under-represented in the social investment landscape – people who identify as BAME, Female, LGBTQ+, Physically Disabled and/or Neurodivergent.

At the end of last year, we worked with Chloe Tingle from Lend a Helping Hand to create a Theory of Change. In this session, our partners told us that one of the biggest barriers to applying for finance is that the opportunities, structures and processes have been created by and are aimed at dominant cultures. This can lead to an ‘Us & Them’ culture where it is easy to make assumptions and cast judgements – both ways.

When we asked what needed to change, they said they wanted a better human experience of social investment. They asked for more inclusive spaces, where investors and investees are considered equal partners working towards the common goal of a greener, fairer, better Plymouth for everyone. They asked for safe spaces, where it is ok to have an open, honest and frank conversation about what we have to offer each other and what will enable us to take the next steps towards growing our social impact.

Our Theory of Change is a living document which will guide PSEN to create events and curate experiences which answer this call to action. It maps out what a better human experience of social investment would look like and what PSEN can advocate for to the wider social investment sector. And it has informed the design of our finale event – Plymouth! Are You Ready For Us?! Will be a face to face opportunity to meet the people behind the application portals

There are two final actions in this phase of the Building Bridges & Pathways project and you are invited to engage with us:

1) Our Social Investment Event. Delivered in partnership with SIB, this is the grand finale of our Barrow Cadbury funded series of events.
The morning session is open to all. It will introduce the funders and explain what Social Investment is and why people choose that route to growth. For more information and to book your place, please see our Eventbrite listing.
The afternoon session is by invitation only and is for organisations which are likely to be ready to take on investment in the next 6-12 months. If you think you are ready for this conversation, email

2) We are thrilled to have a University of Plymouth Intern from the School for Society and Culture join us for six weeks.
Ishita is researching how diverse the PSEN membership is, when compared to our local Plymouth population and national social enterprise sector. Her research aligns to PSEN’s core value of working in a collaborative, fair and inclusive way. It will inform the team on how to best to ensure that match our ambitions with our actions.
Please get involved and support the PSEN team on their learning journey by engaging in any requests to take part in a diversity survey or focus group.

And… this is just the beginning!
The past year has shown us that there is so much scope and need for Building Bridges & Pathways across our city and beyond. So watch this space for Phase Two, coming soon!

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network