As we step into 2024, the landscape ahead seems both familiar and challenging. The echoes of 2023 linger, with new geopolitical tensions and General Elections looming in the UK and the USA. Amidst this global backdrop, Plymouth – the Social Enterprise City, stands as a beacon of success, riding high on a triumphant Ten-Year Anniversary.

Our accomplishments resonate nationally, impressing Social Enterprise UK and capturing the interest of SIB Group. Hanna Latif, SIB’s Partnership Manager, witnessed our festival launch event, paving the way for their funding and investment partners to experience the vibrant social enterprise scene in Plymouth this coming February. The heart of PSEN lies in its engaged members, ready to build on this momentum.

At the festival, the message was clear: “We are PSEN, but YOU are Plymouth’s Social Enterprise Network.” Unpacking this, PSEN is more than an entity; it’s a community driven by individual members, the lifeblood of the network. Our members are networked into groups and communities that connect up our city and reach far beyond it. Amerie, Matt, Gareth, and the Board constitute the machine, with PSEN’s existence dependent on the synergy between the machine and its members.

However, a health check of the machine reveals financial challenges. While reserves exist, key team members face contract deadlines. Monthly running costs outpace income from membership fees, prompting a critical review. The team is diligently working on two solutions.

  •         Firstly, the exploration of a revamped membership model and fee structure aims to ensure sustainability. The unchanged fee and offer for seven years prompt a need for innovation. Could deeper partnerships and sponsorship from organisations in Plymouth and beyond be the answer? These questions highlight the intricate balance between power, association, and equity, requiring careful consideration.
  •         Secondly, developing financially rewarding links to funders and financers. The SIB opportunity adds an exciting dimension. If members succeed in securing finance through SIB, PSEN benefits. Proactive support and mentoring increase success rates, prompting PSEN to consider applying to SIB itself.

The transparency in sharing the financial snapshot emphasises that PSEN is the community’s network. The challenges we face are not hidden; they’re part of our collective journey. This year, as we navigate a challenging landscape, collaboration becomes paramount. The call is not just to members but to collaborators and partners.

To this end, the final calls to action are powerful:

Work together. Whether it is prioritising your procurement from a fellow member of this network, forming a partnership to win a contract, remember that you are not alone, and that we are stronger together.

Strengthen our collective social media voice – when we or you post, we can all post and amplify our collective message. The power of our network lies in its unity.

Remember to send PSEN your news – from social impact success to events. Share your stories, and the whole network shares in your achievements.

Looking ahead, start thinking about the Social Enterprise City Festival 2024 NOW. ‘What is already in your calendar? What can you start planning for now? This is our festival so let’s use it to showcase your work while enjoying the benefit of the PSEN machine’s amplification.

This is a valuable chance for members to ponder their organisation’s priorities and challenges, envision ways PSEN the network and PSEN the machine can help, and identify contributions to potential collaborations or partnerships.
Together, as collaborators and partners, we can navigate the challenges that lie ahead.

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network