I recently went to the Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber 2019 Conference and being new to the social enterprise world and being a recent addition to the SEYH family I did not know what to expect. I walked into the well-kept church hall belonging to the Huddersfield Mission, I can confess to being a tad nervous.

This was, of course, ridiculous, because as soon as I walked through those big double doors, I was made to feel welcome, the wonderful Ali Ward and the SEYH volunteers. I quickly started chatting with other members and supporters, each with their own inspirational tale to tell. My only regret here is that I could quite easily write an essay on each encounter, but it filled me full of hope and fired up my passion to help make this world a better place.

The conference itself was split into two keynote speakers, and a series of eight conversations that took place each half an hour, which I thought was refreshing, because I’ve been to many a conference where people just seem to talk at you the whole time and this placed huge emphasis on getting to know each other. The whole thing was compared by Ali, who did a great job and made me laugh quite a lot, while really getting across a feeling of camaraderie for the theme of rebelling.

First up, Keynote Speak Lucy Findlay MBE from Social Enterprise Mark, who was incredibly inspirational. She spoke about what they do and how valuable it is for companies to demonstrate the high standards of social value they create and to network with others who share our goals. She also spoke about the future and how the UK government should look to Victoria in Australia for inspiration.

Then the second Keynote was Nick Temple who is the CEO of the Social Investment Group. He was incredibly engaging and was very open and honest and transparent about where the Social Investment Group were at with regards to measuring social impact, which was wonderfully refreshing for a CEO. He also suggested 5 rules for rebelling with a cause:

  1. Serve and advocate
  2. How you do as well as what you do 0
  3. Never forget who you’re for
  4. The planet is also your cause
  5. Be open

The point I’d like to touch on here is point 4, Nick said: “Whatever your social cause is, the planet is also your cause now too”. I’ve spent the past few weeks condensing this and he is right, at first I thought it was unfair to ask people who are already doing so much to do more, but the more I thought about it, this is an issue for us all and we should lead by example, just as we are doing with our other social causes. I will follow this up with a full blog post in due course.

The conversation, was a really nice touch and I attended four in total:

Rebelling by Marketing Strategy – Featuring the fascinating Rachel Shaw, from Yolk Marketing, who rightly suggested that busy entrepreneurial social enterprise leaders should have a solid marketing strategy in place.

Rebellious By Leadership – Featuring the very insightful Karen Amos of Brightbird. She focused on Authentic Leadership something that is very close to my heart as it very much reminded me of working for the best CEO I’ve ever worked for.

Rebellious By Social Investment – Hosted by Adrian Bean of Keyfund, and supported by Investment Manager Karen Hobson, both very caring people, who spent a good deal of time talking me through various funding options available. What struck me the most is that they both seem to really enjoy their jobs, which from experience is not a commonly shared trait in finance.  

Rebelling Through Social Values – Featuring the witty and funny Helen Hoyle from SEE Ahead and the lovely Andrea Turton from Social Value Engine. I have to confess to feeling out of place here because I was surrounded at the time by people who had all done social impact reports and knew a lot about it, but it turned out to be fantastic. Each person was happy to give their time to encourage me and impressed that I wanted to look into measuring social impact from the start.

All in all it was a fantastic experience with me taking a huge amount from each element of the conference and going back home with a spring in my step.

I’d like to thank Ali and the volunteers and directors at SEYH, it was a truly great experience and I’m very much looking forward to next year.