I’m already seven months into my year with the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Start-up Programme at the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in Ipswich. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun etc… but more about that later.
April 18 was day 200 – Good Friday – and a good day for further reflection on my progress in setting up The Repair Shed – a will-be environmental social enterprise involving older men in purposeful but unpaid employment – making, mending and learning.
A timely reminder of my plan (and deviation from it) also drops through my letterbox in the shape of a postcard, sent by SSE but written by me last October, about what I wanted to achieve in the six months to end March 2014. So what does it say on that oh-so-optimistic postcard?
For me, by April 2014 I planned to ‘know I’m going to get paid for the next 6 months’ and for The Repair Shed, to have ‘shed members recruited and active’ and to be ‘earning income’.
On the ‘members active’ front, I’m pleased to say that, after an inspiring and energizing shed crawl to Milton Keynes and Aylesbury at the end of March, we’re having a final meeting on 1st May (Labour Day – significant I think) before we literally roll up our sleeves and get hands-on. We’re going to start small, one day a week, but I think the move will be important for making The Repair Shed more real for both insiders and outsiders.
So we’re not yet earning income and nor am I. Unless, that is, you count a £20 donation for putting someone’s IKEA shelves together (did you know there are literally hundreds of companies offering that same service – along with IKEA themselves?) A crowded market and not one for The Repair Shed I think. Try putting ‘flatpack assembly’ into Google if you don’t believe me.
At the start of this blog post I mentioned the F-word – fun – and I can honestly say the last 200 days have been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding of my entire career in the not-for-private-profit sector.
But F for fun, not for funding.
As no one is currently paying me to do what I’m doing, I’ve been tempted to think I can be a free spirit and do pretty much what I like as long as I’m developing The Repair Shed. This isn’t the case of course, and I now know I need to be more formally held to account, in advance of possible income-generation (for The Repair Shed) and funding (to cover my time).
With this in mind, I’m setting up a steering group – inviting people whom I hope will want to help develop The Repair Shed through a personal and professional interest. People willing to attend tightly-run meetings at which I report on what I say I’m going to do/ have done and they share their expertise and insights. To keep a wider group of people abreast of my exploits, I’m planning a monthly e-bulletin – Make & Mend – from May onwards, to allow others to look through The Repair Shed window.
If you’d like to have a regular, short and, hopefully, lively update on what we’re getting up to in the Repair Shed, just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Make & Mend subscription’ in the subject box.