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We're making some changes

We’d like to let you know about some changes that will be taking place at Social Business Brokers CIC over the coming weeks.

Over the last 13 years we have developed and delivered a wide range of projects, but the resources to continue to develop new projects are increasingly hard to come by. Therefore, we are now focussing on our two ongoing and high-impact projects: Empty Homes Doctor and Leeds School Uniform Exchange.

Two of our co-directors, Rob Greenland and Suzanne Nicholls, are leaving to pursue other opportunities relating to the circular economy and the climate emergency and Gill Coupland remains as Operations Director supported by our experienced team.

SBB was set up as a Community Interest Company in 2010 by Leeds-based social entrepreneurs Gill Coupland and Rob Greenland.

Suzanne joined in 2019, first as a freelancer and then as co-director, specialising in communications and engagement and with a clear focus on finding ways to engage the public on climate change and laterally circular economy.

Over the last thirteen years our aim has been to work with people to develop creative, collaborative solutions to complex social problems.

We’ve worked on a wide range of social issues over that time, including adult social care, affordable housing, empty homes, zero waste and the circular economy.

We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved together. Through Empty Homes Doctor we have supported owners of empty homes in Leeds to bring them back into use – nearly 1000 since 2013. We’re delighted that this work will continue, thanks to funding from Leeds City Council.

And in 2018 we set up Zero Waste Leeds - to explore a range of ways to work with people in Leeds to help us move towards being a zero waste city. Alongside a number of eye-catching behaviour change campaigns, we set up Leeds School Uniform Exchange, a network of exchanges across the city, making it easy for people to get hold of free school uniform - saving people money whilst cutting down on waste.

We recently received funding from Leeds City Council to run Leeds School Uniform Exchange for a further twelve months.

We also collaborated with The RSA to explore how Leeds could lead the way on sustainable fashion – a project that brought people and organisations together to reimagine a different kind of future. It became a key part of The RSA’s regenerative futures workstream, and has opened the door for new sustainable fashion projects to emerge in the city.

And as well as developing our own projects, we’ve supported other organisations to have a positive impact in Leeds - such as Leeds Community Homes. We supported LCH with their first community share offer - coordinating the community engagement campaign which raised £360,000 from a community share offer, to create affordable housing in Leeds.

Yet alongside the successes, it is important to acknowledge the challenges we have faced to sustain and develop our work, particularly over the last two years. Whilst interest in our work is consistently high, this doesn’t always translate into new funding or sources of income, making it difficult to sustain projects that will deliver the type of high impact, long term change that we believe is needed to respond effectively to the Climate Emergency.

It is a common problem in our sector and will be familiar to many organisations like ours. Our primary responsibility now is to secure the future of our two highly-successful, funded projects.

We have therefore decided to focus our efforts on successful delivery of these two high-impact projects. We have also come to the conclusion that we no longer have the resources to continue to invest in developing new circular economy projects which we have been working on over the last two years.

As a result, two of our three co-directors, Rob Greenland and Suzanne Nicholls, will be leaving SBB in May. Gill Coupland will remain involved in the organisation, working on Empty Homes Doctor and Leeds School Uniform Exchange.

We have also recruited a new member of staff to support delivery of our projects. We are also working with staff to support them to take on extra responsibilities.

We’d like to thank our funders - most notably Leeds City Council and Leeds Community Foundation - for their continued support for our work. And we’d also like to thank the many, many stakeholders who engage with our work and support us to achieve what we do.

And of course we would like to thank Rob and Suzanne for all they have done over the years to help us to deliver such a broad range of social and environmental impacts in Leeds. We wish them well as they both continue to explore opportunities relating to the circular economy and the climate emergency. Suzanne’s Linkedin profile is here, and Rob’s Linkedin profile is here.

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