Fringe Box



Free Service To Help Out Of Work People Build Better Futures

Published on: 2 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 6 Feb, 2017

Unemployed people living in Guildford can now benefit from a new project which offers free support to help them develop the ideas, confidence and skills they need to become self-employed or to create a social enterprise.

Inspiring Enterprise is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund and provides tailored support to unemployed people or those who are looking to return to work – such as lone parents, carers, people with disabilities and people in minority groups.

The free support includes:

  • ‘Is It For Me?’ sessions to explore what’s involved in becoming self-employed and to find out more about social enterprise
  • Workshops and training sessions on getting the basics right
  • Face-to-face meetings for advice and developing ideas
  • Mentoring to fine tune business plans
  • Networking opportunities
  • Meet the Boss sessions for inspiration.

Surrey Community Action, based in Burpham, is one of the organisations delivering the initiative in the west and north-west areas of Surrey and parts of Hampshire, together with WSX Enterprise, Action Hampshire, The University of Winchester and Fredericks Foundation.

It is hosting a free ‘Is It For Me?’ taster session on Thursday, February 23, in central Guildford. For further information or to book a place contact Marisa Shaw on 01483 447124 or via email (Eligibility criteria apply).

Erica Sandford is Surrey Community Action’s Inspiring Enterprise Project Officer. She said: “You don’t need to have a business idea, or have even thought about social enterprise as an option yet, but if you think this is something you’d like to explore further then we would love to hear from you.”

She will be liaising with job clubs and social groups, that include unemployed people, as well as children’s centres, for example, that are in touch with those out of work. Part of her role is to engage with people in rural locations as well.

Erica is enthusiastic about the project and particularly social enterprises. She said these provide exciting opportunities and can inspire people to get into employment who may have difficulties finding jobs in the traditional way.

A social enterprise operates as a business but has a clear social or environmental purpose rather than trading for purely commercial reasons.

She said: “This way into employment may be ideal for people who have a passion about something, or see something missing in society or their community and want to address that. It may be something small, but can make a real difference.”

Erica pointed out that the scheme will not be pushing people into something they may not be ready for. All options will be discussed fully and an important part of the advice and support will focus on the sustainability of an idea or project.

She added: “We will be pleased to talk not only to individuals, but to groups of people who have come together with an idea.”

People who have retired, but who would like to set up a social enterprise that will benefit their community are also welcome to get in contact, but participants in the project must not be in any kind of employment.

For groups and organisations who work with unemployed people in the west Surrey area, Erica said they can refer individuals to her via Surrey Community Action or she is happy to meet up with them to discuss the project. Taster sessions for specific groups can also be arranged.

More information from Erica Sandford on 01483 447140, mobile 07472 599885. Email:

The Inspiring Enterprise project has received up to £1.45 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.

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