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We meet Richard Beck from Fulwell Community Library and one of our nominees for the Social Entrepreneur Index 2020.

What does your social enterprise do?

Library, IT and Community Centre.

What made you start your business up?

A need in the Community.

How do you measure your impact?

Satisfaction levels in users/statistics.

What help did you have to start your social enterprise?

Grant of £11,007.

How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?

Advice from National Lottery Bright Ideas Fund.

What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?

Helping local people.

What have been the three biggest challenges that you have overcome (or that you’re still working on)?

An old building in need of much updating, Negotiating the lease, Adapting the café area.

What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?

Don’t hesitate, it becomes easier. Write a good Business Plan and be sure where your income will come from or ask for help in writing one. Plan your route and train your staff. Pick the right staff.

Why do you think social enterprise is important?

In a period of reducing funds, it is important for those who can to step forward and keep important services going.

What’s been your most rewarding experience as a social entrepreneur?

Being nominated for a Best of Wearside Award.

What information sources would you recommend (books, websites, organisations?) to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?

The National Lottery Bright Ideas Fund.

What’s been the most surprising thing about creating a social enterprise?

How our users have bought into the whole idea.

What are your plans for the next 2-5 years?

Improve the building and tackle the leaky roof, rotten windows and extend while reducing bills and outgoings.

What is the biggest change you would like to see in the world?

Caring governments that look after their people.

What have been your three proudest moments as a social entrepreneur?

Best of Wearside Award Ceremony, Being told that the library was a credit to Sunderland by Sunderland Council Director of Leisure. Helping other libraries with advice and practical help.

What would you say to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their businesses?

Work out carefully what you want to achieve putting the accent on people, work out how you are going to do it. Make sure it is enjoyable and fulfilling.

The UK Social Entrepreneur Index is a celebration of social entrepreneurship across the UK.

Open to social entrepreneurs tackling a social or environmental issue at any scale, entrants will act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact.

For more information visit www.socialentsindex.co.uk

Amanda Armstrong
Article by Amanda Armstrong
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