Over 120 social entrepreneurs, including the Black Sheep Collective, have been awarded funding from UnLtd’s Inclusive Recovery Fund. This is a £4.75 million fund to help social entrepreneurs in England deliver important services during the Coronavirus crisis.

The fund aims to unleash social entrepreneurs’ potential at a pivotal moment in the UK’s economic and social recovery. 72% of grants went to leaders with lived experience. These are leaders with direct first-hand experience of social problems, who are activating these experiences to inform, shape and lead their social ventures.

“This will directly benefit the communities they share those experiences with!”

The Black Sheep Collective CIC is a multi-award winning, innovative community interest company that delivers artistic programming and cultural activity. We access the arts’ transformational power to facilitate creative place-making, community cohesion, and development.
Our flagship social enterprise venture, Bar Bar Black Sheep coffee shop and arts space, is located in Wolverton, Milton Keynes. Through this model, the site has provided much-needed space and activities, as well as significant community investment of surplus funds.
Operating a suspended coffee scheme, guests have actively supported the model for over five years. During the early stages of the pandemic, Bar Bar Black Sheep adapted its services, led by local volunteers to set up, support and fund a community volunteer unit to assist those who were isolating, shielding and vulnerable.

We have recently begun a partnership with local youth arts charity, MK Play Association to provide creative activities for children and families and generate vital funding for the charity to continue its fantastic outreach.
The inclusive recovery fund, recognises the dedication, work and impact of everyone at the Black Sheep Collective, including our volunteers, staff, artists and practitioners, and ensures we can continue to deliver our unique programming whilst evolving the organisation for a post-pandemic landscape.

Our Executive Director, Dan Quinn, said:

“We are extremely grateful to the Inclusive Recovery Fund for acknowledging the hard work of all our volunteers, staff and artists. This fund will enable us to continue on a successful trajectory, develop new works and furthermore really upscale our community investment and social impact to reach further, deliver more and meet the needs and aspirations of the people and places we work with.
We have a new portfolio and new set of charitable objectives to guide this evolution, and we look forward to expanding our remit and sphere, continuing to work with partners, from across sectors to put people and planet before profit.”

Funding is available thanks to a partnership with Comic Relief, matched by the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport as part of the Government’s £750 million support package for charities. Mark Norbury, Chief Executive, UnLtd, explains:

“We were astonished at the quality and number of applications for this fund, demonstrating a clear and continuing funding gap for high-potential social entrepreneurs across a breadth of causes, communities, venture-types and sectors. It’s evident that social entrepreneurs have the resilience, impact and potential to be front and centre of the UK’s recovery from COVID-19. Those funded today will be leading lights as we enter the next act of the coronavirus crisis – allowing us a glimpse of hope and optimism as the year draws to a close and we look further ahead to what comes next.”

Ruth Davison, Chief Executive, Comic Relief, added:

“The range of work set to be delivered is outstanding. The 120 talented entrepreneurs are using their skills to engage and empower people who are often overlooked and face a range of inequalities. Their work will be a vital part of helping communities throughout the pandemic and its recovery.”

Now, that 2020 is over and we emerge blinking into the new year’s sunlight, the Black Sheep Collective aims to be a leading light in the local community. We will engage and empower those who are often overlooked and who face a range of inequalities.
We are very much looking forward to using our new funding to help our local community.

Until next time,
Danny Quinn