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Why the case for social and community-focused supply chains is more important than ever

COVID-19 touches almost every facet of our lives and has presented us with a wide range of challenges to grapple with, from supporting our healthcare systems and frontline workers, to businesses facing financial hardship — everyone has been affected in different ways.

Social enterprises and community-based organisations are no exception to this yet their work is arguably more important than ever. These organisations support people who will be particularly vulnerable to the effects of isolation and social distancing such as the elderly, refugee and migrant communities, and those with mental health conditions. The crisis has meant that many have had to cancel their face-to-face services and close drop-in centres indefinitely leading to economic uncertainty and concern for the people they help.

Despite this, the sector is proving to be a crucial player in mitigating the impact of Coronavirus on communities, demonstrating resilience, creativity and innovation. Some like We Are Digital and InCommon have moved entire businesses online in a matter of weeks whilst others like Dare to Care Packages have emerged as new initiatives set up purely in response to the crisis. Many organisations have adapted their services to support the most vulnerable, thanks to willing volunteers and donations. Badu, a sports charity, has moved online and is providing families with care packages under a new initiative called ‘One Community.’ Cooking charity Made in Hackney has already crowdfunded an astonishing £66k and is delivering emergency meals on wheels service.

The crisis has also underlined the limitations and fragility of global supply chains, the importance of a diverse and local supplier base and the need to rethink the way we do business as usual. Once we start to move towards recovery the case for social and community organisations, who are rooted in local economies, will be stronger than ever. This is particularly true for local authorities and the housing sector who exist to help communities thrive.

A well-resourced community sector will be needed to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis that will likely follow the health one. We have seen during the health crisis that local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations are important and necessary delivery partners to the government — this will be even more the case as we see the economic fallout begin to impact local communities.

Supply Change and the Social Value Exchange are two digital solutions that aim to broker relationships between the public, private and VCSE sectors. Our organisations have complementary approaches, with both helping to deliver social value from the procurement process and positive social outcomes at the same time.

About Supply Change

Supply Change is a platform that aims to increase the visibility of social enterprises. The platform hosts pre-vetted B2B social suppliers delivering a range of goods and services and connects them to public and private sector buyers. We enable organisations to find the best supplier for their needs and get in touch at the click of a button.

Social Value Exchange

The Social Value Exchange matches private sector resources — IT hardware, business expertise, funding — with accredited local community projects: they get resources to where they are most needed in local communities.

In challenging times, collaborating with like-minded organisations can be key to achieving maximum impact. As Supply Change and the Social Value Exchange both offer brokerage solutions at different points of the procurement process, we’ve decided to form a strategic partnership together which we hope will continue long after this crisis is over.

Through our partnership we hope to demonstrate that meeting social value targets should be more than just a tick box exercise; indeed, we hope to show that there is a strong, clear and compelling economic rationale for more social suppliers in local supply chains, and for a better-resourced VCSE sector to help manage local demand for expensive centralised government services.

To kick our partnership off we’ve teamed up to create the “Social Enterprise and Community Organisations Directory”. Because our public sector partners are so busy responding to the COVID-19 crisis, we’re changing our approach. We’ve collated a directory of social enterprises, cooperatives and community organisations which will allow all of the public sector partners and corporate businesses we’ve worked with over the years to see who they can either still buy services from or offer financial and non-financial support to during this time.

By creating this open-source directory we hope to ensure that the amazing organisations we work with still have access to as many networks and opportunities as possible and promote the work they do.

Access the directory on our website!

If you’re a supplier of any B2B goods or services and you would like to be featured on the directory sign up here.

If you’re a community organisation looking for support and would like to be featured, sign up here.


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