As we move towards the close of 2023, it seems fitting to consider the year that is very nearly over and to look to the future as our thoughts turn towards 2024. What will this next year bring? How will it compare to 2023? And furthermore, how will it compare to the plans we have in mind as our plans seem to have a habit of growing legs!
But before we look to the future, we should really consider the past. When you run a social enterprise, you have to have a certain level of self-belief in the great things you are doing for the right reasons. But it’s also really lovely when you have some external validation of that, and during 2023 there were three such highlights.
Firstly, on International Women’s Day, Lucy was recognised as one of the Euclid Networks Top 100 Women Leaders in Social Enterprise, an annual honour bestowed upon women trailblazers who are helping to shape the European social enterprise ecosystem.
This was followed by a surprise shortlisting for the Great British Entrepreneurs Awards. Described as “the Grammys of entrepreneurship”, the awards serve as a platform to honour the remarkable stories of entrepreneurs who have overcome challenges, demonstrated resilience, and made significant contributions to their communities.
Finally, towards the end of the year, we were delighted to be selected as one of 12 organisations to join the Aster Foundation’s inc. Programme for social entrepreneurs taking place during 2024. This is recognition that Positive About Inclusion is a business that can “change the world and support communities to combat the causes and effects of poverty” and the programme will support us to measure and share our social impact more widely.
Aside from these lovely examples of encouragement and recognition, what strikes me about 2023 is a sense of pride and nervous excitement in the launch of the Inclusion Forum North East – something that a number of our clients had highlighted to us as a gap in our region that they felt we had the enthusiasm and skill to fill. And they weren’t wrong! During 2023, we held two in person events as well as conducting research on what a network of this type could deliver and 2024 will see that work come to life with a series of events to be held throughout the year and the launch of an exclusive online members area.
And the Inclusion Forum North East won’t be our only focus for 2024. As well as continuing to work with a diverse range of clients from the private, public and charitable sectors, our plans and predictions for the year ahead include:
- Extending our work beyond the UK – having worked with clients whose areas of operation extend throughout the UK, Europe, North America and Asia (such as LeoVegas and Quark), we’re excited to continue that expansion into Africa in early 2024 working with a motor manufacturing client.
- Expanding our offer with e-learning– we will continue to design and deliver bespoke e-learning packages. This is a new service which is already proving to be a cost-effective and productivity maximising way of continuing the engaging and approachable ‘tone of voice’ we use in our online and face to face training delivery.
- Enhancing our impact with an holistic approach – within the housing sector the Ombudsman and others will continue their spotlight on the attitudes and behaviours of colleagues when tailoring service delivery (especially for vulnerable customers). By combining our subject area expertise in EDI and Customer Experience, we are delivering impactful training interventions that provide practical and tangible skills whilst maximising value for money.
It will be so interesting to look back on our plans when we reach the end of 2024. One things is for sure, we will enjoy what we do and be proud of the positive impact we make.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of the wonderful clients, friends and extended network who provide support and encouragement in so many ways. Thank you for your continued support!