Livewire - January 31, 2014

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By Carmen Conquer

I am the service development manager for Aspirational Leisure Activities (community interest concern) and Aspired Futures (charity) in Blackpool.

The former was set up over five years ago by professionals with 16 years experience of providing intense family support packages to the most challenged and challenging families in areas of significant deprivation in Blackpool.

They gained trust, opened channels of communication within homes and won the respect of multi agency professionals.

They soon realised that long-term positive changes would only come if the children were given the opportunity to break away from destructive lifestyles and aspire to a better future.

They created a local independent organisation focusing full attention on children and young people with complex needs who come to us for support in making life-changing choices with or without the support of their parents/carers.  Our expertise is to engage with and support vulnerable ‘Hard to Reach’ children and young people who are struggling to fit in, are dis-engaged from conventional educational and leisure provision and are at extreme risk of negative outcomes.

The service was set up as CIC move away from traditional charitable models, and allow us to access a wide variety of funding and development. However, it became clear with the first two years that the CIC concept was not the ideal vehicle to pursue funding streams for Aspired Futures. Small scale trusts and funds and some bigger funders do not accept CIC bids. Local businesses often implied that as a company we did not need support. So we registered as a charity and created Aspired Futures alongside our CIC status. Our journey highlights that charitable status is more suitable for a “business” that provides non-profitable social care services and heavily relies on local fundraising, bid writing and local business support. CICs, through lack of awareness, are often perceived as a profit making business and that can jeopardise sustainability.