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UnLtd joins forces with City & Guilds Group to help social entrepreneurs to thrive

A new partnership between UnLtd and City & Guilds Group will provide funding for social entrepreneurs with bold ideas to create positive change in society.

Funding from City & Guilds Group will be used to support UnLtd’s Thrive programme, which aims to improve access to employment by providing more employment and training opportunities for people furthest from the labour market.

City & Guilds Group, the global skills development body, has joined forces with UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, in a new partnership that will provide funding and expert support for social entrepreneurs to scale up and achieve greater impact.

Financial support from City & Guilds Group will be made available to entrepreneurs that run social-purpose businesses which aim to get more people into jobs and training.

Whilst current unemployment figures in the UK are low, not everyone with the desire to work is able to gain appropriate, meaningful employment. This is particularly the case for people furthest from the labour market, such as disabled people, refugees, care leavers, ex-offenders, single parents and those who are homeless.

Disabled man working at Repair Centre thanks to UnLtd and City & Guilds Group

Unltd’s Thrive programme offers a mix of finance, six months of tailored expert advice and pro-bono support to help social-purpose businesses to build connections, secure further investment, and really scale their operations. It builds on the learning from UnLtd’s Big Venture Challenge work, a similar programme which supported 120 ventures and raised more than £13 million of investment.

Mark Norbury, CEO of UnLtd, said: “I am thrilled that UnLtd is working with City & Guilds Group, a global organisation with a rich and successful history of investing in education, learning and skills development, on our Thrive programme.  Our partnership demonstrates a real commitment between our two organisations to improve access to employment for people distant from the labour market and help reduce the disability employment gap.

“Inspirational organisations such as Exceptional Individuals, who placed more than 300 talented dyslexic and neurodivergent people into meaningful work in 2018, are helping to change the mind-set of employers by showing that there are significant advantages to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Yet we know that ventures like this need support to grow and scale up to really maximise their social impact. This exciting new partnership will enable us to provide more funding and support to help ventures to make a lasting positive impact.”

Chris Jones, CEO of City & Guilds Group said: “Our purpose is to give everyone the chance to develop the skills they need to find meaningful jobs. For so many people, their ability to find lasting work is hindered by circumstances, which too often results in a vicious cycle of unemployment. 

“The partnership with UnLtd will help us deliver genuine interventions to a social system that leaves behind some of the most vulnerable people. Working with innovative and dedicated entrepreneurs who are driven by the need to make a lasting impact on lives – and economies – is a privilege and we look forward to supporting those who share our vision.”

Launched in 2018, Thrive was backed by the then minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton. Examples of ventures on UnLtd’s Thrive programme include: CrackedIt, a smartphone repair service staffed by young ex-offenders; Exceptional Individuals, an employment partnership that gets dyslexic and neuro-diverse people into employment; Fat Macy’s, a catering business that provides employment and training for unemployed homeless people; and Offploy, an organisation that is helping people with criminal convictions into meaningful work. 

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