Liverpool City Region based, First Ark, is reporting an impressive year-end result for 2016/17; showing a 100% uplift in its social accounting results, delivering a staggering £22.5 million in social impact value in 2017. This increased result has been powered by the social outcomes enabled through their recently launched Social Investment Funds. The funds, launched in October 2016 provides both grants and loans to third sector and social enterprise organisations, to enable capacity building as many traditional funding routes can be difficult to access for these organisations.
Social impacts are the results of an organisation’s activities, projects or policies and the effects these have on people’s lives. First Ark’s comprehensive social impact measurement allows the organisation to recognise, govern and share the social value it generates. As a social purpose business First Ark’s mission and values are core to everything they do and their subsequent management of social impact also allows them to target resources, influence others, improve the overall wellbeing and choices of individuals and society as a whole and provide maximum contribution to the social economy.
Talking about the benefits of the social investment funds and the social impact report, First Ark’s CEO, Bob Taylor, said:
“First Ark launched its Social Investment Fund at the Northern Enterprise Conference in Manchester, October 2016. Through this £4 million fund called ‘Invest for Impact’, the First Ark Group has invested into charities and social impact businesses to help them grow and continue to create ladders of opportunity. First Ark also became a Reach Fund provider this year, which is a fund that can support organisations to become investment ready.
“Our core business is about creating a number of social businesses to recruit, train, flourish and employ directly for and in the communities that we serve. Publishing such powerful results in the 2016/2017 set of social accounts, fills our team with a real determination to continue to create these rewarding and life changing opportunities.”
Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotherham, commented:
“The social economy is a vital cog in the machine which keeps our society ticking over, by contributing £1.5bn into the Liverpool City Regional economy, according to a recent report by the Heseltine Institute. First Ark is a beacon within our City Region that is making great strides to support the community they serve and I am pleased to congratulate them on the great work that they are doing to help local people.”
First Ark have generated over £6 million in social impact value with partner agencies to help tackle social isolation, putting in place tailor made care packages and a range of activities to enable independent living. This in turn helps to keep people connected with society, out of hospital and with a higher quality of life. A full set of First Ark Group’s social accounts can be downloaded here.
The range of projects supported and enabled within the year are varied and have added a wide scope of social impact to the end result. Just a few examples of the projects celebrated in the year-end report are:
Matt Houghton, from Hype, (Helping Young People Everywhere) received investment from One Ark (part of First Ark) to help Hype work with even more young people in Wirral. The social investment has supported Hype with increasing its staff numbers enabling them to make a greater impact in the communities they work in by enhancing and developing outdoor green spaces and parks attached to community centers and schools with young people at the forefront. This year Hype won Innovation award for the Park Project at the Wirral Third Sector Awards.
Emerge, a recycling shredding company based in the North West have used the investment from First Ark to safeguard 18 sustainable, full-time jobs, created a new apprenticeship position, recruited 50 volunteers and provide accredited qualifications to 30 volunteers. This has supported Emerge to recycle 2,400 tonnes of paper, cardboard, metals, plastic and wood whilst upcycling and reusing 70 tonnes of wood. Emerge have also redistributed 800 tonnes of food to 250 community groups and charities.
Working in partnership with community groups like Elywyn Gardens and Halewood Town Council meant that First Ark could support the redevelopment of a playground to give children a safe place to play, again making a substantial social impact benefitting the wider community.