On Wednesday evening, five Lewisham Changemakers pitched their ideas for business initiatives that benefit the community at a special event organised by Lewisham Homes’ Community Relations team.
Lewisham Homes, Lewisham Council’s housing management company, has run Changemakers since 2019. Successful applicants are provided with a free eight-week programme delivered by a variety of speakers, both online and in person, that covers all the basics of setting up a social enterprise or small business, from marketing to governance and from social impact to budgets.
Pitch Night is the culmination of the eight-week programme, where the participants pitch their projects and ask for feedback and support to help to take them to the next level. The invited audience included Lewisham Homes staff, partner contractors and organisations like Lewisham Local, the Horniman Museum, Goldsmiths and Lewisham Council.
It was the first in-person Changemakers event since the pandemic, though the programme has continued annually since 2019. The event was held at Hatcham House, the base of Facework Group, a Community Interest Company based in the historic Hatcham Liberal Club.
One of the offers of support came from the Lewisham Homes Community Investment Fund, which is enabling Facework Group to provide all Changemakers with free six-month membership to use its facilities at Hatcham House.
Projects pitching included a healthy juice business looking to move out of a home kitchen into a dedicated facility, with a view to employing and upskilling local people; a mentoring scheme for young people which aims to discover their interests and aptitudes to help them find a purpose; and a programme of singing workshops aimed at boosting confidence and improving mental health.
Speakers included Lewisham Homes chair Ainsley Forbes, who spoke about the organisation’s commitment to improving the lives of their residents and how offering ways to develop their entrepreneurial skills is an important part of that. Facework Group director Stephen Carrick-Davies also spoke about his experience of setting up a social enterprise in Lewisham, and how the partnership with Lewisham Homes has been mutually beneficial.
Offers of financial assistance came from, among others, United Living, a building contractor which has recently signed a ten-year agreement with Lewisham Homes to provide repairs and upgrades to the social housing stock in Lewisham.