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Home » USE-IT! Birmingham – Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together

USE-IT! Birmingham – Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together


USE-IT! Birmingham

Citizen Coaching CIC is delighted to be a partner in USE-IT! Birmingham (Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together) Led by Birmingham social enterprise development organisation, iSE CIC, this  is an exciting and innovative programme to create a new community of social entrepreneurs to tackle poverty and social isolation in their local neighbourhoods across west Birmingham and Sandwell. The aim is to replicate the successful work already delivered by iSE in the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter (http://digbethsocentquarter.co.uk).


The USE-IT! programme (Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together), will generate a ‘place-based’ community of social entrepreneurs and like-minded individuals who will work to solve deeply entrenched local social and environmental issues through the creation of social enterprises trading in areas such as health, food, technology, education and tourism.

Funding of £3 million has been allocated for the 3 year project through a new Initiative of the European Commission, ‘Urban Innovative Actions’ (UIA), that provides urban areas throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges. Approximately 359 million people – 72% of the total EU population – live in cities, towns and suburbs. Urban areas face multiple and interconnected challenges related to employment, migration, demography, water and soil pollution. However, they are also engines of new ideas and solutions, dynamic places where changes happen on a larger scale and at a fast pace.

Facilitated by Birmingham City Council, USE-IT! Birmingham delivery in the Birmingham area is specifically aimed at developing and opening up new markets for social enterprises, whether through capacity-building scale and growth in the social enterprise sector, broking partnerships with private sector organisations or supporting contract readiness for public sector opportunities. iSE will also be supporting social enterprises through a new USE-IT! Challenge and small start-up grants being awarded as part of the USE-IT! Birmingham programme that will empower and enable social enterprises to be robust, sustainable and confident in approaching new market opportunities.

USE-IT! Birmingham tour Citizen Home

USE-IT project launch tour visit Citizen Home

The Chief Executive of iSE, Sarah Crawley says, ‘West Birmingham and Sandwell have areas of multiple deprivation that have deeply entrenched social challenges that are not being resolved as local people often feel a lack of empowerment to change things, either at a personal level or a local level. USE-IT! Birmingham is different because we are working with those individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to catalyse positive change in their own local communities.

Through the range of partners, we will provide access to mentors, support, events and resources to engage and develop the knowledge and skills to establish a thriving network of social enterprises providing solutions to local social and economic issues through generating employment opportunities, improving health outcomes, enabling skills development and opening up new markets for ethically-based goods and services.’

Cllr Carl Rice, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, explained, ‘Birmingham needs innovative, bold and creative ideas to tackle urban challenges and the USE-IT! Birmingham project is a rare opportunity for the City and its partners to take a risk and experiment, to test how new and unproven solutions work in practice and how they respond to the complexity of real life.’

USE IT! sees a collaboration of partners including iSE, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, University of Birmingham, Health Exchange CIC, Co-op Futures, Localise WM, Citizen Coaching CIC and Smethwick Can coming together to support delivery of the programme across the Birmingham area.

iSE is keen to work with wider organisations based in Birmingham and the West Midlands who are interested in being involved with USE-IT! Birmingham and is already talking to a number of private and public sector organisations along with third sector charities who support the transformation and regeneration of Birmingham communities.



iSE are a leading and nationally recognised, award winning social enterprise development organisation providing development opportunities for social enterprises, community organisations and not-for-profits in Birmingham and across the wider West Midlands.


Contact:                 Sarah Crawley

Email:                      sarah.crawley@i-se.co.uk

Telephone:           0121 771 1411

Website:                http://www.i-se.co.uk/

Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter

DSEQ was launched on 12th December 2013 by the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore. Birmingham City Council has pledged to support the development of a thriving social enterprise sector, seeing it as an important part of a healthy mixed local economy.


Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council has set clear objectives for delivery against resources, these being: Children, Housing, Jobs and Skills, Health.


Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) is here to connect, support and grow local businesses. Accredited by the British Chambers, we have acted as the voice of local businesses since 1813 and is based in Edgbaston, Birmingham, and covers six geographic divisions and three themed Chambers.


University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a public research university located in Edgbaston, Birmingham with faculties in Arts and Law, Medical and Dental Sciences, Life and Environmental Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Social Sciences.


Health Exchange CIC

Health Exchange CIC was formed in Birmingham in 2006 with the aim of creating a dialogue with the community about health and wellbeing. Our guiding belief is that everyone should be and could be empowered to take positive control of their health and wellbeing.


Co-op Futures

Co-operative Futures is a business development consultancy specialising in co-operative, mutual and community led businesses who want to know about more about community ownership and co-operative business models across sectors including retail, leisure, community asset transfer, renewable energy, care and many more.



Localise WM

A not-for-profit think-tank, campaign group and consultancy, which promotes localisation for social, environmental and economic benefit and working towards local supply chains, money flow, ownership and power for a more just and sustainable economy.



Citizen Coaching CIC

Citizen Coaching CIC is a social enterprise that enables adults and young people to live better lives by providing timely, affordable, jargon-free access to counselling, anger management, personal development coaching and employment skills training.


Smethwick Can

A joint response from local churches to tackle poverty, increase aspiration, provide opportunities and support the most vulnerable in our communities.


European Regional Development Fund

The ERDF aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions.


Urban Innovative Actions

Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is an Initiative of the European Commission that provides urban areas throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges. Based on article 8 of ERDF, the Initiative has a total ERDF budget of EUR 372 million for 2014-2020.



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