The Shaftesbury Partnership annual event took place on Monday evening in Committee Room G of the House of Lords. This event is a chance for us to say thank you to those who have supported us over the past year. However, it is also a chance to fill a room with interesting people from the worlds of social investment, corporates, social enterprise, local government, the senior civil service, politics and the media, and to throw them a series of conversation starters.
Steve Gapik of British Gas kicked off proceedings by debunking the myth that working with social enterprises adds cost. British Gas is to invest £1 billion over 2 years engaging communities to improve fuel efficiency and tackle fuel poverty, and as one of the founding members of the Social Business Partnership, the company is working hard to create a positive social impact through bringing social enterprises into its supply chains.
One of Shaftesbury Partnership’s strengths, according to Dan Lehner of UnLtd, is bringing people together and making connections to help drive innovation. As a delivery partner for The Big Venture Challenge, Shaftesbury Partnership will support social entrepreneurs to develop effective and strategic networks, and Dan reminded us that horizontal networks are three times more innovative than vertical ones. Sitting in an office working alone will only get you so far. Group conversations and seeking fresh perspectives are where the exciting stuff happens.
Nurse First is one of Shaftesbury Partnership’s most high-profile ventures and is supported by Johnson & Johnson. Rhoda Steel, head of CSR, described this partnership as a privilege for Johnson & Johnson, it being aligned with the company’s credo dating back to the 1940s of acting responsibly towards their communities. She also spoke about the importance of investing in the innovation that takes place at the front line, and their passion for collaboration. These two themes were picked up by Dave Dawes, Project Lead of Nurse First. Dave believes that the network provided by Shaftesbury Partnership has been crucial in Nurse First’s success, and he also emphasised the importance of giving frontline staff the tools to translate innovative ideas into solutions.
Lord Wei, founder of Shaftesbury Partnership, gave us the final thoughts from the floor, and once again collaboration was a central theme. His message was that government is becoming less influential, and that building partnerships with multinationals and cities has “the power to unleash an unstoppable force for good.”