Helicopters, wine and the third largest steam engine in England – Big Potential in unlikely places

23 August 2017

Time is running out for charities and social enterprises looking to apply for a grant from Big Potential. Marketing Executive Oliver Monty looks at three organisations that have taken advantage of the programme to ready themselves for investment.

The sun has almost set on Big Potential and it’s been a great journey.

383 organisations funded, £16.7m disbursed and countless lessons learned.

But Big Potential was never just about numbers. What mattered were the unique organisations that we were able to support. And the lives that they were able to improve as a result.

As we’ve sifted through your applications over the last few years, there have definitely been some that have stood out as unusual  - in a good way!

Magpas Air Ambulance

Most charities’ overheads don’t include helicopters – but Magpas Air Ambulance is not your average charity.

Based in Cambridgeshire, this high-flying air ambulance service provides specialist emergency care, training and research across the East of England and beyond. Many of their highly trained staff work on a voluntary basis and, to date, they’ve been called out to over 60,000 incidents since 1971.

With rising numbers of patients requiring their emergency care (up 59% from 2015 to 2016) – Magpas Air Ambulance needed other options to complement their traditional fundraising model.

After applying to Big Potential Advanced the charity was awarded a £126,000 grant to work with Baxendale. This enabled them to begin financial modelling and form a growth plan – the first step to securing the multimillion pound investment needed to set up a brand new airbase and replace a leased-helicopter.

Forty Hall Vineyard

When it comes to community organisations, Forty Hall is another rare vintage.

The first commercial-scale vineyard in London since medieval times, Forty Hall boasts 10 acres of farmland from which it produces and sells high quality wine.

As well its dedication to sustainable farming practices, the organisation invests its surplus income into ‘ecotherapy’, helping vulnerable members of the local community develop through viticulture programmes.

c. Mike Willis
photo credit: Mike Willis

Forty Hall needed investment to scale up their production facilities and become fully sustainable. They were awarded a £29,960 grant via Big Potential Breakthrough to help them take the first steps down this path.

They paired with provider Plunkett Foundation who helped them create a new marketing strategy, improve their governance structure and undertake a skills audit.

With Forty Hall now in a better position to explore social investment it's worth raising a glass to celebrate the success of this enterprising social business.

“It was incredibly useful to be part of the Big Potential programme – we've learnt a lot about social investment options for smaller organisations and have worked hard, with the excellent support of our provider to get ourselves investment ready.  We hope to launch a crowd-funding campaign in the near future and to develop a membership scheme for local supporters.”

Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, Forty Hall Vineyard

Leigh Building Preservation Trust

Established in 2013, the Leigh Building Preservation Trust (LBPT) protects Leigh Spinners Mill, a steam-powered mill that has had a place in the heart of the local community since 1915.

But operating as the third largest steam engine in the country has a cost. Realising that the Mill’s dependence on grants was unsustainable, LBPT looked to use social investment to secure its future.

Leigh Spinners Engine

An exciting new plan was put together to refurbish the Mill, establish a community workspace and increase revenue from tourism. After being awarded a £25,275 preliminary grant to work with provider Adrian Ashton, LBPT were able to set up their own financial and impact reporting procedures – crucial systems to appeal to investors.

LBPT are now on their way to securing investment to convert Mill Number 2 into an enterprise hub for local businesses and restoring the heritage site’s rightful status as a must-see tourist attraction.

Not every charity or social enterprise has to be unusual to make a difference. If you haven’t already applied to Big Potential Breakthrough the deadline for final applications is Friday 15th September. Contact bigpotential@sibgroup.org.uk if you have any questions.

CAN Logo
BSI ISO 9001 & UKAS Logo

The Social Investment Business is the trading name for the Social Investment Business Foundation, Registered Company No. 05777484 (England), Registered Charity No. 1117185 (England & Wales), The Social Investment Business Limited, Registered in England No. 06490609, VAT No. 927456693, Futurebuilders-England Limited, Registered in England No. 05066676 and Forward Enterprise FM Ltd, Registered in England No.11238102. Registered Office: CAN Mezzanine, Borough, 7-14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR.

We use cookies to improve your experience using this website. Learn more