Friday, 11 July 2008

Social Change

I once got a grant from UnLtd who have just told me that if I recommend someone wanting money for a social enterprise to them and they get a grant, I'll win a toaster. Not really. I will get six hours of professional coaching from Mirus Coaching and £250 cash. I'll give it a punt.

If you’re a social entrepreneur in the East of England and you're looking for money for a scheme, get in touch.

I'm a bit surprised though that UnLtd has tried to drum up business this way. I would have thought they'd be oversubscribed with applicants and wouldn't need any field agents. Then again, if I'm doing their marketing for them, it must be working.

I had no idea what a social entrepreneur was until I got money off UnLtd* to publish a guide to water towers which engaged a lot of people in very positive activity and now I can see there's lots of ways that photographers can be social entrepreneurs and I can think of several ways how what I know can be put to some good.

UnLtd gave me free training whilst I was in their scheme which was very interesting. I'll never forget meeting Luke Fitzherbert.

These kind of funders don't seem averse to paying for expensive kit either as long as you document everything properly.

I've just heard of some new sources of money floating around local govt. in East Anglia for getting NEETs off benefits which big charities will likely scoop up because they have people employed to look for it and they will get in there first. Digital media seems to be a fashionable way to engage young people to foster enthusiasm in applying themselves.

In which case; those charities could be looking for people with media skills such as photographers and filmmakers to deliver the services. Many photographers I know are passionate about improving society and having a meaning in their life and work more than just money. It's why they were drawn into photojournalism in the first place.

I gather though from many colleagues that shooting images for charities and good causes to promote and record their work is interesting but really badly paid.

Apart from that your subjects can be incredibly difficult, "charity" seems synonymous with poverty and employees and contractors are often expected to treat their jobs as a vocation or donate their work for free even though some charities have bulging coffers and the directors are driving Jaguars but they will still send begging letters to pensioners. (My boss on the other hand drives a secondhand Volvo).

It may well be that the economic downturn we are facing now will force those ones to rely on their huge reserves in the scenarios they said they were keeping them for.

Social change has today become a business like any other. Personally, that seems to be a model that works but the cost is, like business, that there are honest businesses who put the customer first and those in it entirely for themselves. And in business, for there to be winners, there have to be losers.

Openness and scrutiny from the media I hope will keep it fair and honest.


on Radio 4 this morning Allyson Pollock demolished the argument (pushed by US health care interests) that private businesses can run hospitals better than the public managed health care system and used the same "for winners, there have to be losers" argument. What she means is that the unprofitable and difficult care won't get any private investment.

Too right. Having lived in the US with about the very best health insurance coverage my job at Warner Bros. offered, I still shudder at the thought thousands of conditions being excluded from coverage and the fear of crippling co-pays and all the form filling and seeing twenty people alone employed at my dentist's office just to manage the billing which, after his plane, was his biggest overhead.

*UnLtd paid for the printing.

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