Charity raises its game after taking part in Boost scheme

A health and care charity has increased its turnover by £1.6m to £6.5m and recruited 48 staff since 2017, thanks to Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme.

Preston-based n-compass northwest was also recently ranked 13th in the Sunday Times Top 100 Not-For-Profits to Work for in the UK, as well as being awarded three stars in the National Best Companies Scheme.

Founded 20 years ago, n-compass northwest employs 155 staff. In 2018/19 the charity supported 32,000 vulnerable adults and young people, who would otherwise have been at risk, by providing a range of prevention services for local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.  

CEO Teresa Jennings explained: “We aim to help people to regain control of their lives, enabling them to find hope and a sense of purpose through the delivery of carers, advocacy, wellbeing, counselling and volunteering services.”

Boost Lancashire Business Growth Hub is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council, and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Growth Mentoring is a fully funded Boost programme where business owners are matched with a successful businessperson to offer 1-2-1 support in order to tackle the challenges faced in growing the business. The programme is delivered by Community and Business Partners and Orvia to established businesses across the county. Boost is Lancashire's Business Growth Hub and is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Teresa discovered the Boost website when looking for help to grow the business and applied for Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme.

After an initial discussion about Teresa’s needs, challenges and goals, Boost delivery partner Community and Business Partners identified Hamish Hamilton, a growth mentor with extensive knowledge of the Not-For-Profit sector, as the best person to support n-compass northwest.

Hamish Hamilton then worked with Teresa in six, two-hour one-to-one sessions over a four-month period. During the sessions Hamish helped Teresa to formulate a growth strategy for the period 2017-2020 that she could take to the board for discussion and sign-off.

Jaydee Davis at Community & Business Partners  said: “As a result, a strategy was adopted that was robust, appropriate and well-considered. The plan set out how the organisation would prepare for and create growth between 2017-2020 without jeopardising the quality of existing contract delivery.

“Often when people think of business support, they often don’t realise that this includes the Not-For-Profit sector when, in fact, we are ideally placed to help ambitious organisations to thrive and prosper.”

The programme also delivered significant social value outcomes for n-compass northwest, which has a strong social conscience. The charity employs local people and engages local suppliers to retain money and jobs in the regional economy. In addition, it supports up to 20 social work students every year, some of whom are taken on permanently.

n-compass northwest also supports more than 100 volunteers who last year gave the organisation over 7,000 hours of their time. In addition, staff vote each year on the charity they want n-compass to support and in 2018/19 it raised £4,200 in aid of Just Good Friends, to tackle loneliness and isolation in Lancashire.

Support for n-compass is ongoing and the charity has re-engaged Boost support, with Hamish now working with one the senior managers to develop leadership skills as the organisation continues to grow. 

Teresa said: “The Growth Mentoring programme was integral to our growth journey. Hamish was able to hold a mirror up that challenged and guided me, as well as the senior management team in the development of our growth strategy. Once adopted by the organisation, this led to genuine growth and success. I’m not sure we would be where we are now without that invaluable support and focus.”

Boost Business Lancashire has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information, visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.