Lattice Works Social Enterprise Development

Lattice Works was Shared Future’s multi-faceted approach to encouraging and developing social enterprises (SEs) within a specific area.

Woman at a community meeting, holding up a 'Building Vibrant Community' ideas sheet

Typically delivered over a 6-12 month period, and suitable for both brand new start-ups and established organisations considering, or wishing to extend, the SE model. We have been running Latticeworks for a number of years.

Types of support

Shared Future began as a social enterprise deigned to support other social enterprises, and our first large scale project was Lattice Works, which ran in Lancaster District. You can read our evaluation report, created from three years developing the Lattice Works concept.

Lattice Works is made up of several different types of support:

  • Seedlings: Support and signposting for new social enterprise start-ups.
  • SEED (Social Enterprise Encouragement and Development): One-to-one support for established social enterprises or those wishing to adopt a social enterprise model.
  • PIP (Participatory Investment Programme): Used to distribute small grants  to develop new services or products that can generate future income. The awards are decided in part by the local community using a form of Participatory Budgeting.
  • Thrive!: Group workshops for those new to the world of social enterprises.
  • Action Learning: Collaborative peer-to-peer leadership and strategic skills learning programme.
  • Crowdfunding: Using community platforms to leverage in additional funds for the programme.

Based on the learning from running Lattice Works in Lancaster we imagined a refined model of social enterprise support, which we have trialled through the UnLtd Lead the Change programme in three areas in the North West of England.

Our intention is to be able to deliver a tailored support programme anywhere, that potentially runs over a shorter period and with discrete elements that be added or removed. Making it a cost effective and bespoke way to enable community based enterprises develop, grow and adopt a more resilient business model, with the help of their peers. 

Is Lattice Works support still available?

Soc enterpise workshop image

Though we continue to support new social enterprises who approach us for advice we no longer have funding to provide the level of free support previously offered. We are currently seeking new ways to provide more free support.

  • Lancaster district: Between September 2011 and August 2016, with support from a range of funders including Unltd, we delivered the Latticework programme that supported the North Lancashire Social Enterprise Network.
  • Manchester: Launched in January 2015 services were centred around offering Seedling support in the South Manchester area. Budding social entrepreneurs could access support to help them develop their ideas. Though free support under Lead the Change has ended we continue to be happy to take inquiries, but the help we offer may be limited to signposting to other providers or very general email advice.
  • Southport and West Lancashire: Launched in January 2015 and running until August 2016 this support focussed on providing Seedling and Action Learning to new local social entrepreneurs.

We evaluated the outcomes from these Lead the Change programmes. We supported more than 60 projects with a social mission as part of this process and continue to seek new partners to fund the delivery of our tried and tested ‘Lattice Works’ programme – if you are interested in being a future partner, please see our social enterprise page for the type of work we can deliver and the results we’ve achieved.

We are also happy to quote for bespoke support for individual social enterprises looking to improve the way they work.

Could Lattice Works be delivered in our area?

social enterprise workshop

Lattice Works is a tested and highly effective model for public bodies to both support the growth of local social enterprises, and/or distribute grants. Its focus on peer support and development means that the community as a whole is strengthened through the intervention, rather than becoming reliant on a short-term initiative that then leaves a gap on completion.

At a time when public bodies no longer have the same resources to support community organisations as they did five years ago, Shared Future can use its delivery model and experience in this area to encourage new organisations to develop, help existing ones become more resilient, and ensure limited funds are distributed to those that will make best use of them – in an open and participative manner.

As Lattice Works has a number of component parts, support can be tailored to the needs of each area depending on budget, timescales, and existing infrastructure support.

The full report is available here.