Supporting Gloucestershire Growth hub

Sharing experiences

Offering mentoring and encouragement

Sarah Sheasby started her first business with her husband at the age of twenty, so she knows some of the challenges that new business start-ups face. It is crucial to have the right support around you – people to share experiences with, mentoring and a big dose of encouragement!

Now a Senior Communications Manager at Lloyds Banking Group, Sarah was keen to stay involved in her local community and support fledgling social enterprises. She joined Lloyds Banking Group’s Business Connectors programme and was seconded from her day job for a year to put her business skills to use in the local community.

As part of the Group’s ambition to Help Britain Prosper, Lloyds Banking Group has committed to second up to 60 Business Connectors into some of the most deprived communities around the UK by the end of 2015. The Business Connector programme is a tangible demonstration of how we are committed to ”being the banking Group which brings communities closer together to help them thrive” with paid volunteering colleagues or funding supporting community projects and organisations.

I became involved with the Gloucestershire Growth Hub's small business mentoring scheme and saw potential to work with them on a specific project supporting social enterprise.

Sarah Sheasby, Business Connector, Lloyds Banking Group

The Gloucestershire Growth hub

Sarah wanted to put her own experience to good use and decided to volunteer at the Gloucestershire Growth Hub which supports all sizes and type of enterprise to grow and succeed. The Growth Hub opened in October 2014 and is a county-wide centre where entrepreneurs receive help to set up and grow their businesses.  The Hub has increasingly seen queries from social entrepreneurs who are establishing businesses with the objective of bringing positive benefit to local communities. Social enterprises can range from village shops run as co-operatives, to larger ventures such as Emmaus UK. 

The Growth Hub has seen an increase in queries from social entrepreneurs who wanted to understand how the Hub could meet their needs.

Sarah Sheasby, Business Connector, Lloyds Banking Group

Going for growth

Sarah worked with them to deliver a Christmas Market to support new and student-led enterprise. She also sought sponsorship from local businesses for an 'EnterpriseGarden', which will see the Hub's courtyard turned into a marketplace area with trading pods to allow social entrepreneurs and students to test their business concepts before moving to bigger premises.

Elaine Haines, Senior Enterprise Manager at the Gloucestershire Growth Hub said: “When Sarah and I met, I waxed lyrical about my ambitions for the Growth Hub outside space and she picked up my vision for bringing social entrepreneurship into the space and using it for the greater good. I wanted to explore whether it was possible, and just how hard is it, for large organisations to facilitate and support social enterprise activity.

Positive social impact

Sarah is most proud of the Social Impact Forum she established, which is the first network of its kind in the County, bringing together people who want to drive and champion responsible business practice – from the Cabinet Office to the City Council and local businesses. It enables social entrepreneurs to build partnerships and form collaborations. Getting it off the ground hasn't been an easy task  and  has involved working with and influencing a large number of senior stakeholders.

My aim has been to leave the Hub with a myriad of useful connections that support 'good' business to flourish.

Sarah Sheasby, Business Connector, Lloyds Banking Group

Positive social impact

Helping Communities Prosper

As part of the Group’s ambition to Help Britain Prosper, Lloyds Banking Group has committed to second up to 60 Business Connectors into some of the most deprived communities around the UK by the end of 2015.

As of January 2015, we’ve so far committed the equivalent of over 54 full time staff into local communities. As a result of these colleagues’ efforts, nearly 3,000 local organisations have been the recipients of support and over £3.3m worth of value has been leveraged for local communities. 

Sarah is such a great example of the sustained and significant difference which can be made in a local community through tenacity, determination and an obvious passion for helping others.   As one of the headline sponsors for the BITC Business Connectors programme, Lloyds Banking Group has been delighted to second 54 full time staff into some of the most deprived communities around the UK, who have, between them, then leveraged over £3m worth of value for community organisations and individuals. What a fantastic tangible demonstration of Helping Britain Prosper!

Paula Rogers – Business Connectors and Social Entrepreneurs Programme Lead