Beyond Empower flies the nest and transfers from Unlimited Potential after five-years of incubation.
Here’s it’s story with Unlimited Potential.
Born and bred in Salford, we first encountered Ben as a volunteer with both the Being Well Salford service and Salford Disability Forum. Soon afterwards, he was successful in securing a job with Unlimited Potential as a Health Trainer at 21 years old.
The mission of Unlimited Potential is to make the world a happier and healthier place to live. By happiness, we mean enjoyment of a full and meaningful life. As a result, we place a strong emphasis on personal development of all our people, based on their signature strengths. We challenge people to think about what they really want to do with their life – not just their job or career.
Soon after Ben started with Unlimited Potential, we became aware of his passion for physical activity with disabled people, his knowledge of which had been greatly enhanced by his degree in Exercise and Health Sciences at the University of Salford. He showed creativity in developing his vision and goal-setting, and insight in dealing with opportunities and obstacles. We were impressed by Ben’s willingness to listen and the way he considered and applied advice.
Ben’s motivation was firmly rooted in his commitment to serve others. He already showed great passion and commitment to his idea: the concept of Empower Health had been in the making since 2010, when Ben was 17. Ben had dealt with knock-backs by re-evaluating and carrying on towards his vision.
As a result, Unlimited Potential felt that Ben was someone in whom it was worth investing particular time and effort, with the potential to make a real difference in a field in which many local people experienced significant exclusion and inequality.
Early on, Unlimited Potential supported Ben to test his concept at a small scale, including by allowing him to work part-time on his own project, while maintaining his ‘mainstream’ role with us on a part-time basis. As his project developed and attracted in new funding, we were able to support Ben to shift to working on Empower You full-time.
The project could therefore move from ‘proof of concept’ to ‘development’ stage, with a view to shifting from being a time-limited project to being a service. This meant that the evidence for the Empower You approach could be built up to the standard desired by mainstream commissioners, such as the NHS and local authorities.
Ben’s learning also shifted his perspective to focus not only on the development of Empower You as a service, but also on the wider factors that disable people living with learning, physical or sensory impairments. He started to engage in determinants of exclusion and inclusion, and on system change in fields such as leisure services and social care.
With our longstanding aim of the Empower You approach becoming mainstream, and separate from Unlimited Potential, we developed with Ben a long-term development plan both for him as an individual and for his organisation, which was eventually given the name Beyond Empower, later established as a social enterprise, in the form of a community interest company.
Ben followed this development plan, together with regular one-to-one reviews, and input from various external organisations, such as the School for Social Entrepreneurs. This has involved work to not only establish Empower You as a viable mainstream proposition, but also to develop Beyond Empower as a credible and robust organisation.
Amongst other things, this led to long-term mainstream contracts with both Trafford Council and Salford Clinical Commissioning Group for Empower You. Initially, these were set up with and held by Unlimited Potential, as it could give reassurance based on its longstanding history and track record.
In parallel, we created and ran a due diligence process to test Beyond Empower as an organisation. In essence, we tested how well it might meet the standard questions put to providers seeking to tender for a contract from a large statutory or private customer. Where there were weaknesses, we worked to address them until we felt confident about putting this due diligence checklist to the two existing commissioners of Empower You.
With the confidence of the commissioners, Unlimited Potential has then been able to work with them and Beyond Empower to the transfer of the service contracts from Unlimited Potential to Beyond Empower on 1 September, 2021. This was supported by the transfer of staff, finance for reserves, equipment, records, etc..
From there, Beyond Empower has now been able to ‘fly the nest’, and become independent of Unlimited Potential, but with a solid base and a track record from which to work.