Case Studies

Unlimited Potential

Unlimited Potential is a community benefit society based in Salford that specialises in social innovation for happiness and health. Unlimited Potential was the first organisation in northern England to gain the national Social Enterprise Mark, holds the Investors in People Standard, and has its own audited social accounts. It is rated on the SE100 Index in the national leader table for impact measurement. The Society won Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce's Innovation Award 2011. It was shortlisted for the national Social Enterprise Awards in 2011 and the Co-operative Awards 2010, and was Highly Commended in the National Association of Neighbourhood Management Awards 2009 for its Local Economy Award, for the most enterprising initiative to strengthen the local economy.

Membership of Unlimited Potential is open to all employees, all clients and anyone else who supports our social mission. Each member has one vote, and elects not only our non-executive Directors, but also an Advisory Council which exists to ensure a continual focus on maximising our social and environmental impact.

Unlimited Potential has increased its income over each of the past five years, and was rated as the second fastest growing social enterprise in health and care in the UK on the SE100 Index in 2009. Each year the proportion of our income from trading has increased, and this will reach 100% in April 2010. All surpluses are reinvested into the organisation towards social innovation for community benefit, as well as ensuring our financial stability.

Unlimited Potential operates as an independent social enterprise, ultimately controlled by its members. The contracts that it holds with customers, such as primary care trusts and local authorities, fully recognise and respect this. Unlimited Potential was the first organisation in northern England to be awarded the national Social Enterprise Mark, in 2009, when it was also shortlisted in the England section for Best Social Enterprise (operating for over three years, turnover of less than £1 million).

Shortlisted for the Co-operative Awards 2010, Unlimited Potential focuses on four key aspects:
• starting positively with the strengths and skills of people, rather than negatively with their needs
• aiming to achieve real outcomes through each of our services – that is, ensuring and providing evidence that they help people to improve their quality of life
• delivering added value – social, economic and environmental, which is demonstrated through having social accounts which are independently audited against our social accounting framework
• reinvesting any surplus in our organisation towards it social mission for community benefit

Our services, which mainly employ local people, are valued by our customers for engaging people that more mainstream services do not, and for being based on “thinking differently.”

Unlimited Potential provides opportunities for learning and development across our organisation. For example, Unlimited Potential undertakes a regular Board Skills Audit through the Co-operative College to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our Board. This is used to inform our board development plan. Every staff post in our organisation has the equivalent of 5% of salary allocated for learning and development, which includes not only job-related training, but also opportunities for wider personal development.

As a member of Co-operatives UK, Unlimited Potential hopes to promote wider awareness of the community benefit society model as a way to do better business for wider social benefit. It aims to work through not only Co-operatives UK, but also bodies such as the Social Enterprise Coalition (of which it is also a member) to work together with like-minded people at local, regional, national, and international levels to make the world a better place.

For more information, see www.unlimitedpotential.org.uk or contact Chris Dabbs, Chief Executive, on 0161 743 0088.