Happy New Year 2022, are you starting the year considering all the wonderful things you want to do this Year to live better and improve your wellbeing? Or are you considering how you might help others in your local community through the coming year?
I wanted to share with you why shopping with a local social enterprise might be on your list for 2022! You can buy local whilst also supporting causes you care about as well!
Have you ever wondered what the “CIC” in Espression Arts CIC stands for? It stands for Community Interest Company and makes us a local social enterprise here in Kent. A social enterprise uses the money you spend with them as an individual or an organisation, buying either services or products, to create a positive impact, on the local community we live in.
When you buy from a social enterprise you are choosing to spend your money with a business that is giving something back to the local people. They are reinvesting their profits to address local issues, from helping disadvantaged communities, addressing food poverty, providing activities and experiences for families, children, or the environment and climate change.
Espression Arts CIC has developed kits, creative workshops, and experiences for everyone to buy here in Kent. We have f 13 years of delivery experience in the Decorative Pottery Painting industry and 15 more years facilitating creative community projects in London and Kent. We use a combined income generated from sales and supporting applications for funding to charitable trusts; to deliver arts and wellbeing workshops to disadvantaged groups in our local community free of charge.
We have put together the 5 reasons why shopping with a Local Social Enterprise should make you feel great as we begin 2022!
1 - It’s all about the local community When you spend your money locally on a small enterprise, your money boosts the economy locally where you live, you are supporting the community where you live. This is so important in post-pandemic times. Money spent in a small local social enterprise makes a huge difference to people’s lives, almost like giving a donation but getting something lovely and useful at the end of it.
When you buy something creative from Espression Arts this helps with your personal wellbeing, gets your creative juices going, it's amazing for your mind and self but in turn, our financial profits made help us to offer the power of creativity to others via workshops in Canterbury District, Herne Bay, Whitstable, and Thanet. We can also be found delivering workshops into Sheppey, Dover, Deal, and Hythe supporting other wellbeing projects and projects focusing on mental health in the communities. Profits from your purchase subsidises (or makes completely free) creative workshops to our local disadvantaged participants and funds the training of more creative volunteers in our key areas for delivery.
If you spend money on an Espression Arts Kit or buy a celebration, birthday party, or your organisation books a set of team-building workshops you can ask about the projects you are helping with your investment, you could even set up a visit for yourself of your staff team.
It’s a good feeling knowing exactly where your funds are going and what good they are doing!
"I ordered two at home tealight character kits for my best friend and her boyfriend's anniversary as going to Espression Arts Café was one of their first dates together. They thoroughly enjoyed painting these at home together"
2 - Customer Service, exceeds expectations Small creative social enterprise projects and independent businesses have a level of character and personal care, not found in bigger stores. Espression Arts like to get to know our customers and like to build up a rapport with them resulting in many customers coming back time after time.
We do this through events, meetings, conversations with our clients, creating opportunities for people to get to know what we are really, about and who we are. We go over and above expectations for each of our customers to get the level of service we hope everyone enjoys. You really get to know the staff, volunteers, and key characters involved in putting projects together which is more personal than shopping in bigger stores.
We are expanding our commercial team this year to keep up this level of customer service and standard and meet customer demands, lookout in the future for more workshops, pop-up shops, and seasonal opportunities to get creative for a great cause!
"We have had the home kits for both Halloween and Christmas and my kids (9 and 2) loved them. Helped keep them entertained on wet afternoons with most things closed. Great service from Catherine as well, picking up and dropping off finished pieces!"
3 - Invest back into your local community. Local small business owners have roots in the community, just like the customers they sell to, and the participants of our community projects who benefit from our arts and wellbeing work.
Until the pandemic, Espression Arts had a shop on the high street from which we ran great projects. Our community could pop in anytime, the kettle was always on, we had our ear to the ground and could react to changes, needs and inquiries. Local social enterprise business owners tend to make decisions with their community in mind especially when it comes to developing services, products or deciding on what projects or workshops to lead with, in their strategy from year to year.
Espression Arts refers to its community as a family and have a monthly meeting of its volunteers who help to steer the project direction, being mobile we can now reach more people and be more responsive to communities in different areas. These meetings were a lifesaver for some during the lockdown. Over the past 15 years we have got to know the clients well, their families, and the needs of the individuals we want to help. We also know what impact our creative project delivery could have on a community or a group of people and the benefits being actively creative can offer.
Every penny of profit made will be given to improving the lives of local people and strengthening Espression Arts CIC to deliver. 4 - Local jobs for local people Profits from sales are invested back into our projects which have helped us sustain work we want to deliver, without reliance on grant applications. Keeping alive projects we care about., working more with communities who need longer interventions to gain the benefits. We hope that by looking at some amazing local social enterprises for inspiration we will grow more and more self-sufficient as time goes on.
Espression Arts have created 4 part-time jobs over the past year as we expand into new communities and build our commercial offers. We are proud to employ local people mostly from our volunteer team pool and from the communities in our delivery areas.
Whilst delivering projects we also buy (where possible) from locally owned businesses keeping other small businesses going. We support local printers, shops, local community venues for room hire, refreshments for our groups, other services, gifts, and cards, every penny spent helps them to survive post-pandemic and helps our community to thrive.
5 - Community Involvement for all Espression Arts have a group of trained and supported older volunteers who help with the delivery of projects to our more vulnerable older communities as well as the packing of kits, planning activities and attending meetings alongside the creative lead. This extra volunteer support enables everyone to access the experience on offer.
In 2021 we delivered to 27 different groups ranging from one-off events or experiences and bigger programs of 18 weekly workshops. We worked with over 850 individuals last year on supported projects. We deliver for people living with dementia, older people including veterans, and carers for people with life-changing conditions. We work with families and children even babies.
We believe in the power of creativity to connect people and make a difference in building communities! If you would like to volunteer to help connect your community using creativity, get in touch - Become a Volunteer here!
Thank you for reading 5 Reasons for you to shop from a Local Social Enterprise in 2022
I hope you now know how being a community interest company helps Espression Arts CIC deliver Arts and Wellbeing workshops to disadvantaged groups and participants in Kent and how every penny you spend with us helps keep your community connected via creativity. If you would like to take a look at our shop online follow the link here.
If you would like to find out more about Espression Arts CIC you can link through to our About Us page
If you would like to find out more about the benefits of Arts and Wellbeing on communities and participants please link to our blog for more reading here.
If you have more questions contact Espression Arts Director Catherine@espression.co.uk