Social Enterprise UK Awards 2018

The shortlist for the UK Social Enterprise Awards has been announced- and we are on it! One of five organisations shortlisted for the Health and Social Care Social Enterprise 2018. So much has happened in the last 12 months it is time to celebrate.

So why did we apply?

Designs in Mind is a working studio and shop transforming what a mental health service looks and feels like. We are part of everyday life on the high street in a small market town in a rural county. What we do is our mission and our purpose. ALL income is invested in our work. This year the collective action of so many has meant we have achieved so much.

1. Tell us about the organisation you are nominating and its business activities.

Designs in Mind is a working studio and shop transforming what a mental health service looks and feels like. We are part of everyday life on the high street in a small market town in a rural county.

What we do is our mission and our purpose and ALL income is invested in our work.


  • Referral through mental health teams or the mental health hospital

  • GP referrals

  • Come in to our shop



  • Learn the skills needed to participate

  • Making

  • Design

  • Produce high quality, ambitious and experimental products for retail and commissioned artwork

  • Make friends

  • Work with purpose

  • Be creatively challenged

  • Be part of a team

  • Peer support and 1:1 support

  • At the right time , listen and act

  • Strong working relationships with specialist partners

JOLT- Retail Brand

  • Shop on the high street

  • New roles created from studio to shop

  • Active and provocative in local community

  • Selling our products and designs to trade

  • Creating a high profile platform - with a national network of retail partners


  • Together we are finding ways to live life

  • Challenging mental health stigma

  • Making individual ambitions a reality

  • Generating income from the studio and shop

  • Enabling our members to contribute to our sustainability and be directly involved in decision making.

Our income streams are diverse now 40% from a contract with the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, 30% from commissions and retail and finally 30% from non trading income both public and private.

2. Summarise the social or environmental purpose of the social enterprise

The Challenge

‘‘The preparation needed to start talking about mental illness is like preparing for a small battle."

  • When people ask for help they need to know it will be there

  • Most mental health services focus on people in isolation and it’s time limited

  • Stigma is often a bigger burden than the illness itself, finding a way back in to life is hard

At Designs in Mind we are different.

M’s Story:

A commission for 3 awards came in. M, sourced materials and equipment and set to work experimenting. Within a week he had produced the finished wooden blocks and we were all stunned.

At this time M was living in his shed at the bottom of his garden. Struggling in an abusive relationship and depressed, he would come in talking very negatively, suicidal and anxious. But, he would come in.

Designs in Mind is a place where M feels safe, what he comes here for is to know he is worth something and that makes everything else possible.

  • 96% have made friends

  • 88% have a sense of purpose

  • 92% feel their confidence increases

  • 72% are more active in the local community

  • 65% are involved in planning and decision making

  • 52% have a sense of aspiration for the future

‘I was really nervous to be speaking to customers. I sat in the back and came forward when I wanted to peep in to conversations. I get the bus in now, especially to volunteer, even when it is not my day!'

3. Category-specific Information- Health and Social Care

Vision: Open to everyone and together we find ways to live life and challenge mental health stigma.

‘I'd be living in hospital if I didn’t come here once or twice a week’

Mission: High quality, ambitious, experimental art and design work and support to make independent ambition a reality. We are proactive at creating pathways in to decision making across all areas of the business.

‘Being here has helped me remember what it felt like to be challenged,

have deadlines, collaborate with others’

25 years ago we were founded within NHS day services, those relationships are still strong. Today we're independent, have 2 studios and a very bright, bold, visible shop- JOLT- on the high street, part of everyday. We have an increasing membership from 54 in 2016 to 98 in 2018 with more diverse referral pathways, including opening for self-referral one evening a week.

‘Passing time as a purpose that really, really upset me... that is not what we want to be doing,

we want to use time.’

‘Being at Designs in Mind is a sign that I am valued and of value'

We have to be both nurturing and commercial in equal balance to make sense. Our organisational structure ensures that the diverse perspectives needed to make decisions are considered.

CEO Executive Group Co Teams Members Days

CEO: To develop the culture internally and externally in which we can thrive.

Executive Group: Constitutionally members have the ‘majority voice’.

Co-Teams: Covering all areas of the business, these are led by a core member of staff and include people from across the team.

Members days are held with no staff present. Issues are passed to the Executive. At meetings members have continuously scored the benefits of being part of the team 9 out of 10.

With strong diverse income streams we are starting the financial year 2018 with the right support in place to form a cover core costs. From here our earned income can grow.

4. Tell us wat the organisation has achieved in the last 12 months

  • We helped establish a new mental health hub. We now have strong relationships with Shropshire CCG, Samaritans, Shropshire Mind, SIAS, Enable and Confide Counselling to develop a non-medical pathway for Shropshire.

  • We opened the studio full time (Previously 3 days a week)

  • We opened a shop, for retail and events adjacent to the studio, with a strong brand JOLT that is stimulating the local community and attracting national attention

  • We have proved the artistic quality of our work and the potential of how we are growing our retail. At a recent Trade Show event we were approached by Heals, The Southbank and The V&A about future partnerships and we have 7 stockists across the UK.

  • In 2016-2017 we were commissioned to make awards for the SEUK. In 2017-2018 this led to award commissions from Wilmott Dixon, The Big Society Capital, Social Enterprise Mark, SEUK and our largest award commission of 56 for Northumbrian Water.

  • We launched a Crowdfunding campaign #SmashingStigma that has not only generated vital income to pay for the lease of our shop, we now have a team of 56 ambassadors and generated a powerful conversation on social media.

  • We have strengthened the staff team increasing the expertise across artists, designers, retail management, social support, systems development, financial planning, and business growth. Our staff team is growing from 5 P/T to 6 F/T and 5 P/T in 2018. Our volunteer team has grown from 10 to 35.

We deserve to be recognised as the best in our field because this year the collective action of so many has meant we have achieved so much. We really are transforming what a mental health service looks and feels like, we are on a journey and this key change moment should be celebrated.

Come and join us on the 16th of October from 4.00pm- 6.00pm at Carriages in Oswestry. Find out more here and book your tickets.

#OurStory #SocialEnterprise #MentalHealth #Shropshire

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