Four social businesses from across the North West have each successfully secured up to £50,000 of capital funding to expand and develop. Liverpool’s Genie In The Gutter, Stoke-based Home Services Support CIC, Cheadle’s Hospice Quality Partnership and Wigan-based EPIC Problem Gambling Consultancy have all received initial investments from Big Issue Invest’s Corporate Social Venturing Programme, which is supported and part-funded by the First Ark Group. A total of 12 organisations across the UK were awarded the funding after a rigorous application process which culminated in presentations to an investment panel made up of partners and business leaders who support the programme. Mentored and supported through the application process by fellow North West-based First Ark, Genie In The Gutter offers creative opportunities and training to active substance misusers and people with mental health issues, providing artistic and recovery classes in a safe and supportive environment. Based in Liverpool city centre, the organisation has seen a huge increase in demand for its services and will use the £50,000 investment to develop its Recovery Rises programme. Recovery Rises, which raises awareness of recovery from addiction, is the UK’s first online magazine to be produced by service users though a digital inclusion recovery programme. Genie In The Gutter hopes to develop Recovery Rises into a financially reliant trading arm of the business and make Genie In The Gutter a registered charity. Home Services Support CIC, also mentored through the application process by First Ark, offers people practical support in their own home allowing them to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. A team of home support workers assist customers with day-to-day tasks such as cleaning, preparing meals, shopping, helping residents travel to medical appointments, laundry and accessing social opportunities. The social business will invest its loan into developing a bespoke staff training programme, as well as recruiting another team member to support with growth and development. Bob Taylor, CEO of First Ark Group, commented: “The standard of applications this year was outstanding; these are social businesses which are driven to success by a determination to positively impact the lives of those who are most vulnerable and marginalised in society and the ambition of each organisation is overwhelmingly evident. It’s also very clear to see just how far £50,000 will go in helping each to generate even more impact for the communities in which these businesses operate. “The team at Genie In The Gutter has worked tirelessly to turn their ideas into a reality, and when First Ark visited the centre during the mentoring process, it was clear to see the creativity, originality and value the business brings to our city: the team should be extremely proud. “Across all four winning north west social businesses, it’s been fantastic to witness the level of innovation being generated, and I’m pleased that the First Ark Group has been instrumental in helping to attract this level of funding to the region too.” As a social impact business, the First Ark Group actively supports growing, sustainable social businesses that improve the lives of the communities in which they work. Following this successful support programme, First Ark is planning further investment in the social economy, encouraging growth in the North West in particular. For more information about the First Ark Group, visit www.firstark.com.