A share of the £18.7m National Lottery Community Fund – of which UnLtd distributed £6.3m – has allowed Yorkshire social enterprise, Offploy, to triple its commitment to supporting those with unspent convictions, an often-neglected group of candidates, into sustainable work across the UK.

The funding enabled Offploy to remobilise operations, bring back furloughed staff, and put the company on a secure financial footing. As a result, the recruitment specialist placed 65 candidates between September 20 and May 21.

Further investment in its tech stack helped to improve efficiencies across the organisation, and has seen Offploy provide 2,400 hours of additional support to some of society’s most vulnerable people during Q1 of 2021 – an increase from just under 700 hours on the same period in 2020.

Jacob Hill, founder of Offploy said: “Almost 12 months to the date that Offploy was forced to furlough all but one of its employees, we’re humbled to be able to say we’ve not only been able to bring our own colleagues back full-time, but we’ve helped 65 people find work, too.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of UnLtd, who helped not only to ‘keep the lights on’ during a difficult time but provided us with the funding needed to rebuild and deliver our service to those who need it the most – in a time where it is needed more than ever. I am pleased to say that, on top of the return of our team, we have since hired a further six colleagues, all with lived experience, to meet the demand for our service.”

Offploy was one of 600 social enterprises to qualify for the funding, out of over 1500 applications to the joint fund – which was distributed by UnLtd and partner organisations – designed to support firms through the challenges of the pandemic.

Mark Norbury, CEO of UnLtd, added: “In September 2020, research showed that a quarter of social enterprises in the UK only had cash flow to weather the next three months or less – and demand for their crucial services was going through the roof. Despite this perfect storm, Offploy and many others managed to deliver incredible essential services to the communities most affected by the pandemic.

“With our partners, we delivered the Social Enterprise Support Fund to help social entrepreneurs stabilise the future of their ventures and enable them to continue to deliver their crucial community services. The results Offploy has achieved with this funding are remarkable, and hopefully a marker of what an inclusive recovery could look like for the UK”.

The Social Enterprise Support Fund was established in partnership by The National Lottery Community Fund and five social enterprise support agencies – Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, Community Land & Finance CIC, the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and UnLtd – with support from CAF Venturesome, the Young Foundation and Ashoka.

Thanks to National Lottery players, £18.7 million of funding has been committed to the fund, providing grants to social enterprise organisations that are best placed to support local, vulnerable communities in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

With 66% of Offploy’s own workforce having experienced the criminal justice system first-hand, the social enterprise has been a part of the scheme since 2016.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.