Our Social Enterprise Commitment
We are a dynamic, ethical social enterprise committed to giving back.
We invest in people, projects, research, and training. We go the extra mile, making a difference to the children we work with and the communities they grow up in. We measure our success by the positive impact we have on lives rather than the profit we make for shareholders.
Being a Social Enterprise means we can ‘think big’ and make meaningful contributions to the people, businesses, and broader network of children’s services around us. Carry on reading to find out more about how we’re making a difference.
- What this means for me as a foster carer
- What this means for me as a staff member
- What this means for me as a supplier
What does it mean to be a Social Enterprise?
“Social Enterprises demonstrate a better way to do business, one that prioritises benefit to people and planet and uses the majority of any profit to further their mission.”
Why is being a Social Enterprise important to Five Rivers?
A message from our Founder, Pam McConnell, about the origins and reasons for setting up as a social enterprise
We’ve always re-invested in services, even when social enterprises weren’t legal structures, because it’s the right thing to do.
Traumatised children need long-term solutions, and that is one of the reasons why I decided to make Five Rivers a social enterprise rather than a Charity. It’s far better to provide sustainable services and not just focus on immediate band-aid solutions.
Raising awareness of the challenges children in care face during their lifetime and putting the appropriate pressure on everyone to do better, work faster and achieve more for our children are the things that I hope will be my legacy. These are the things that are the hardest to achieve but are the most important for providing better outcomes for children in care.
Our reinvestments as a Social Enterprise
Being a Social Enterprise means that we commit to reinvesting at least 51% of our surplus back into services that turn children’s lives around. Here are some examples of how it makes a difference.
Investing in children’s futures
Five Rivers Futures
Five Rivers Futures supports young people leaving care as they transition to independence to ensure they have the same opportunities as other young people.
The programme is for Five Rivers care leavers aged 18-25 and includes:
- A volunteer-run befriending service.
- A financial grant scheme.
- Advice and information signposting.
- Employment advice.
- Advocacy support.
- Leaving care gift packages.
Our Futures scheme supports the transition to independence to ensure care leavers have the same opportunities as other young people, preventing the negative impact caused by the so-called ‘Care Cliff’.
We want to make sure that no care leaver feels lost or alone and can receive a helping hand when they need it.
Assessment & Therapy staff working with our children nationally
Our Assessment & Therapy team offer therapeutic care to our children, helping to improve outcomes related to emotional well-being and mental health. They also work directly with teams, training care givers and support staff to work together in a trauma informed way, so that they can achieve the best possible outcomes for our children. The Assessment & Therapy team help to embed a therapeutic workplace culture across the organisation, improving resilience in teams so that they can do important work with children.
Our Social Enterprise funding means we can invest in cutting-edge research. Our R&D team works with Universities and Charity partners to commission cutting-edge research, keeping us at the forefront of evidence-based children’s services. This research is shared via peer-reviewed research papers, which help to sector at large to improve the way they work with traumatised children.
Our research group consists of our Head of Assessment & Therapy, Referrals and Research Co-ordinator, and an Assistant Research Psychologist. We are also proud to collaborate with Dr Saul Hillman from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, and University College London (UCL).
Participation activities for our children
Our Participation Programme and dedicated team of 19 Participation Champions deliver a national programme of activities that are both fun and educational. The activities help our children explore issues that matter to them, helping to bring about positive change in how we (and others) care for them.
As well as setting up events, our participation team also work with the children to create useful handbooks to ensure any information they might need is accessible and easily understood.
Our Youth Council – making our children’s voices heard
Every fostering office has a Youth Council Representative who helps to gather children’s views to share with our teams and national Youth Council. Together with Youth Council reps, we look at key issues arising and decide what work we should focus on in the year ahead. The reps also make sure that children and families know what changes are going to be made and what projects will go ahead, so they can have a say too.
We also run quarterly ‘Make a Difference’ days. The idea is to hear first hand from children what’s good, what’s not so good and what they might like to see change.
We are committed to making sure our children’s voices are heard and that we are consistently asking our children to find out what we can do better. Here is a fantastic video made by our children that explains what it feels like to be in care and emphasises the importance of listening to children in care.
Supporting charities for children with care experience
In 2023, part of our Social Enterprise reinvestment, we donated to the charity Become, who work with 16+’s leaving care. The charity provides advice and support to care leavers and uses research to influence policy and practice.
Investing in people
Investors in People accreditation
Our staff, and the children we care for, are our highest priority. From foster carers and social workers to our central support staff – we want to help those who support and champion our children to be the best that they can be. That’s why we’ve been awarded a Gold accreditation by Investors in People (IIP). This accreditation shows that we create caring and supportive environment for our colleagues, recognising hard work and giving people clear career development plans for ongoing learning and growth.
We provide non-mandatory training to develop our workforce and foster carers. For example, in 2022 100% of eligible staff in residential care have been offered therapeutic care training (foundation level). In addition to this, our Assessment & Therapy team provide training in Attachment and Trauma Informed Care (ATIC model™) to our foster carers, educators and residential staff, embedding an organisation-wide model of care. This ensures that children experience the same culture of understanding and empathy no matter where they are in our organisation – whether they’re at school, with foster carers or at one of our residential homes.
Fans of Fostering
Fans of Fostering is a campaign to build a network of supporters to help shape a positive narrative about children in care, launched in 2020. This subscription-based campaign has gone from strength to strength. We now have 600 subscribers to our quarterly email newsletter, a space where we share positive news, sector updates, and highlight opportunities for people to support children in care.
Community and environment
We advocate for children in care
The way that the world views and talks about children in care is something we are very passionate about. Last year we launched our Fans of Fostering scheme, which encourages others to think well of children in care. We do this by communicating positive news, sector updates and highlighting opportunities to support children in care.
Our social compact
All our coworkers and suppliers are encouraged to sign our Social Compact, an agreement that promotes and offers meaningful work placements for care experienced people. Additionally, we encourage everyone to support their local communities and the environment by shopping whenever possible at small, independently owned stores.
Environmental Action Group
It was raised through our Youth Council some of our children are passionate about environmental issues and keen to learn more about how to care for the environment now and when they live independently. Staff from the Participation and Communications Teams came together to launch our first-ever Environmental Action Group. The group is there to provide informative and engaging activities to help children learn about our environment, with opportunities for children to participate throughout the year.
What this means for me as a foster carer
Our foster carers feel assured that they are working with an organisation that prioritises people above profit. This is because we believe that excessive profit has no place in children’s social care.
As a foster carer, it is important that both you and the child/children in your care are properly supported. Placement breakdown can be damaging for both child and foster carer, so to reduce the chance of this happening we provide 24 hour support from Fostering Support Workers. This role is funded by our social enterprise reinvestments.
In addition to this, our Assessment & Therapy team help to ensure our foster carers are confident and capable, so they can see themselves as the best form of intervention for their child. They provide psychological training so that carers can manage challenging behaviour. They are also on hand to deliver mental health support to children and foster carers when needed.
As a social enterprise, we offer specialist courses to help develop our foster carers, including non-mandatory training. Starting with Skills to Foster, our training has been organised in a way that is local and accessible.
Additional psychological training and therapeutic support is delivered to our font line staff by our Assessment & Therapy team. As part of this you will explore research into the impact of developmental trauma on children and young people, and how trauma manifests in behavioural presentation. The aim of this is to help you manage challenging behaviour so that you can develop a strong, positive relationship with the child in your care.
As a staff member
Our Gold accreditation by Investors in People (IIP) means that we provide a supportive environment for our colleagues, recognising hard work and giving people clear career development plans for ongoing learning and growth.
As an organisation we prioritise wellbeing. We ensure that employees have regular 1 to 1s with their managers so that any difficulties can be raised. Equally, our team of psychologists provide guidance, training and mental health support for staff in frontline roles. We also deliver weekly mindfulness/wellbeing tips and videos as part of our Assessment and Therapy newsletter.
We understand that starting a new role can be intimidating, so to help you settle in we offer comprehensive induction days. We also make sure you feel supported going forwards through regular 1 to 1s with your manager. All the training and equipment you will need for your role will be provided.
- Simply Health
All of our employees are automatically enrolled in the Simply Health Cash Plan, scheme which means they can claim back the cost of your everyday healthcare appointments. The membership also offers free, immediate access to a 24/7 GP telephone helpline. Dependents can also be added to your plan at no cost to you.
- Employee discount scheme
We are pleased to offer our valued employees access to a free online platform called Perkbox. The employee discount scheme gives our people exclusive discounts at a wide range of retailers and services.
- Employee assistance programme
We know how demanding our lives can be and that life isn’t always plain sailing, so we take great care in supporting and caring for our employees. This means we offer access to free, confidential, 24/7 counselling.
- Long service and recognition scheme
We appreciate the invaluable contribution our employees make, so we recognise and reward loyal service. Our recognition scheme provides additional holiday entitlement for length of service and financial recognition for ten years and above.
- Annual leave allowance
Our annual leave allowance increases with your length of service.
- Employee referral scheme
We know how important having the right workforce is and we’re confident your network includes professionals who could bring expertise and experience to our work. We offer our employees financial rewards if they refer someone who is successfully appointed a role at Five Rivers.
- Enhanced maternity policy
In addition to our maternity pay, mothers with a year’s service can choose to return to work on a part-time basis for three months, while being paid their previous full-time pay.
As a supplier
Our suppliers are encouraged to sign our Social Compact, an agreement that promotes and offers meaningful work placements for care experienced people. We also ask that they care for their communities and the environment.
As an organisation we aim to buy from local, independent retailers wherever possible. We ask our suppliers to do the same.