Success as a Social Enterprise

Success as a Social Enterprise

Leaders who Build Businesses that Change Lives

LEXXER Solutions attended a presentation and launch at the Banqueting Hall at Belfast City Hall

Many of our clients are interested in:

  • Starting, or thinking of starting, a social business.
  • Supporting a social business (as a consultant or board member)
  • Encouraging entrepreneurial activity within their community/network

Therefore we felt it was useful to attend today to learn more. The speaks were both inspirational and informative with a clear message that social enterprise doesn’t mean being soft on professional commitment to excellence.

Josh Babarinde, Founder of Cracked It

Josh is Founder and Chief Executive of Cracked It, London’s award-winning social enterprise smartphone repair service, staffed by young ex-offenders. Cracked It runs pop-up workplace repair clinics in organisations including the US Embassy, Ministry of Justice, Barclays and River Island. In 2019, Cracked It was named Social Enterprise of the Year by the Evening Standard and also by the Centre for Social Justice. Josh himself was named in the Forbes ’30 Under 30 in Europe’ Class of 2019. He shared the Cracked It story, the lessons that he has learned along the way and his view on the opportunities that exist within social business.

Then a local social enterprise story with a big heart and an even bigger vision.

Dave Linton, Founder of Madlug

In 2015 Dave learned that most children in care transport their worldly belongings in a bin bag and he set out to do something about it. With £480 and zero business experience he started Madlug (Make a Difference Luggage) with a mission to help every child in care travel with dignity. In 2016 Dave was listed as one of the 50 New Radicals by The Guardian and, following a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2017, he was invited to brunch with Sir Richard Branson! Madlug is gaining traction across the UK & Ireland and Dave is passionate about using Madlug to influence a new young generation of social entrepreneurs. He shared the Madlug story and the business insights that have helped him build the brand and grow an award-winning social business. 

The event was chaired by Professor Ken O’Neill brings bringing the academic know how to the mix.

Professor Emeritus Ken O’Neill, Ulster University 

Ken is Chair of the School for Social Enterprises in Ireland – the only organisation devoted exclusively to the development of leadership and management in the social economy on this island. He has also served as President of the International Council for Small Business and Chairman of Young Enterprise in NI. His most recent books are entitled ‘Understanding Enterprise, Entrepreneurs & Small Business’ and ‘Understanding the Social Economy’ (co-authored with Simon Bridge and Brendan Murtagh respectively). Ken will chair the event and share his own insights on opportunities within social business.

The event also marked the official launch of Belfast City Council’s new Social Enterprise and Cooperative Support Programme delivered by Work West Enterprise Agency.

Again with funding and support, access to a world class academic programme and with the inspiration and ideas from existing social entrepreneurs we are armed with a full package of support and information for our clients.

Our business is charity and that means taking charities into the world of knowledge through exchange programmes.

Let the knowledge we have gathered today help you tomorrow – speak to one of the team today!

Simple and Stylish

Simple and Stylish

Every brand, however big or small, should have a set of cohesive brand guidelines to maintain its identity. Your brand is the face of your business; it projects your identity and defines how your clients and prospects view your business. Shouldn’t you value having a guide to place in the hands of every person who touches your brand? The answer is yes. This is extremely valuable to your company and its reputation.

What is a Brand Style Guide?

A brand style guide—or “brand guidelines”—is the primary visual of your company’s branding. Your brand’s visual identity includes your logo, tagline, color scheme, typography and graphics. A strong style guide can range anywhere from 5-500 pages. This document lays out how the brand should be portrayed, however formal or informal. It defines and presents examples of what your brand looks like in various visual media such as print and web. It lists the “rules” of consistency so a company knows how to use their new branding files correctly and successfully.

This is a handbook for how to properly express your brand: where and how to use the logo, colors, fonts and just as importantly, how NOT to use them, in order to consistently communicate the message.

brand style guide book

Keep it Clear and Consistent

Once you have a brand style guide, it is imperative that you keep it up-to-date and in the hands of everyone who touches your brand. In most companies, several people and departments will have their hands on the brand before content is delivered to the public. To assure your brand remains consistent across all channels, everyone within your company should adhere to the same guidelines when creating and designing all marketing collateral. A well-documented brand style guide will tether all who touch your brand together. This gives your clients and prospective customers a cohesive experience and a unified marketing message.

Without a unifying guide, your branding may appear inconsistent and incorrect across different channels. We’ve seen it all too often; the colors of a company’s logo get changed and suddenly you see a new shade of bright purple being brought in and makes the logo look unprofessional and inconsistent with other branding. This results in mixed marketing messages that confuses your followers. It could also negatively impact the perception your company gives to prospects. You don’t want the brand you’ve poured your sweat and tears into to become diluted in the eyes of your target audience.

Brand Style Guide Essentials

Here are a few examples of some key elements you should include in your brand style guide:

Logo variations

Many brands have a primary logo as well as alternative logos to give them versatility. When designing for clients, we focus on designing a primary logo to be used for most applications (website, business cards, and other important materials). The alternative logos are for other applications where the primary logo will not fit. It’s important to outline how and when each logo variation should be used to maintain professionalism and consistency throughout your brand. Consider these questions:

  • Will the logo appear the same for both web and print?
  • What will the logo look like on a white background? A colored background? A photo background?
  • How much space needs to be left around the logo?


Many businesses and blogs are all over the place with their font choices. This makes their website overwhelming and unprofessional. In order to cut down on confusion and create consistency on both web and print materials, consider these questions:

  • What is your body font for web? For print? What are the sizes for each?
  • What is your header font for web? For print? What are the sizes for each?
  • Are there specific character styles (like all caps) for any of your fonts or text styles?

Designer note: We usually recommend no more than 2-4 font choices per brand, to keep things simple, professional, and streamlined.

brand style guide typography


To streamline your colors and ensure they are the same tint and shade across all platforms, think through the following questions:

  • What are your primary brand colors? What are they used for?
  • How about your secondary brand colors? What are they used for?
  • What are the values for each color? (This makes it easy to assemble your colors and also provides a quick reference)
  • What color is your body text? What color are your headers?

brand style guide color palette

Does your company need any assistance in building a brand style guide? You may have a company brand or even just a logo, but need help building your style guide. Or perhaps you haven’t budgeted for that yet? Well come and speak to us today and find out what we can do for you today.

Heritage Services

Heritage Services

In recent months much of our case work has involved heritage projects, from interpretative and cultural tourism programmes to capital build and conservation projects. We have assembled multi-disciplinary teams using our bespoke knowledge brokerage model and provided skills services and solutions to a range of clients from commercial property developers to community and cultural groups.

We have just completed a Conditional Survey and Conservation Report for a client who wish to engage in a capital improvements programme for a signature building they own and manage.

It has been commissioned by by the owner of the subject property, in connection with a funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for capital works to restore, renovate and refit the building as well as addressing conservation and inclusive access issues.

The report was prepared on the basis of a visual walk-through inspection of the premises and a desk top study and analysis of the organisation’s proposals drawings and documents. Wider development plans were supported by the visual inspection of the premises as evidenced by the appended photographic survey and form the basis of this assessment. It is a preliminary report, and will identify issues of conservation concern and give independent verification of the owner’s own assessment of the condition of the building and the conservation work needed.

The next stage is to take this foundational work and where any issues arise which require specialist heritage survey a qualified consultant will be retained to complete this and provide their opinion.

Don’t Miss the Deadline!

Don’t Miss the Deadline!

Don’t forget the Deadline for Charity Commission returns. It is the worst time of the year for many charities but help is at hand. The Charity Commission has updated its guidance on how to complete the annual monitoring return with helpful screenshots of the online return.

The Charity Commission has identified that October and January are two peak periods in which charities must submit their annual monitoring return to the charity register. If your registered charity’s financial year is 1 April – 31 March then you will have a deadline of 31 January.

All registered charities must submit their examined annual accounts and trustees’ report along with the annual monitoring return within 10 months after their full financial year after charity registration. If you haven’t received notification from the Commission that your accounts are due then please log in to the charity register to make sure that the ‘contact email for Commission use’ is correct. Please note that the publicly available email on the charity register may be different, so you need to log in to ‘Online services’ to check this.

If your charity is due to submit the annual monitoring return, please don’t leave it to the last minute as you may not have all the information to hand that you need to submit. Please note that if you file your return after the due date, a notice stating that the documents were received late will be marked in red on the public register and will stay there until the following year, even if you’re one day late.

The Commission has identified that common errors in previous returns to the charity register have included: accounts not being audited or independently examined; auditor’s/examiner’s report not included; trustees’ report not submitted; or the accounts not properly prepared. For example, accrual accounts must comply with the Charities SORP and receipts and payments accounts must include a ‘Statement of assets and liabilities’, even if the charity does not have any property.

Please see the Commission’s guidance on completing the annual monitoring return to ensure you have all the right information, or indeed if you have already submitted your return, check it to make sure it is complete. It is available along with the Commission’s other guidance on accounts and annual reporting below:

If you have any queries regarding the accounting and reporting requirements please don’t hesitate to contact the LEXXER Team who will provide an accounts completion and check service, along with a submission service to make sure you get your returns in on time.

War and all that Follows

War and all that Follows

Thinking of those who served in the Armed Forces and the nation’s covenant with them. Making good on that national commitment.

A recent Christmas present, the biography of Jason Fox entitled ‘Battle Scars’ set me thinking about debt owed to those who served their country. While the headlines of Iraq and Afghanistan play large in the media, we know little of these men and women’s battles after they return home.

The Title says it all
Jason Fox speaking at a local book launch

The memoir by Jason Fox, an ex-special forces soldier and frontman of Channel 4’s hit show “SAS: Who Dares Wins”, is a powerful insight into not just the guts and glory but also the pain and permanent scars of war.

Indeed that title Battle Scars, says it all as Fox not only gives exciting accounts of the operations that defined his military service but honestly discusses the the psychological impact of modern combat.

Fox’s memoir has been described as both “adrenaline-fuelled” and “an important story” for its exploration of mental health in the armed forces. After a military career spanning 20 years, including 10 years as a Royal Marine Commando and 10 years in the Special Boat Service, Fox was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012. A year later found himself standing on a cliff-edge in Devon contemplating suicide.

Fox called the book “the story of my rise, my fall and my recovery”. “It deals in the truths about men, the military and mental health, and tells the story of my career in the Special Forces, and what happened to me once I’d trained and served as an elite operator only to lose it all.”

Helping Heroes

While working as a lobbyist at Westminster one of my biggest battles and greatest victories was in helping to secure the passage of the legislation which underpinned the Armed Forces Covenant. The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the Government and the Armed Forces. It was published in May 2011 and its core principles were enshrined in law, for the first time, in the Armed Forces Act 2011. It applies to all three services.

The Covenant articulates the view that the nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces Community in return for the sacrifices they make. Specifically, the Covenant outlines two core principles:

  • No disadvantage: no current or former member of the armed forces, or their families, should be at a disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.
  • Special consideration: special consideration is appropriate in some cases, particularly for those who have been injured or bereaved.

The Armed Forces Act 2011 does not create legally enforceable rights for Service personnel but it does require the Secretary of State for Defence to report to Parliament each year on the progress made with respect to the Covenant. In that regard it is much like the ongoing personal battles of ex-servicemen with a continual struggle away from the headlines to ensure success. The Covenant offers real help and support to many who are still living with the mental and physical scars of war. The annual report to Parliament ensures that a regular check is made against performance. The real need however is to embed the Covenant and its ethos into local life in communities and Councils. This is part of the normalisation which is required after years of conflict, where the armed forces are seen as p[art of the community, a viable career option for young people and a source of pride for all. We may differ on our views of war, its necessity and its conduct, however we should all be able to agree that when there has been a national decision to engage in conflict those we send to fulfil that wish should be looked after in the theatre of conflict and upon their return.

Defending Those Who Defended Us

At LEXXER Solutions we provide support for a number of ex-services charities and personnel at a local level. It is our aim this year to help at least three charities to access the funding attached to the Covenant, and through three projects to I’m prove the lives of veterans. We will also work to ensure that the Covenant is fully and properly implemented in Northern Ireland.

Our first successful project funded by the Armed Forces Covenant funding was back in 2016 where we worked with a number of local community groups to integrate the ex-service community into a wider community festival. We also helped with research and wider heritage programming to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme linking groups like the Royal British Legion, and Help for Heroes with a range of local community and cultural groups.

Armed Forces Day saw the service and ex-service community honoured and integrated into the community, in a local festival and historic series of events.

The project was educational, commemorative and a celebration of the contribution of the Armed forces. Our skills in the study and presentation of often contested heritage and history allowed us to work with Mid and East Antrim Council to present a programme of activities over three weeks which respected the sensitivities of the Troubles and allowed still divided communities to come together and celebrate a shared military tradition.

Practical Help through Projects

Each year LEXXER Solutions offers pro bono support ( a fancy American term for free help and support) to a number of chosen charities. We would like to prioritise ex-service charities or those working to help this sector. So come and speak to one of the team today if you have a project idea or a need that has to be met. The first point of contact will be the grants offered by the Armed Forces Covenant.

Under the Armed Forces Covenant Local Grants programme, grants of up to £20,000 are made for local projects that support community integration or local delivery of services.

Community Integration projects should create strong local links between the Armed Forces community, who are  current and former members of their armed forces and their families) and civilian communities; and be able to clearly demonstrate how they will have impact in overcoming barriers to better integration; and improving perceptions, attitudes and understanding. For the project to be truly effective in achieving community integration there should be shared development, delivery and benefits for both communities.

Delivery of Local Services projectsshould be local projects which offer financial advice, housing, mental and physical health, employability or social support for serving armed forces personnel, veterans, and their families. Projects must be well connected, both to their beneficiaries and to other relevant organisations, and be able to demonstrate how the services they provide will be well-publicised, accessible and joined up.

You can only apply for a grant online, and you should read the Local Grants Guidance carefully. You can also read the application questions before you access the online form to get an idea of the information you you will need to provide.

Then come and speak to one of the LEXXER Team and we can guide you through the application process and ensure that you make the best case possible for your idea. This is needed to help others understand why there is a need for your project and how it fits with the programme aims.

You can read about past projects that we have awarded funding to so far. Your idea might not be something that we have funded previously. You can also read our terms and conditions of grant for the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Local Grants programme so that you can see what you will have to agree to if you are awarded a grant.

We are here to help and we would like to focus on practical projects which offer real help to ex-service personal especially with mental health issues. Our experience in working with victims of the Troubles have also given us a number of ideas which work, so if you know there is a need but just haven’t got the solution then that’s where we come in.

Helping You Get AHEAD

Helping You Get AHEAD

Our AHEAD Programme will use the past to build a better future, as we facilitate discussions about the past, using Applied Heritage to learn and to find a common understanding which will promote reconciliation.

For too long the past has meant division and difficulty, our vision is to tackle the difficult issues and to turn heritage to our advantage. The AHEAD Programme has been pioneered by LEXXER Solutions after a number of years working in the heritage sector on a range of Council, PEACE, Heritage Lottery Fund and Community Relations funded projects.

Our programme helps groups to develop local history and heritage as an asset, both in terms of cultural tourism and also in support of improving community relations. From consultancy services to accredited courses based around a facilitated workshops training programme it is designed to meet the PEACE IV emphasis on Building Good Relations. For this we propose to use the Applied Heritage model which has been developed to use heritage to transform society. 

The units involved include a contextual course based on a comparative study of the past with the present using the latter as a lens through which to not simply study but also experience the former. The second unit would be based around Applied Heritage Methods and their use in Reconciliation, with the course aimed at both training those who would be identified as leaders and peace makers in their communities in the broader skills and also giving them experience of the course as it might be deployed in a community setting at a lower OCN level.

Speak to one of the Team today to see how we can help You Get AHEAD

Check out our AHEAD Brouchure. thumbnail of AHEAD flyer

AIMing to Suceed
DRAW Your Own Conclusions

DRAW Your Own Conclusions

The DRAW service offered by LEXXER Soliutions is designed to help your draw our new ideas and draw your own conclusions resulting in well designed new projects, which will gain funding and actually work in real life.

The aim is to help clients turn their vision into a funded reality and to move from dream through the design phase to actual delivery. Our knowledge brokerage approach provides the skills, services and support to make this happen.

The DRAW Programme works with clients to



graphs job laptop papers
Photo by Lukas on

The  service will help with the often daunting task of project design and grant application writing.

We work with clients to help them develop their won ideas, to work out whicj solution best fits the problem they seek to solve.

Our research services help cleints measure need and demand and present a coherent case which funders will understand. The aim of our team is to help yopu ‘Draw Your Own Conclusions’, not to force one size fits all solitions or project ideas onto you.

Funders quite rightly do not like to see the heavy hand of a consultant at this stage. The logic is clear and we would be the first to support them in saying that is a group is not able to state their own case, or write their own application then doubt shoudl be cast about their ability down the line to run and sucesfully manage that project.

That is why we work with groups to help them form theor own ideas and develop their own initiatives. We use our expereince and knowledge to advise and articulate what the cleint has concluded. However the concepts are very much home grown and reflect the wishes of the client.

To find out more download our brochure Today  Draw