A provider of community transport services is the latest organisation to benefit from a loan scheme designed to support the growth of social enterprises and charities across the UK.
HCT Group is one of the largest social enterprises in the UK, providing individuals disadvantaged by age, sickness, disability or poverty, with access to appropriate transport which allows them the opportunities and sense of inclusion afforded to others.
Its latest funding round of £10m is the largest growth capital investment in the UK impact investing sector and brought together funds from a range of social and mainstream investors, including £750,000 from the FSE Social Impact Accelerator (SIA). The SIA scheme, which is managed by The FSE Group, provides loan finance of up to £1million for activities that will enable accelerated growth of charities and social enterprises and in turn, have an enhanced impact upon the individuals and communities they work with.
Uniquely in the transport sector, HCT operates a large and successful commercial division to fund its social mission. By successfully growing and delivering commercial contracts across the UK, including some of London’s Red Bus routes as well as services in the Channel Islands and a Park and Ride facility in Bristol, the company has been able to build an impressive repertoire of socially driven amenities.
These include subsidising a range of much needed transport schemes, such as community minibuses, school transport for children with special educational needs, day centre transport for the elderly and disabled and ‘Route 812’, a unique hail and ride service in Islington, which was developed by the community to connect them with the key services – shops, doctors’ surgeries, day centres etc – they identified as important to them.
Dai Powell OBE, HCT Chief Executive, says: “For the elderly and disabled, making the physical journey is often the single greatest barrier to inclusion. Non-statutory transport services inevitably suffer as pressures on local authority budgets intensify, making it increasingly important that we focus our efforts on growth, to continue servicing this under-resourced sector.”
Moreover HCT has expanded its highly effective training courses from what started as bus/minibus driver training only, into an extensive programme of skills training and education designed to help local people into employment. Topics covered are broad, reflecting the needs of individuals and employers and include areas such as hospitality and catering, warehousing and storage, health and social care and more.
The SIA funds will be used alongside other monies raised, to build new depots in London, Bristol and Leeds, as well as to replace a fleet of community transport vehicles. The additional commercial contracts following this development will help HCT to scale its social activity over the next five years, resulting in an additional 240,000 subsidised passenger journeys over the period.
Mark Bickford, Senior Fund Manager, Social Enterprise and Charities for the FSE Group, comments: “From its roots as a small community transport provider, HCT has taken an innovative approach within its sector, differentiating itself from its commercial competition and never losing sight of its social goals. We are delighted to be supporting them on their journey to further expansion.”
Jeff Dober, FSE Head of Social Impact Funds, added “HCT is a great example of what can be achieved when entrepreneurship and social vision are combined. FSE is pleased to be supporting the HCT team in this next stage of development.”
For more information or to apply to the FSE Social Impact Accelerator, please contact Mark Bickford, Senior Fund Manager. For more information on FSE’s social investment and fund development activity, please contact Jeff Dober, Head of Social Impact Funds.