Turning passions into professions


18 December 2018
Image: Paul Hackett visiting Increase VS event
Cross Channel training programme, Increase Valorisation Sociale (VS), helps social housing residents set up their own businesses. We lead this project in partnership with nine other housing associations and training providers in England and France. 

On Tuesday 11 December we celebrated our early successes in an event in Westminster hosted by Huw Merriman (MP for Bexhill and Battle).

This £8.6m programme is the largest micro enterprise programme, tailored specifically for social housing residents and communities.  So far 570 residents have been involved in the programme and 200 people have already undertaken the training across 11 neighbourhoods in England and France.  In the UK the neighbourhoods include St Leonards, Sittingbourne, Medway, Thanet, Portsmouth, Gosport, Petersfield and Andover.

One of the participants, Elizabeth Gleeson, set up her business in Sussex, Soul Print, a wellbeing retreat company, with the help of the programme.  She said: “Before the course I had all these ideas but I didn’t really know where I was going. This course really helped me put all my ideas together and actually get my business started and up and off the ground.”

William Miller, Director of Social Impact at Optivo, said: “We’re delighted with the positive impact the Increase VS project has made in such a short period of time. Our partnership remains determined to create more opportunities for people, many of whom, have been excluded or not previously encouraged and supported in this way.”

Increase VS will continue to operate across 38 neighbourhoods along the south and east coasts of England and the north coast of France.  The project aims to train 4,000 unemployed people over a three year period, creating up to 1,200 new businesses and helping a further 2,000 into work.

Find out more about Increase VS here and checkout testimonials and success stories from participants on our twitter page.