Family Compass are a charity based in Devon supporting people across the Southwest of England. The core of their work is a wide range of therapeutic support for children of all ages and their families, aiming to improve their mental health before they reach crisis point. Services offered consist of counselling, dramatherapy, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), Mentoring, Play therapy and Therapeutic life story work.
Ultimately, Family Compass aim to support children and families to develop the skills needed to build resilience and make sustainable change. With this in mind, all support provided is focused on improving confidence and self-belief, building positive relationships with others and managing strong feelings effectively.
In the video below, you can hear from Keda and Lucy (co-Founders), about how trading income plays a role in Family Compass and also some of the successes and learning they've seen along the way. Below the video you can also read some more context of their trading and enterprise journey, and how the Enterprise Development Programme provided support.
The journey so far
At the outset of the Enterprise Development Programme, Family Compass had a clear goal of generating additional unrestricted income, which could be used to subsidise the organisation’s ‘open access’ therapy work. It was originally envisaged that an item used in their therapeutic work, ‘Keeping it Together’ activity boxes, could be developed into a standalone retail item. After a period of working with consultants to assess the business potential, it was concluded that it would be very difficult to sell the boxes at a scale that would make it worthwhile. It was reflected that they were entering a very competitive marketplace, it required huge amounts of marketing time and resource and overall, the potential to generate surplus felt low.
"The workshops, advice and support received were invaluable - without EDP we may have ended up travelling a very long way down an expensive and ultimately unprofitable road. We were able to rationally consider the charity as a whole and focus on what we do best”. Keda, CEO, Family Compass
In turn, Family Compass focused their attention on increasing their outputs against contracts - their therapeutic support services provided for children and their families, predominantly sold to Local Authorities and other third sector organisations with children and families under their care. They utilised a grant from the programme to help renovate a larger premises and invest in training of delivery staff. This means the organisation are set up to accept a higher number of referrals and a wider variety.
Additionally, the larger premises also presented opportunity for further additional trading income - room hire. Family Compass look to maximise the use of the space by hiring out rooms to other charities and private therapists at times they are not using them (e.g., evenings and weekends). This additional unrestricted income comes with little risk and requires minimal input from the team. Therefore, even though it a small-scale activity it efficiently generates surplus funds, to subsidise therapeutic services for those unable to pay or be referred through other routes.
Similarly to others organisations on the programme, there was real benefit felt from having 'protected time' to focus on more strategic items, i.e., not the day to day running of services.
“We didn’t fully appreciate it at the time but the funding of the resource a finance and admin role ended up being a lifeline for the organisation. Stable, consistent administrative and finance support freed up me and other colleagues to focus more time on building the organisation.” Keda, CEO, Family Compass
Thanks to the growth of services and other income, the organisation has been able to continue the employment of the finance and admin role beyond the programme and also increase it to three days a week. It's felt this resource is now hugely important for the organisation, particularly as the organisation continues to grow in terms of operational efficiency, but enabling time to be given to planning, reflection and evaluation.