Just Enterprise – Compassionate Accompaniment CIC
We spoke with Misty Hannah about how Compassionate Accompaniment CIC became a social enterprise thanks to start-up support from Just Enterprise and funding from Firstport.
What does your social enterprise focus on?
We focus on health care by offering wellbeing services for grief/loss and end of life accompaniment. We also offer services around self-compassion. Self-compassion is a way of relating to ourselves with kindness and support. It’s about being a friend to ourselves and learning to respond with compassion rather than judgement. This is where the practice of sensory awareness including mindfulness can help us to discover how to accompany ourselves in difficult times.
Tell us more about your purpose
An increasing amount of studies are showing that compassionate care is hugely beneficial to our wellbeing and can help to prevent illness and alleviate chronic health conditions. Our services help people to live in ways that give them a sense of autonomy for their own health. Once they learn how to care for themselves they become more emotionally resilient and are in a stronger position to help others.
Our motto is ‘Caring for ourselves helps us care for the world’.
What was your motivation for setting up a social enterprise?
Becoming a social enterprise has helped us to reach more people in our community. We have developed a company with services that people trust. When it was just me, without the face and the brand of Compassionate Accompaniment CIC (CA), it was challenging to approach larger organisations to collaborate on projects. Now we collaborate with a wide variety of organisations, and lead on projects.
When did you access business support from us and what questions did you have for your business advisor?
I first got in touch in 2019 and was assigned Emma Ives as my business advisor. Initially I had questions about financial projections and setting up our board, followed by questions about safeguarding policies and procedures, risk assessment for working from home or in the field, and equality, diversity and inclusion.
How did start-up support help you in your journey to becoming a social enterprise?
Talking with a business advisor helped us in so many ways. This has included preparing us for:
– Renting studio spaces throughout West Lothian and Edinburgh before the pandemic
– Creating our home studio to continue offering our services online during the pandemic
– Strenghtening our marketing and social media skills and presence
– Reaching more individuals and communities needing these services
– Continuig to grow and expand our ideas to meet our financial needs
– Working toward collaborative projects with other organisations, hospitals and charities
– Reducing pressure on the NHS via education in self-compassion, community care and wellbeing
– Connecting and networking with universities and foundations
Do you have any advice for someone who is considering reaching out for start-up support through Just Enterprise?
Come with passion for what you want to do and articulate your ideas as clearly as possible. Be open to learning new things about running a company or business. There are things you may love about setting up a social enterprise and keeping it going, and there are things that simply need to get done. Remember, the things you love will fuel you to get through the things that need to get done. Ask questions and request help when you need it.
Have you received funding from Firstport?
After receiving start-up support through Just Enterprise, we applied for and received a Build It award in 2022. Build It has helped us expand by allowing us to hire staff and pay myself a salary for a year. It gave CA time to grow steadily, cushioning us financially giving us more time and energy to invest in larger projects.
We ran a bereavement support pilot programme at NHS Forth Valley hospital. This was a great success and this led us to a partnership with the hospital offering this as an ongoing service. We have also become a supplier with the British Red Cross through our refugee and asylum wellness sessions, and have recently been asked to expand services to women’s support groups.
We are also working with the Sensory Awareness Foundation (a U.S. based organisation). We are currently preparing to run a new pilot in 2024 for refugee youth groups which will include education in self-compassion support.
Build It also helped us secure a venue where we can host events in West Lothian; a beautiful community wellness centre located on 35 acres of woodland. It’s been a brilliant confidence boost to have Firstport invest in CA. We’re so grateful for the help we have received.
What is next on the horizon for Compassionate Accompaniment CIC?
We have established ourselves as a trusted, committed social enterprise. Going forward CA will focus on expanding and reaching even more people. We will continue to do this through local hospitals and hospices, but we are also creating a nature-based environment for CA to work from. We are currently in the process of acquiring space where we can offer our services within several acres of woodlands. These services will include artist collaboration, therapeutic gardening and animal companionship for people who need additional support for self-compassionate care, grief/loss and end of life accompaniment.