An Online Elsie…

You know how it is when you can’t make an Elsie meeting but wish you could?  Or think of something helpful as you are on your way home?

Well, fret no more….

We have an online Elsie community where, each month, we will post brief descriptions of the various projects we have helped at the panel meeting, allowing you to catch up and post any ideas that you might have to contribute.  You can also use it as a way to connect with other Elsie panel members, to comment on their ideas and generally do great things!

It would be wonderful to see you in the community – but please remember we are just piloting this at the moment.  However I am sure it might prove popular.

Apply to join the community here:

Look forward to seeing you in the online community and hopefully at our next panel meeting too.  The online community is great – but no substitute for getting out to the real thing!

A Vision and Mission for Elsie….

Here is a first stab at a draft vision and mission for Elsie following our recent development meeting.  Please share your thoughts and responses.  What have we missed?  How can me make it more powerful?  More appealing?  More impactful?


Leeds: a flourishing city where communities, enterprises and individuals help each other to achieve their potential



Elsie exists to help Leeds enterprises and projects of all kinds succeed, by providing free ideas and advice from a network of supporters. We aim to foster a culture of mutual support throughout the city by constantly growing the number of supporters and people we help.

How Elsie Works


  • Gives free support to any Leeds business, charity, social enterprise or community project
  • Works through advocates, who gather feedback for those seeking help from panels of trained supporters
  • Maintains high standards of competence, confidentiality and integrity
  • Does not provide ongoing or more specialised support but can advise people where to find this

How Can We Make Elsie More Helpful?

I’d really like us to think about this a little.

What can we do so that Elsie becomes a really powerful source of help, both to the people who choose to use us and to you and your fellow panel members?  How can we build our power to help?

This problem has 2 facets:

  1. How do we make it easy for people to specify and ask for the help that they need?  This has to do with building trust and ensuring confidentiality.
  2. How do we get better at recognising the help that people need and develop our collective power to respond?  What ‘help’ can we offer?
  • word of mouth
  • introductions
  • expertise and experience
  • help become investment ready
  • what else?

How can we make it easy for clients to stay in touch and ask for further support – perhaps via face book for example?

So, come on elsieites, your best thinking please on how we can become even more helpful…

The Leeds Community Panel

At the heart of the Leeds Community Enterprise Accelerator (Elsie) is the community panel that we are building.  This will be a large group of more than 60 individuals who care about Leeds and the people who live here and love nothing more than to help them succeed in their projects.  These maybe projects starting or growing a business, running a campaign, festival or carnival, taking over a community building or just about anything else that you can imagine.  It is always a surprise to see some of the great projects that go on under the radar!

So Who is on the Panel?

At the moment we have about 30 panel members trained up, all of whom are excited about the possibility of helping others with their projects and being part of a network of like minded people.  Drawn from the public, private and third sectors from in and around Leeds they are a diverse bunch with tremendous networks, experience and knowledge.

Some understand business, others know about community, some specialise in specific disciplines while others know and understand their community and how it works.  It is an interesting mix!

More Members are Needed…

We have more work to do to further increase the diversity and competence of the Elsie Panel. Specifically we need more members drawn from faith based communities and different ethnic groups as well as other geographical districts of the city.  This is vital if we are to build a panel that really connects deep into the roots of the city.

But we also are looking for more specialist knowledge and skills to join the panel.  Specifically we are looking for:


Arts and culture professionals: administrators, curators, grant managers, collectors, artists – any genre – we have some already but could do with more!

Bankers and financiers – especially community development finance

Crafts people



Community development workers

Educators – secondary, further and higher education and Education Authority

Fundraisers, Grant/bid writers

Health professionals

High Tech – digital, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology etc

Human resource practitioners


Media relations, journalists, broadcasters



Property professionals – developers, agents, architects


Restaurateurs and catering professionals

Third Sector/Social Business

Trades People

Youth workers

And if you are not on the list don’t worry. If you live work or play in Leeds and want to help others then do get in touch.

What is Involved?

If you are interested then the first thing to do is get in touch.  You will then be invited to a 2 hour briefing session where you can find out more about Elsie, meet others who are interested, find out how it will work and whether or not it might be your cup of tea.

If you want to get involved then we will invite you to attend our monthly meetings where we will provide as much assistance as we can to 4 deserving projects.

You are under no obligation to stay involved and membership of Elsie is free. You will meet some great people and have the chance to help some great projects.  The only thing we ask is that you maintain confidentiality about the challenges facing the projects we help as sometimes these may involve commercially sensitive matters.



Got more questions?


Some Reflections on Elsie…

Over the last couple of days, with the wonderful support of Cohearent Vision we have managed to train some 25 Elsie panel members and half a dozen potential advocates!

Feedback has been tremendously supportive and encouraging with some excellent insights offered into how we can move the project forward.

Why are we doing this?

Because we need many, many more people developing skills and figuring how they will deploy those skills to make a living. Increasingly this will not be by preparing to ‘meet the needs of big employers’ who may reduce employment rather than increase it.  Certainly we cannot rely on enough employers coming along to create work for everybody – however successful and competent our inward investment strategy.

The problem is not about how we deliver business support (re-arranging the deck chairs on the supply side of the Titanic) but about how we build a context where people, regardless of the scale of their aspirations or the nature of their ideas, can find the support that they need in the communities where they live and with the tools at their disposal. By developing a demand side that is much more effective at both recognising the help that it needs and then sourcing it we could save tens of millions that is otherwise spent on wasteful supply side re-organisation.  We have to build helping technologies that allow people to start from where they are at and work with what they have got.

This is what Elsie is all about…

At the core of this is a recognition that just like it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a community to raise a successful entrepreneur. We need to build communities that are much more conducive to enterprise which often means cleaning up its reputation, divorcing it from ideology and re-connecting it with concepts such as ‘livelihoods’, ‘community’ and ‘good work‘.