The End of ELSIE?

As you may know recently we have been struggling to get the numbers of quality projects that we need to make ELSIE panels interesting and worthwhile.

Consequently numbers attending have been falling away.

There are a number of reasons for this, including a number of new ‘self help’ projects that involve eating pies, willing skills, views from valleys etc.

Also without a ‘coach’ we are unable to work with enough projects to ensure that they are ready to come to panel – so we have ended up doing some really basic business advice – which is not what the Elsie panel is for.

And, we have struggled to find the time and energy to do the administration that project needs to set up meetings with plenty of notice, communicate them well etc

So we find ourselves at a crossroads.

Do we push on to the next stage, which for me would involve recruiting a coach to work with people doing good stuff in Leeds free of charge, and bringing those that would really benefit to the panel when they are ready.

Or, do we knock ELSIE on the head knowing that over the last 3 years she has helped hundreds of people, both clients and panel members to feel better connected and t et the support that they need in what can feel like a lonely city – especially for those unable to pay for their advice and support networks.

Or perhaps there is another option? If so I would love to hear it?

Elsie Panel Meeting 17th Feb

The next Elsie Panel meeting takes place at Forster Community College in Bradford on 17th February.  Our host Al Griffin has arranged for us to have lunch before with a 20% discount at the colleges new bistro, and to give a further voucher for a 20% discount to all who attend to use at a future date.

Please book your place here:

Taking Elsie Forward….

Elsie is growing up, and perhaps it is time for her to leave home and make her way in the world. To this end we are looking to set up a working group of Elsieites to plan her sustainable future.

We’ve now got a date for the first meeting of this group: Tuesday 24 January, 9.30-11.30am at Logistik in Armley. Agenda to be decided but will be based on the three main themes of:

  1. Strategy – the Elsie methodology and how to grow the organisation, including finance
  2. Operations – fixing meetings, recruiting panel members, other communications
  3. Marketing – picking up the points about brand and going direct to potential clients at “grassroots level” rather than via intermediary organisations

We’d like to assemble a group of around 10 ‘Elsie activists’ with an interest in developing the network further. If you’d like to be part of this, please email Andy Bagley or just sign up for the first working party session here.

A New Identity for Elsie…

Elsie - Local Enterprise Accelerator for Leeds




First of all massive thanks to Elsie member Richard Eaton who supplied the purple logo that we have used to date.  But today I am pleased to show a new slightly more considered logo that tries to say a bit more about who we are, what we do, how we do it and why!  It has been developed by a friend of Elsie who has asked to not be named.

Elsie is about PEOPLE and communication.

Many logos for community-based initiatives insist on using graphics of hands, or little stick people stood in a circle. This kind of approach has lost its meaning and looks terribly ‘corporate’.

So here we’ve put a human voice to Elsie, by using a hand-written signature. It suggests that Elsie is informal and friendly, and that anyone is welcome. We’ve also put a dotted line in there – partly to anchor the name to the strapline, but also to imply a certain level of commitment and seriousness – ‘Sign on the dotted line’.

If you’re serious about enterprise, then come and talk to Elsie.

A Free Resource for Coaches, Mentors and Advisers

The Leeds Community Enterprise Accelerator – Elsie – is a new tool for coaches, mentors and advisers working with enterprising people in and around the city.  Elsie is, in essence, a giant brain, with a huge heart and lots of soul that can be used to source ideas, introductions and other resources.

Elsie is a group of more than 90 people, and growing, from all walks of life who have come together to help enterprising people and projects in and around Leeds.  Once a month they meet to hear 4 advocates (what we call the coaches, advisers or mentors) each take about 5-7 minutes to tell them about an enterprising client that they are working with and their project, and the nature of the help that they are looking for.  We then spend the next 25 minutes or so creatively generating ideas, resources, introductions that may help, and carefully record them.  At the end of the session the advocate takes this note and talks it through with their client the next time they meet to agree what, if anything, might be worth pursuing.

As well as providing you with a list of resources that may help in working with your clients the panel also gives both you and them tremendous exposure across the city as panel members spread the word through their networks of the projects and people that they meet through Elsie.  But don’t worry, we have discussed the importance of confidentiality and while panel members will raise the profile as required they will not disclose any confidential information that you may share with us.

By working with Elsie to widen the search for new resources  we think you will add a lot of value to your work and develop your networks across the city.

If you are interested in working with Elsie, either as an advocate or as a panel member, then contact Elsie organiser Mike Chitty

Get hold of free COBRAs with your library membership…

Marian Whitfield from COBRA has been in touch as a supporter of ELSIE from afar. Cobweb aren’t based in Leeds so she hasn’t offered to get involved directly but she has been following our development of ELSIE with interest.

Marian thought it might be useful for anyone who is involved in ELSIE to know that members of Leeds City Library can get remote access to COBRA (with our Business Opportunity Profiles and Business Information Factsheets) remotely, using their library ticket number.

I have used COBRA stuff over the years and they are great.

Find out more here.

What is Elsie?

Leeds Community Enterprise (Elsie for short) is an enterprise accelerator.  A source of wisdom, advice and practical support that can be used by anyone in Leeds who is undertaking any kind of enterprise.  It may be a business, a campaign, community group or any other project.  It is for anyone who is looking to make progress, but needs a bit of a boost.

Elsie is a group of trained volunteers drawn from all walks of Leeds life who meet for 2 hours every month to brainstorm advice, guidance and support for anyone in Leeds who is looking to advance a particular project, but needs help.  Elsie not only offers practical and technical advice, but will also act as point of contact into other Leeds support networks.

Elsie does not work directly with the people who are seeking support, but with their advocates, who may be a friend, relative, coach or advisor.  We train these advocates so that they can get the most out of their time with Elsie and get maximum benefit from the process.  By working with those who are already providing help and support in the community we are able to keep our costs down and our reach up.

Elsie meetings are fun, fast moving, practically focussed and above all helpful – and not just for the people who are seeking support.  Panel membership will open up some brilliant networks in the city.

Want to get involved?  Then drop me an email to or simply sign up for the next training session here to be held at West Yorkshire Playhouse on November 21st or the December 14th Training to take place at Leeds Trinity Horsforth