Full Panel Meeting II – 29th October, Marriott Hotel 9am-12pm

Next full panel meeting will be hosted by the Leeds Marriott Hotel on Friday 29th October from 9am till 12 noon, with the actual panel session running from 9.30 to 11.30am.

Book your place here http://elsiepanel2.eventbrite.com/

Our First Piece of Feedback from an Elsie Client

Really brilliant to meet with you on Tuesday and have a good natter about Upholstery! Thank you for giving me that time! I have put together a little paragraph on how you have helped me out over the past year and how the Elsie group has been a great help too!

My first coffee meeting with Mike Chitty clarified that I needed to get on a plane and do some exploring (which I have been pursuing, Biking around France, a trip to the Middle East and an excursion to India in the pipeline later this year) which has has re instilled some inspiration into my business, So thanks Mike! That was the start!

Recently Mike asked if he could put me up on in front of his Elsie group to see whether they could help with some ideas for business development and expansion. We arranged for one of my miniature sofas and a couple of cushions to be available for the Panel to look at, and recently I met Mike for a coffee, to see what ideas they had produced.

Mike presented me with an A4 sheet of paper scribbled with so many ideas from the group that was really helpful!

Great creative marketing ideas and some excellent ideas on how I can push my work forward. I like the fact that I wasn’t there which allowed the group tobe totally honest and get straight to the point.

Some of these ideas on the A4 sheet will be helpful, some invaluble and inspiring and most of all have given me a tremendous boost to try some new ideas suggested by people who have never met me!

So MASSSIVE thanks!!!


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

So what do you think of the first suggestion for an Elsie logo?

Following my request on twitter for kindly designers to think about ideas for an Elsie logo I received this in last nights email from Richard J Eaton of Appware in Wetherby…

First Draft Elsie Logo from Appware

Richard says :

…we tried to keep it clean and simple and it hopefully satisfies the elements of your brief! For the banner we were thinking along the lines of the logo at the left with a silhouette of the Leeds skyline or a Leeds landmark filling the rest of the right hand space.

All feedback appreciated on what we’ve done so far?

So what do you think?

Personally I would like the banner to be about people and their relationships as much as place – Elsie is all about sharing who we are and what we know in pursuit of progress.

I know that others are also beavering away on their ideas for an Elsie logo and look forward to sharing more of these as they come in.

But in the meantime a big thank you to Richard and the team at Appware for getting the ball rolling.

And the second idea has rolled in –  more arty, more political, more controversial….

The Elsie Tanner LogoI love the iron fist, velvet glove metaphor.  Providing support with rational diplomacy and creativity but with a steely core….

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‘.


Social Capital – the difference that makes the difference?

Social capital is a measure of the quality and quantity of relationships in a community.  The better these relationships, the greater the social capital, the easier it is for all sorts of resources to flow through the community to where they are most needed – knowledge and skills, under-used tools and even cash.  In communities with low social capital, often characterised by mistrust, greed and fear, people tend to hold what they have instead of making it available for others to use.

The deliberate development of social capital, connecting people, building trust, helping and being helped is perhaps the single most powerful, cost-effective and worthwhile thing that can be done to encourage economic, social and cultural development.  Simply put, social capital reduces the effort and cost of getting things done.  The more social capital, the better.

Elsie is an investment in social capital.

It provides a process and structure where people can come together and get the help flowing to where people can really use it to do good work.

If you would like to get involved and help the help to flow then here is how.