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SignCo.io secures support from UnLtd, delivering social change in our community

We secured support and funding from UnLtd to help build lasting social impact.

Jennifer Bird • Nov 25, 2019 • 4 min read

UnLtd award winner graphic

SignCo.io is proud to announce our award from UnLtd, the UK’s foundation for social entrepreneurs. The award’s funding and tailored business support will significantly help SignCo.io to widen the positive social impact for the Deaf community and their access to British Sign Language/English interpreting.

SignCo.io is a multi-stakeholder platform co-operative, based in Merseyside, whose members are Deaf people, Sign Language Interpreters and later on people will be able to join as investor members. We are creating a platform for the delivery of interpreting services where profits will be reinvested to increase access for Deaf people and increase the standards and support of interpreters.

We have been set up to solve the problem of a lack of access for Deaf people to medical appointments. Some of the contracts for interpreting for the NHS have failed Deaf people. There have been cases of people left in hospital without an interpreter and Deaf people are often unaware of whether an interpreter has even been booked. If one is not present, appointments are often rescheduled. This inefficient system is a waste of tax payers’ money. This causes untold stress and barriers to healthcare for Deaf people that a properly running, ethical service can solve.

As two communities that are closely tied, Deaf people and interpreters have been pushed apart due to the nature of some of these contracts and we are aiming on running workshops and events that bring the two closer together for the benefit of all.

SignCo.io has been set up by a collective of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters who wish to revolutionise the way BSL interpreting services are provided in the healthcare sector. By creating a platform that works for all, the aim is to keep overheads low to remain competitive whilst giving more choice and control to Deaf people, a better way of working for interpreters and ease of use to health staff who require a system that is easy to use, fit for purpose and cost effective.

The way interpreting services are procured by statutory organisations and the agencies who have won the right to deliver services have caused untold damage to the Deaf and interpreting communities. By using a co-operative model of working, using profits to reinvest in services and by delivering innovation to the health service we can reverse this trend and keep wealth in the community for more social impact rather than funds being paid out in profits to shareholders nationally or globally. Nas Morley, UnLtd’s Director of Partnerships & Influence, underlined the timely importance of the expertise and support on offer and said: “I’m constantly amazed by the ideas social entrepreneurs have, especially as we welcome our latest cohort of award winners. Social entrepreneurs are true alchemists, taking society’s urgent problems and their lived experience and making innovative gold to share with their communities and beyond. This cohort represents that perfectly, and their unique alchemy is increasingly necessary in these trying and unpredictable times. To help our award winners create long-term success and impact, we give them with the tailored expertise, funding, and support networks they need. While I can’t predict the future, I can confidently say it will be a brighter one with the contribution these award winners will make to the lives of many and the society we live in.”

Jen Smith, SignCo.io, said: “The funding from UnLtd has enabled us to get started, to incorporate and grow our membership, to create and translate our website and to start work on the platform. We will be able to launch sooner and start making the social impact we envisage that will make a dramatic difference to Deaf people’s access to health care and the way interpreters work in this field.”

UnLtd is currently working hard with partners from both the public and private sectors to deliver social impact by harnessing the huge potential of social entrepreneurs to solve society’s biggest challenges. The organisation is focused on three big impact areas; resilient communities, employability, and solutions for an ageing society.

More information on UnLtd’s latest funding opportunities is available online here.

Editor’s notes

For more information, please contact: Jen Smith, jen@signco.io

Any UnLtd questions should be directed to Ruth Coustick-Deal, ruthcoustick-deal@unltd.org.uk or Anny Ma annyma@unltd.org.uk

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About UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs

UnLtd funds and supports passionate and committed social entrepreneurs who are determined to tackle the key issues facing society today.

UnLtd began in 2002 and since then has given out just under 20,000 awards of support and funding, direct and through partners, to social entrepreneurs to start up and scale their impact. It supports individuals running ventures firmly rooted in delivering positive social change.

UnLtd has developed a vibrant network of supporters in the UK and across the globe and is at the heart of a thriving movement for social change. Social entrepreneurs have solutions to some of the most pressing issues faced by society. UnLtd brings together insight and innovation from across the world so that social entrepreneurs can fulfil their potential to change the UK for the better.

For more information about the support offered by UnLtd go to www.unltd.org.uk

Twitter: @UnLtd

Facebook: www.facebook.com/unltd

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