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Challengers Business Club: Lunchtime networking with Sir Vince Cable

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The Challengers Champions Business Club met on Friday 8th June to hear from Sir Vince Cable, who joined the charity to speak about the third sector and the strengths of social enterprises. Guests enjoyed a networking lunch after hearing from Sir Vince and also Challengers Parent Ambassador, Alison Stenlake.

Challengers is a local charity who provide play and leisure schemes for disabled children and young people. Currently supporting over 1,400 families across 25 schemes and 4 counties, Challengers is passionate about breaking down the barriers to play for disabled young people.

The Challengers Business Club brings together over 40 local and nationwide businesses at four events throughout the year to network, meet new people and enjoy hearing from guest speakers who have a wealth of experiences in different industries. In 2017 the Business Club had a target of raising £28,000 and absolutely exceeded that target, raising a combined £41,000 through various fundraising efforts. This momentum has continued into 2018 with member Ian Blythe updating the room with the latest fundraising achievements. Held at the beautiful Lensbury Hotel in Teddington, the sunny afternoon was filled with like-minded business people enjoying lunch in the gardens of the Lensbury and discussing their latest business ventures.

Laura Sercombe, Challengers CEO, welcomed the room before handing over to Sir Vince Cable who addressed the Business Club Members:

“We have a very big and thriving Third Sector in the UK, it operates in different ways but many of our businesses actually have a social mission as well. As it happens I am an MP, but I have kept up one of my business activities and this is to chair Britain’s largest social enterprise, a company called HCT which runs quite a lot of bus franchises and also provides accessible transport for disabled people. We are very successful and make big profits, which are all ploughed back into the social enterprise and improving mobility.

“I’m also very conscious as the MP for this area that we have a very strong sense of society, there are flourishing charities of all kinds which all depend on the support of the business community so I would encourage you to continue to participate in that kind of work, as many of you do, I believe very strongly that we need successful profit making businesses, the economy can only function that way. But there is no reason why that shouldn’t be reconciled with a social mission and a sense of social responsibility which I’m sure you all have. I want to thank you for being here and thank you for what you are already doing.”

Next to speak was Challengers Parent Ambassador who captivated the audience with the honest and endearing story of her family:

“We love Eleanor hugely, dearly, but when she is at home there is always a sense of tension because her needs are so great that its very difficult for me to do anything other than be with her and not worry about what she’s doing and not feel guilt about what I should be doing to be with her. When she goes to Challengers I don’t feel that. I don’t feel guilt, I don’t feel tense, I don’t feel worried. The other day I was talking to my partner, Harry, about Eleanor and her disabilities and we were just chatting about it generally and life is tough, but he said ‘I kind of feel ok about everything at the moment.’ He said there are two reasons for that, one of which is that we do get a bit of help with her care, a carer who comes in and helps with feeding, bedtime and bath time, and the other is Challengers. That’s the other reason that things are ok.”

After speeches, guests enjoyed their lunch in the sun and networked, catching up with old faces and making new connections. For more information about the Challengers Business Club, head to the Business Club page or contact Susie Jewell by emailing susiejewell@disability-challengers.org or calling 01483 230 060.