HI Future | How We Co-Created Our Homeless Employment Solution

Noisy Cricket’s mission is to bring diverse people together to co-create social change, with a vision of creating people-powered movements, so centering people impacted by social issues is integral to our work as a social enterprise. For HI Future, we recruited Mooch – a person with lived experience of homelessness – as a paid consultant, and worked with 15 impacted by homelessness to engage in user research, co-creation and testing of the HI Future solution

Compensated for the time spent on HI Future, we worked with those impacted who were looking for work, as well as people who had successfully managed to secure roles. Their personal insight into the issue, willingness to improve social mobility recruitment and ability to speak truth to power were three of the core strengths that this group of resilient, courageous and future-focused people brought to the community. 


Ensuring people with personal insight into homelessness were central helped us better understand the root causes of business barriers to homelessness, but to ensure we had a holistic perspective on the issues, we also worked with charities and public sector organisations who focus on helping homeless people become ready-for-work. Complementing our efforts to remove business barriers rather than duplication existing service provision, we worked with:

  • Business in the Community
  • Groundwork in Greater Manchester
  • Mustard Tree
  • Bolton at Home
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Business Growth Hub
  • Department for Work and Pensions
Darren Amos, Balfour Beatty
“[What worked well on the HI Future project was the] bringing together of all different parties including those affected by homelessness, support organisations and potential employers from different industries helped to provide a real insight into the issues and a spirit of collaboration”

Bringing experience of working with vulnerable people, the employment leads, work coaches and support workers we engaged with brought safeguarding skills and expertise on working with vulnerable adults, an objective perspective on social mobility recruitment issues and insights on the challenges and opportunities surrounding influencing businesses to recruitment homeless people.

With our focus on removing business barriers to homeless employment, the private sector was an integral part of co-creation too. Working with businesses across construction, energy, travel and retail industries, we made sure to understand social mobility recruitment challenges holistically. We also worked with HR, diversity and inclusion plus social value leads, to understand needs from different perspectives within each organisation. 


Our partnerships with Manchester Airport Group, Balfour Beatty, Cadent Gas and Co-op Group helped us to see where the core challenges and opportunities were in removing business barriers to homeless employment.  The majority of these challenges were based on cultural beliefs, including business employees believing impacted people weren’t willing to work, despite 88% of homeless people wanting to work again and 88% having prior work experience. 

However, these challenges also had systemic impacts, seen in how willing businesses were to target people who they perceived to have limited value in the workplace.. However, we also learned that businesses are willing to target graduates – despite having little or no previous employment experience – and adapt the recruitment process, presenting an opportunity to reshape interviews to help impacted people have a better chance of success. 

Angie Stott, Balfour Beatty
“[The unexpected outcomes and impacts of working on HI Future was] the way I view the issue of homelessness and those affected by it. I didn’t realise there is a huge spectrum of homelessness and a real need for an employment matchmaking and support service.”

Co-creation wasn’t without its challenges, however. The people with personal insight into homelessness that we worked with had occasional housing, finances and health challenges that sometimes impacted their ability to effectively contribute to the HI Future project. As charity and public support workers had recruited the 15 people we paid to participate, we had appropriate support structures in place, but required us to continuously recruit new people throughout the process. 

Charities and public sector organisations also helped us shape our safeguarding measures and provision, but one of the major challenges we experienced was that support workers, work coaches and employment leads sometimes spoke on behalf of the homeless people they had recruited to participate in HI Future. Sometimes, their perspective contradicted what homeless people were telling us they needed, requiring expert facilitation to manage. 


From a business perspective, we found our partners were willing to share openly – regardless of how the outcomes reflected on their organisation – and were keen to learn about the issue, their contribution to it and how they might change to better support homeless recruitment. Motivated  to address skill gaps, demonstrate social value for public tenders and improve diverse recruitment, however, we recognised this was a self-selecting group. 

As a result, in future we will endeavour to develop participation programmes that incentivise people impacted by issues to engage over the course of a project as opposed to a one off basis. We’ll also aim to engage businesses that have less of a vested interest in the outcome of our co-created solutions, so we have a better understanding of entrenched barriers to the issues we’re looking to address.

Faye Goodworth, Content Designer at Paper Studio
“[The value that HI Future brought to me was] A reminder of the difference working in a human-centred way can make to the people you’re designing for. Evidence of how personal bias affects decision making, and how solving problems for people with experiences different to ours does not work for anybody if it is based on our own assumptions. Validation that something as seemingly insignificant as the language you choose to use can make a huge difference to how a person feels and experiences a service. Inspiration to continue championing human-centred content and service design”

While we prepped businesses for co-creation through running the education workshop first and foremost, we didn’t undertake the same kinds of activity with charities and the public sector, who we assumed would be able to address their own preconceptions about what was needed. Building on our existing facilitation tools and training we use to prep co-creation attendees, we are exploring the roll out of a bias-check session for support organisations too.

HI Future | The Story So Far

Throughout 2019 and into 2020, Noisy Cricket C.I.C received sponsorship from Balfour Beatty, Manchester Airport Group (MAG) and the Co-op Group, in addition to a development grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, and a further donation from the Cadent Foundation. Huzzah!

As a start up social enterprise, this funding was essential, as it allowed us to co-create HI Future – our innovative and disruptive homeless employment solution – to help us on our journey towards achieving our cross-sector community’s vision of enabling secure and stable futures for homeless people. 


Inspired by an industry research partnership with Hyper Island in 2018 – where eight solutions to removing business barriers to homeless employment were explored – the HI Future project kick-started in January 2019, bringing our business partners together with charities, public sector initiatives and people impacted by homelessness.

Working collectively, the HI Future community embarked on an 18-month journey, starting with user research to help us holistically understand the experiences surrounding social mobility recruitment for businesses, the social sectors and impacted people. During a series of one-on-one interviews, workshops and focus groups, we learned a hell of a lot.

HI Future User Research Insights
– Business employees showed a narrow understanding of homelessness, perceiving it to be predominantly rough sleeping, which accounts for 5-6% of the homeless population nationally (Shelter, 2019)
– Business employees perceive personal issues (e.g. financial or relationship troubles) to be the root cause of homeless instead of systemic contributors (e.g. insecure work or lack of social or affordable housing). 
– Both business employees and decision makers in the organisation shared that while they didn’t have negative perceptions of homeless people, other people in the organisation may…
– Decision makers recognised that the combination of fellow employees’ perceptions (e.g. drug or alcohol issues) and business needs (e.g. background checks) were likely to impact a person with lived experience of homelessness’ ability to secure a job
– In recognising that a homeless person may have more personal challenges, businesses asked for support for managers in helping a homeless person back into work, but expected those impacted to behave the same as any other employee
– Impacted people told us that the bureaucracy imposed in getting ready-for-work and during recruitment was confusing, and that often, they were required to engage in training  or provide information that wasn’t useful as a tick a box exercise
– People with personal insight into homelessness were also aware that they were being profiled by businesses during recruitment, that their experiences and personal presentation were being judged and that they were expected to change to fit into new organisations
– Those impacted would like feedback to help them better prepare for the recruitment process, and often need more tailored support as they navigate housing, financial and health challenges
– Charity and public sector workers confirmed this was essential, as people settle back into structure, and that building trust is essential, as without honesty between those impacted and the people supporting them, things may go awry. 
– Charities and the public sector shared that a job at any cost is no good, as people are more likely to leave than stay in an unsuitable work environment or where pay doesn’t cover living costs

Uncovering latent business beliefs that people were personally responsible for their circumstances, our first step was to use the user research to shape an education workshop. With the intention of shifting cultural attitudes, workshops trialled with Balfour Beatty and MAG helped employees understand the root causes of the issue, as well as the employment potential of people experiencing hidden homelessness. 

Our second step was to design a recruitment tool, as the research revealed that impacted people were likely to perform poorly during interviews. Learning that interview questioning tends to focus on examples from recent work experience, we focused on reshaping systemic processes and practises that will help employers better surface candidate potential, and for people impacted by homelessness, increase the likelihood of securing a job. 

HI Future Co-Creation Insights
– In becoming ready-for-work, we realised that impacted people bring considerable strengths from their lived experience of homelessness, and where relevant, previous work experiences.
– People with personal insight into homelessness also want to determine whether or not they share their story and who with, but for those who do, finding ways to best share their experiences and journey out of homelessness would help build trust with employers
– Another major challenge is keeping track of data shared with charities, public sector organisations and businesses. Digital literacy, access to technology (for more than one hour at a time) and a place to safely save data all play a part. 
– For the businesses who have attempted social mobility recruitment previously, targeting is challenging as it requires working with hundreds of independent charities to find the right person for a role. 
– Often, businesses use jargon in job advertisements, ask for more information than is necessary for the role –  covering skills, experiences and qualifications – plus offer no clarity on documentation essential to apply for the role (e.g. identification). 
– Cut and paste versions of job advertisements are used across in house recruitment websites and across mainstream recruitment websites (e.g. Indeed and Monster) but there is no opportunity to ask questions or access support through the recruitment process.
– More informal recruitment processes would help take remove some of the challenges around cultural stigma and systemic barriers, such as focusing on a person’s recent work experience, and allow for trust to start being built
– Within each business, recruiting an advocate for homeless employment would be hugely beneficial, to support the advertising, recruitment and onboarding process for both line managers and impacted people.

Building on the cultural shifts enabled through the education workshop and potential for system redesign revealed through creating the recruitment tool, in January 2020, we brought the HI Future community together to co-create the matchmaking platform. Asking the community to help us explore how we might remove barriers during the advertising and the recruitment of roles, we revealed key opportunities for design and development. 

These insights informed the creation of HI Future’s of a personal and business Q&A, which helps uniquely matches roles based on people’s strengths over and above recent skills, determines how feasible salaries or travel distances are based on a person’s current circumstances, and identifies roles where the work environment is best suited to an individual based on their unique needs. 

Mooch Ashley, Lived Experience Consultant
“It gave me a lot of confidence to look for job opportunities for myself and to speak to employers about my past. HI Future helped me to value my experience and not try to hide my past. I found employers wanted to hear about my employment gaps. I valued the the relationship I built with employers they helped me understand my potential. It wasn’t about judging me but nurturing the skills that I brought to the table”

With the intention of empowering impacted people to make more informed decisions about suitable roles, the matchmaking platform asks businesses to take more responsibility for asking for what they need during the recruitment process, including basic role needs only, past experience and qualifications where necessary and legal obligations for identifying documentation. 

Other features include storage for CVs and cover letters to help homeless people easily and safely keep their recruitment documentation in one place and FAQs to help both businesses and homeless people access wider support. Our intention is to empower homeless people to apply for roles they may not have previously considered based on their strengths, and enable businesses to remove systemic barriers that prevent people securing roles. 


The funding means we now have a minimal viable product in the matchmaking platform plus an education workshop and recruitment tool to test-and-learn ready for launch. Additional funding is now needed for launch and an 18-month pilot, where we aim to place 250 people into employment across four boroughs in Greater Manchester. 

We’re recruiting for a non-exec commercial director

If you’re here looking for an exciting non-executive director role with an ambitious social enterprise, you’re in the right place…

The Enterprise

Photo by Bacila Vlad on Unsplash

Our Organisation

At Noisy Cricket, we engineer social change. As social innovators, our mission is to build people-powered movements through realising our vision of bringing diverse voices together to co-create solutions to social issues.  

Working purposefully and collectively on the root causes of social issues, founder Lauren Coulman, non-exec director Harry Bailey and our partner agencies work to create strategic and cross-sector responses to systemic, cultural and personal challenges in our society, all with impacted people at the heart of the solutions designed.

Using our unique humanity-centred design process to develop strategy, we map out issue-led insights, build communities, shape campaigns and design social products and services. Through our holistic approach, Noisy Cricket’s powerful work empowers changemakers and facilitates social change in health inequality, youth poverty and tech ethics. That’s just through our consultancy work too – we’re also on the cusp of launching our first venture in homeless employment.

Our Ambition

In our transition from start-up to scale up, this past year saw us convert to a social enterprise, as well as attract significant funding and sponsorship to fuel our growth. As we look to cement our sustainability and scale our impact, Noisy Cricket needs a curious, courageous and collaborative team to help drive our success.

With ambitions to further strengthen the impact and reach of the cross-sector consultancy – which acts as the engine of organisation – the next stage of growth will involve strengthening our own product base with which to drive and influence change. Developing and financing new ventures is also key, in demonstrating the power of our approach, as well as providing the capital to underpin future ventures and investments.

With a solid base in Greater Manchester, working across the private, public and third sectors, in the next three years, we intend to grow nationally, as our movements grow and take new and exciting forms. Health inequality, youth poverty and tech ethics are our current spheres of influence and addressing social issues such as these – at root cause and with a true sense of community – is essential in coming on board.

As thought-leaders in this space – our founder Lauren Coulman contributes at Forbes.com and writes for issue publications of the likes of Big Issue North – platforming our unique insights into social issues and humanity-centred design is key. As facilitators of change, platforming our changemakers will play a major part in our ambition to grow to a £1m plus turnover enterprise and bring on board design, facilitation and campaign talent in 2021. 

Most important, however, is the innovative culture of social entrepreneurialism we want to instil in the organisation, with each individual and organisation we employ, partner with or influence to think differently and model new approaches. Actively listening, courageously caring and being ambitiously hopeful is how we live and breathe as Noisy Cricket. How about you?

The Role

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

Your Remit

Your role as Noisy Cricket’s non-exec commercial director is to help us achieve sustainable growth through driving both social and economic value, build strategic partnerships and explore how we utilise our capital to share power with our team, partners, customers and communities. 

You will also be working directly with our founder, Lauren Coulman, and non-exec director, Harry Bailey in driving the strategic direction of the social enterprise, working with the wider team in shaping the culture of our organisation and supporting our consultancy and venture leaders as they look to grow new projects and ventures. 

We are looking for a commercial non-executive director who is open-minded, comfortable challenging cultures and systems and is a team player, with an ability to flex across commercial and financial skill sets, work across sectors and with people at all levels of financial literacy. 

Most importantly, you’ll want to make the world a more equitable, equal and enlightened place, and that’s why we’re particularly interested in hearing from women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ folk and disabled or neurodiverse people. Being diverse and inclusive simply means we inherently live and breathe the kind of change we want to see in the world.

Your Brief

In supporting Noisy Cricket, we’ll be asking you to focus on:

Commercials: Supporting us on developing pricing, commercial modelling and breakeven analysis for our consultancy work and venture projects

Financing: Understanding of the (social) investment, financing and funding landscape, working with us on bids and pitches to fuel our growth

Financial Management: Helping us establish robust financial practices through ensuring rigour in managing our costs, optimising our revenue opportunities and driving profitability for future re-investment in Noisy Cricket’s work

Financial Advice: Advising us (alongside our accountants) on the tax requirements surrounding social enterprises, research and development opportunities and employee and shareholder remuneration

The role will be predominantly advisory-based, with some research, shaping of tools and processes plus coaching required to support Noisy Cricket’s founder, board and teams. 

The Offer

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Your Commitment

We’re looking for people who are committed to our purpose, so you’ll initially be brought on board for a three-year term. We expect to move and flex quickly in those three years, so excepting the founding director, anyone who would love to remain involved will be welcomed to reapply for a role on the Noisy Cricket board.

In year 1, you’d be required to spend a minimum of one day a month (usually spread over the month rather than on a given day)  on Noisy Cricket support, projects and director’s meetings, with flexibility around existing work projects and commitments.

Year 2 and 3 we would expect this to scale but will be open to discussion based on need and the balance of you and the rest of the board. Our physical base is in central Manchester, but we’re flexible to travel and very comfortable working remotely, so happy to flex based on whatever works best.

Your Remuneration

As a C.I.C limited by share, demonstrating that social value is valuable is essential. It’s why pro-bono work offers aren’t for us, so for the first three years of your role on the board, we’ll be offering 10% shares to value your time and investment in the organisation.

Excepting the founding director, the shares will be redeemable and without voting rights, and upon leaving your role with Noisy Cricket, will be returned back to the organisation. As directors, we’ll collectively determine whether these are paid in the interim or at the end of each financial year, but what’s important is recognising your contribution. 

The Application

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Stage 1: Expressions of Interest

Simply let us know that you’re keen to play a part in Noisy Cricket’s future and why by filling in this expression of interest form here

Deadline: Friday 5th February 2021

Stage 2: Initial Chat 

We’ll have an initial conversation to clarify any questions you have about the role, its remit and responsibilities, so we’re all on the same page. 

Deadline: Friday 19th February, 2021

Stage 3: Experience 

You’ll be invited to send across your CV—so we can understand your background—and a case study or proposal which offers insights into how you have or would approach shaping a new venture. 

CV gaps, alternative work experiences or careers changes aren’t an issue here. We only want to get a feel of where you’re coming from. The case study or proposal simply need to demonstrate why you’re a great fit for the role. 

Deadline: Friday 26th February, 2021

Stage 4: Informal Conversation

This will be a simple chat to explore a little bit more about who you are, your values and what motivates you. No preparation is needed. 

Deadline: Friday 12th March 2021

Stage 5: Formal Interview

We’ll be digging a little deeper into your personal and professional experience and strengths. Past skills will be useful here too, but we’re more interested in your abilities and your approach to your work. 

Deadline: Friday 26th March, 2021

 Final offers will be made and confirmed by Friday 2nd April. Good luck!

Our team is growing…

This isn’t your usual non-executive director announcement. On the surface, it may seem that way. We’ve appointed a white, heterosexual, cisgender and able-bodied male. So far, so business-as-standard, right? Except, Harry Bailey and I don’t necessarily see it that way. 

Harry Bailey

In many ways, Harry’s appointment wasn’t a conscious choice on my part. (Hold that gasp). We met over 18 months ago on a side project both of us were involved in shaping and delivering. The Inclusion Coalition, somewhat ironically, was taking a sharp look at the needs and gaps around the tech industry’s willingness and ability to engage diverse people in its workforce. 

Harry used his voice to connect dots between the underlying issues we were exploring and brought other, more marginalised people and perspectives to the fore of the work we were doing. It took a few months to realise he was transitioning out of his role as director of product evolution at Human, a progressive software company he had co-founded and helped successfully scale. 

As a social enterprise which engineers social change – building communities, designing solutions and growing our income to grow our impact – his experience and network bring tremendous amounts of value to the movement’s we’re building out of Noisy Cricket. Yet, while we’re both conscious his background has been gifted in part because of his privilege in society, it’s not his business chops that recommended him to Noisy Cricket. 

Instead, what spoke to me was his willingness to not speak, if that makes sense. As much as Harry is able to see the golden nugget of truth in any situation, and speak up for people who might not yet have a place at the table, mostly, he is just as happy to sit back and listen, learn and add value only when it’s needed.


If you come from a corporate background, like me, masculine behaviours like competition, assertiveness and decisiveness have a tendency to overwhelm proceedings. Our vision at Noisy Cricket is bringing diverse people together to co-create change, and when you’re dealing with vulnerable people, being able to listen and let other people own their voice and power is make or break.

I saw this in action in the year Harry volunteered on our flagship Noisy Cricket venture, HI Future. We have brought people who have experienced homelessness together with businesses, and it’s sensitive, challenging work. His ability to listen when its need and challenge me and the rest of the team in a constructive way is essential.  

All this was contributed long before I was able to pay anyone for taking on an official role within the project. So, it took eighteen months, witnessing how Harry worked, to realise he was a perfect fit for Noisy Cricket, precisely because of his refusal to take advantage of his white, heterosexual, cisgender and able-bodied male identity.

HI Future.jpg

So, it’s a strange thing to announce. We’re not ignorant of the message his appointment sends, but neither do we want to shy away from it. The experience he has been afforded is useful, but it’s the values of active listening, courageously caring and being ambitiously hopeful that makes him a great fit for Noisy Cricket, and how we both live and breathe that day-to-day. 

And, that includes this conversation. We want to create open, nuanced and broad-sighted discussions about change. 

Just as our work in building the HI Future community – where people who have previously rough slept work alongside business leaders and public sector officials to determine how we change recruitment practises and deeply held stigmas – creates space for everyone to hold power and have a voice, we must mirror that internally. 

High Five EDIT

What’s brilliant about Harry’s appointment is that his willingness to face into that very imbalance is what makes him perfect for the role. And, it’s his gift in understanding teams, mentoring people and establishing open, inclusive and progressive cultures that will help Noisy Cricket do the great work it does, but at scale. 

He’s likely to be the last white male we’ll employ for a while, but there’ll be many, many more people like him who come to work with Noisy Cricket. 

Why become a social enterprise?

Huzzah! Noisy Cricket is now a social enterprise. Life didn’t start out this way though, back in late 2016, when I set up a business to build people-powered movements and bring diverse people together to co-create social change.

We started out as a limited company because at the time, I couldn’t see how a social impact consultancy fit within the world of social enterprise. We empowered changemakers and facilitated change, so direct impact wasn’t within our reach.

Yet, as with any business and life in general, things change. Almost two and a half years later, our model has evolved. Whilst we still help cross-sector organisations and changemakers from all walks of life strategize and collaborate to drive progress, it wasn’t enough.

Why? Because what Noisy Cricket is asking of us in creating social change is a tall order. Addressing root causes over symptoms. Working collectively in opposition to our traditional sector silo-mentality. Purposeful and future-focused action over issue politics and getting lost in the now.

Very few client briefs came through asking us to cross-sector and social divides, though we’ve had some tremendous fortune with the progressive people we’ve had (and still have) the pleasure to work with.

Researching and mapping issues, designing transformative programmes and building proactive communities will always be at our core, and we’re continuing to scale our work in issues as challenging and diverse as tech ethics, health inequality and diversity and inclusion.

Yet being exposed to the major gaps in addressing issues, seeing how powerful change can be when different people face into each other’s humanity and do so with a common purpose gave us an idea. What if we created the movements from scratch?

So, as well as mentoring those looking to change the world and working inside organisations to drive external impact, we started to innovate, building social impact ventures that utilised Noisy Cricket’s theory of change, and using our humanity-centred design approach, shift how its created too.

Over the course of the last year, it’s become apparent we’re more of an engine than a traditional agency or consultancy. We work with, not for, and ask questions instead of tell. It’s not always an easy pitch, but when it comes to social change, remaining open and agile is all.

So too are the people at the centre of our work. Those people impacted by inequality, who often find themselves voiceless, and struggle to find their power within systems that serve others, and in cultures that denigrate their value. Co-production is at our heart.

So, as we increasingly find ourselves directly creating impact – and our model evolving to engineer change both in the process and in the insights, products, communities and campaigns we design – we began to ask questions of our structure.

Whilst social was core to how we operated, how might that look in a more official capacity? With everything from a social business with purpose at its core, a community interest company, where trade and change combine and a charity with pure impact at its heart, where to set our stall?

We decided on social enterprise – the middle ground – with a leaning towards profitability. With purpose, profitability and people central to our conversion, we’re now a community interest company that’s limited by share.

What this means is that 65% of our profits will be invested, either back into Noisy Cricket to further championing changemakers, facilitating change or innovating in social impact, or organisations and issues we champion. Should we ever shut up shop, our profits will go to an asset-locked body.

35% will be made available to shareholders, however, and when you’re dealing in social impact, that can feel uncomfortable, but here’s why. With so much social good being created and delivered either very cheaply or for free, we devalue social impact and the people giving and receiving it.

So, Noisy Cricket’s model inherently asks a challenging question, in how much we value social impact, both socially, culturally and economically. As organisations wake up to the needs, expectations and demands of a wholly conscientious new generation, it’s going to get interesting.

So too is the conversation around what we pay our designers, researchers, facilitators and campaigners. For so long, we’ve expected those in social and caring sectors to work for little and give a lot, and how we reward talent and purpose requires examination. Valuing people is important.

In addition to questioning value, we have to examine how we’re creating. As the world wakes up to the need to live and work with both purpose AND profit, we need to scale from bootstrapped business to a sustainable enterprise, and it’s going to take some ingenuity.

Income from trading, sponsorship for our projects and grant funding will all play its part in the short to medium term, but long-term, we have big ambitions, and to scale we’ll need investment. For that, return on investment may be part of the picture, and as an enterprise, we’ll need to remain open.

Most important, always, is our purpose, and that’s why becoming a CIC is essential. In embedding our “how” in our articles of association, and committing to constantly assessing our impact, no matter how Nosy Cricket grows, how we do what we do will always be central to our work.

So, here’s to redefining social value, stretching the limits of social enterprise and doing so with diverse people with purpose at its core. For those wanting to build movements around the issues you care about, come join your voice with ours.

Are you sure you’re having an impact?

Social impact – and the measurement of it – is pretty challenging. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important. Knowing you’re making a difference when it comes to the issues of the likes of poverty, equality and fulfilment is essential. Yet, unlike capital, it’s hard to quantify.

Dealing with products, customers and awareness is a simple matter of whether your numbers add up to more than what you put in to start with. Turnover, profits, return on investment (ROI)? All relatively simple. Measuring how giving people agency, shifting a system to be more inclusive or impacting cultures through changing mindsets… much harder!

As a result, in the third and public sectors, where the focus is less on profit and more on people or a bigger purpose, we tend to get caught up on the delivery of solutions. The number of services or programmes undertaken, and the people processed through. Views of an awareness-raising video on a social issue or using an app to obtain peer support. Numbers, numbers, numbers.

Yet, those numbers don’t necessarily add up to anything. If “we measure what we value” as an adage is true, what value is watching a video creating? What difference does attendance at a training course make to someone’s life? Very rarely does social impact measurement deal in the how its meeting people’s needs or changing behaviours to pursue a more conscientious course of action.

So, the focus on solutions, and the “deliverable outcomes” they’re designed to deliver often limit us. Not just because we have no idea if they’re making a difference, but in fixating on a quantifiable end goal, we’re controlling and constricting what good looks like from the outset. Resultantly, it closes down curiosity, and the ability to learn and flex in an arena where change is constant.

Instead, charities, social enterprises and public departments make change a contained and finite process, when in reality, people’s lives, society and the economy is constantly in flux, and in some instances, can actively prevent progress from taking place. Just when we as changemakers thought we were sticking it to the system, eh?

Its an infuriating realisation, especially for those wanting to make a difference in the world. Add to that the fact that despite we’re actively removing the work away from concepts like ROI, we’re still working within funder prescribed conditions, which ultimately come down to what you’ve been budgeted to deliver.

Deliver for “free” too. As it’s charitable, or pro-social, the expectation from the wider market and society is that it’s delivered cheaply or on goodwill, and in the process of making change happen, are actively devaluing the work we do. Not only have we failed to change the systems many people move into these sectors to avoid, but we’re shadowing it too, and not in a disruptive way.

It’s these issues that as an organisation we’re reflecting on, as we design for social change, and build movements with diverse people. What we value is people-valuing one another, and coming together to enable to live safe, connected and meaningful lives, regardless of their identity or life experience. How the hell do you measure that?

The answer is, we don’t know, but we’re asking questions. Questions like, how do you redefine worth when it’s only ever been calculated in dollar signs? How might we remain open to innovation with the constraints that capital brings? How are we creating value where people are prioritised alongside profit?

Difficult, but we’re trying. Encouraging businesses to see social impact as more than fundraising and volunteering, and proactively engaging in co-creating social change like we have with our homelessness employment initiative, HI Future. Remaining open to innovation by committing ourselves to an agile process, where change is constant and active listening is embedded in Noisy Cricket’s MO.

As for creating value, we’re looking at alternative ways to measure it, and going beyond simply quantifying human movement and looking to capture the meaningful experiences that create change in communities, industries, lives and society. We’re starting with the questions though, and if you’re interested in helping us understand them, give us a shout!


Home is where the changemakers are…

What a way to start 2019! Today, it was announced that Noisy Cricket is one of six WONDERFUL socially-focused organisations moving into The Federation. Sponsored by the Co-Op Foundation, in partnership with The Luminate Group, they’re supporting us with desk space in the heart of Manchester, in the tech ethics focused co-working space, with the intention of helping us grow and better support the communities we serve.

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As social enterprises supporting people experiencing homelessness, fighting food poverty and enabling community cohesion, we’d say we’re in good company. Company – which as we start to scale Noisy Cricket’s efforts and impact after two years in operation – where we can learn from each other’s models, social change approaches and ways of engaging the people we set up shop to help. Pretty exciting stuff.

For Noisy Cricket in particular though, this means a few things. One, it provides a home for the work we’re doing in tech ethics, health inequality and poverty. Being a small operation can be a lonely business, and working in social impact can be challenging, so to be surrounded by other organisations with purpose makes it feel like we’ve found our people. People who get the challenges of creating social value in a world which is only just waking up to the triple bottom line.

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Secondly, it’s going to become a hub for an exciting new venture we’re building and trialling throughout 2019. For the past year, we’ve been getting under the skin of homeless employment. Tackling the root causes of social issues is our bag and understanding why a region struggling to keep on top of a rising social issue, whilst several industries with major skills gaps led us to ask some questions.

Questions that have led us to the barriers preventing business employing people who have experienced homelessness, and true to our usual form, how we bring diverse voices together with people who are impacted to co-create a solution.  Working collectively can be uncomfortable and working with people we don’t usually interact with can be a steep learning curve, so having The Federation community, of people experienced on working on challenging social issues will be a huge help.


More practically, but most delightful, is the support and encouragement we’re receiving in converting from a socially committed but (legally) limited business to a social enterprise. When we first started out as a social impact consultancy, a social enterprise seemed out of our reach, as working with clients cross-sector, we had the power to influence social change, but not directly create it, making measuring our impact challenging.

All of that is about to change, however. Businesses grow, change, respond to fluxing wants and needs, and Noisy Cricket is no different. As we establish our own models to build people-powered movements – always in partnership with other incredible changemakers – our impact will be both direct and indirect, and with the backing and inspiration of organisations like Luminate, The Co-Op and The Federation, we couldn’t think of a better place in which to transition.

Here’s to 2019, loves!

Lauren x