Social investment boosts Highland homecare

Big Issue Invest – which invests in community enterprises and charities – has made a significant investment in Highland Home Carers, an award-winning provider of homecare services for vulnerable people in the Highlands of Scotland.

Photo of carer and Helen Henderson

70 year old Helen Henderson from Inverness who has been visited by HHC for the past five years. She says without HHC her only option would be residential care – “And I wouldn’t fancy that!”

Highland Home Carers (HHC), which is 100% owned by its employees, delivers homecare and support service across the Highlands. It was founded in Inverness in 1994 and now provides carers within a 40 mile radius of the city, looking after almost 400 people.

A new finance deal with social investors including Big Issue Invest has given HHC the chance to take on more contracts and move forward.

Big Issue Invest is the social investment arm of The Big Issue and helps to scale up charities and social enterprises throughout the UK by providing loans and investments from £50,000 to £1 million.

“Our aim,” says Nigel Kershaw, Chief Executive of Big Issue Invest, “is to help dismantle poverty and inequality by investing in business solutions to social and environmental challenges.

“We see this as an investment in a community. As an employee-owned company, HHC brings not only employment but stability to the local community. They’re not likely to run off and locate in another area!”

The relatively longer distances carers have to travel in the more remote areas of the Highlands can mean that traditional capital driven businesses, would find it difficult to satisfy shareholders with high profits. This is far less of an issue for HHC, where the people who own the business are part of the community.

“We don’t make things and we don’t sell things, it is all about people,’” says HHC Chief Executive Stephen Pennington. “The people are our asset and by investing in your people you improve the quality of your service – which is at the very heart of caring.”

The company has more than 240 employees from all sorts of backgrounds and they are happy to stay with Highland Home Carers, according to Pennington. “From anecdotal evidence, we are streets ahead of our competitors in terms of employee retention. The big problem for our competitors is recruitment and holding on to staff.”

Says Nigel Kershaw from Big Issue Invest: “Our investment in Highland Home Carers will mean some people will receive home caring where no one else is willing to provide it.”
For more about Big Issue Invest and the financial support they offer to social enterprises and charities, visit www.bigissueinvest.com.