John Hitchin, Renaisi’s CEO writes week notes to capture and reflect on the realities of running a social enterprise.

Away day

Team Day on Zoom

We had our all-team away day. It was odd doing it online but also lovely to see everyone. We made chocolates and talked about how we want to make the business better, and spent time with each other to understand some of the very different roles in the organisation. You can read one of those colleague interviews here.

I could go on, but best to just read this about our awards. It tells you all you need to know about a team I am very proud to lead.

Giving out the awards is always one of my favourite things to do in my role, mainly because I get to read all the lovely things that people say about their colleagues. This year was sad because we usually go from the awards to a pub. While not everyone in our team drinks, most come for a bit to spend time with colleagues after the buzz of the day. This year felt a bit flat, with the energy having nowhere to go. Hardly the worst thing to have happened as a result of Coronavirus, but it did make me feel quite low.

Moving on

We’ve welcomed a few new colleagues in recent weeks and one of our brilliant consultants, Martha Aitken, is moving on to an exciting role at UK Youth. While we’re sad to see her go, I am optimistic that we will have been a great place to establish and accelerate the career of a talented researcher. Renaisi’s alumni network is an impressive one. When people tell me that they are moving on, I always ask them where they are going. I see it as an informal indicator of whether we’re supporting people in the right way. I’ve only ever tried to persuade people to stay when they tell me they’re going somewhere that I think they could do better than.

Last week (when we were not in Tier 2 and still in rule of six territory) a few of us went for a drink after work which I took as one part of Martha’s leaving do. It was glorious to sit in a bar with my colleagues and talk about work, but also about music and food and lots of other important and unimportant things.


The day before the away day, I gave the whole team a one hour update of where the company is at. We looked at finances, work, a range of social enterprise issues, strategy … There was a lot to very proud of, including some important developments with new areas of work. I had a couple of meetings this week which confirmed the progress we’ve been making. We’ve secured some new partnership investments, progressed some big ideas on our work in Southwark, and saw some old clients get back in touch.

There are some significant challenges ahead for us – primarily to do with the commissioning of future support for people struggling to access the labour market – but I am very proud of how we’ve responded to the challenges of the last six months. I know this team can deal with what comes next.

So, a week of both happiness and sadness. Of people moving on, and new people starting. Of successes and new challenges. It’s never either/or, always both/and.