The right investment crucial to keep Doncaster community projects thriving, says Ed Miliband


  • Local MP sees critical role that social enterprises and social impact investment can play in supporting the green economy and saving costs for the taxpayer
  • Refurnish sells refurbished furniture while providing training to support members of the local community
  • Visit organiser Big Society Capital is calling on political parties to recognise the role that social impact investment can play in making Britain a better place in their manifestos

Doncaster North MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Ed Miliband visited Doncaster Refurnish on Friday (February 9th), where he affirmed the need for the right investment in social enterprises, particularly those which “are so important for providing local jobs, supporting our community and improving our environment”.

Refurnish staff including CEO Andy Simpson guided Mr Miliband around the facility, showing him how furniture and household goods are reused, remanufactured, retailed and recycled on site. The social enterprise processes over 350 tonnes of products on the site per year.

Mr Miliband praised the work that staff at Refurnish do to re-use valuable resources and minimise waste, while also noting their social contribution in helping to train and provide work experience for people with special educational needs and disability, young offenders and rehabilitating prisoners who are due for release.

Refurnish also runs a project called CIAO (Changing Inside And Out) focusing on supportingpeople to acknowledge, understand and work with a range of challenges including anxiety, ADHD, autism and dyslexia that affect their daily lives.

Refurnish has been a recipient of several hundreds of thousands of pounds, over several investments, over about 20 years from social impact investor the Key Fund, which was used to help the organisation scale. The Key Fund has received funding from Access – the Foundation for Social Investment and Big Society Capital.

Social impact investment is where investors with a social purpose invest money, usually by lending it to organisations that have business solutions to social problems, like Doncaster Refurnish. Organisations across the constituency of Doncaster North have been the recipients of at least £950,000 of social impact investment.

The visit was organised by Big Society Capital, the UK’s leading social impact investor and Access – the Foundation for Social Investment. With a general election expected in 2024, they believe social impact investment offers the opportunity for the next government to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing society and make public money go further.

They are calling on political parties to recognise the role that social impact investment can play in growing the economy and tackling some of our most difficult social problems in their manifestos.

Big Society Capital and Access – the Foundation for Social Investment also organised an event in Parliament in November 2023, in coordination with the Community Enterprise Growth Plancoalition. At the event Mr Miliband met Mr Simpson to celebrate Social Enterprise Day, but the visit on Friday was the first time Mr Miliband had visited the Refurnish site.

Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North and Shadow Secretary for Energy Security and Net Zero, said:

“It was great to visit Refurnish in my constituency today. I have long been aware of the work they do and are so impressed by the team. It was great to get a chance to see their excellent work.

The right investment is critical to keep social enterprises like this thriving, especially those like Refurnish which are so important for providing local jobs, supporting our community and improving our environment.”

Andy Simpson, Chief Executive, Doncaster Refurnish said:

“It was great to have Ed visit our site today and talk to him about what we do. Social impact investment helped us to scale and run these projects and make lives better for people in Doncaster and it would be great to see it be available for more organisations like ours.”

Stephen Muers, Chief Executive, Big Society Capital said:

“Refurnish play a vital role helping re-use resources that would otherwise go to waste while providing vital services for local people. With public funds tightening in a difficult fiscal environment, harnessing social impact investment allows for smarter spending to support the work of organisations like this while making taxpayers’ money go further.”

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive, Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, said:

“It’s been a truly inspiring day visiting the team at Refurnish. We need to ensure that more finance can flow to amazing social enterprises like this. That’s why we have championed the Community Enterprise Growth Plan and the crucial role of the Dormant Asset scheme in unlocking support for thousands more organisations over the next decade.”

Matt Smith, Chief Executive, The Key Fund said:

“Refurnish is a great example of how successful organisations can become with the right investment. We are delighted to have supported Andy and the team to reduce waste and do so much good work for local people, they are a real success story for social enterprise and show how social investment can support growth.”


About Big Society Capital

Big Society Capital is the UK’s leading social impact investor. Our mission is to grow the amount of money invested in tackling social issues and inequalities in the UK. We do this by investing our own capital and helping others invest for impact too.

Since 2012, we have helped build a market that has directed more than £9 billion into social purpose organisations tackling issues from homelessness and mental health, to childhood obesity and fuel poverty, a ten-fold increase in ten years.