A dental centre for Cornwall, specifically designed and adapted for patients with special needs including mental health conditions and Autism, is set to open in Spring 2019 after a one million pound investment from Big Issue Invest (BII).
Big Issue Invest provided investment to Smile Together CIC, a local employee-owned social enterprise and Community Interest Company, in late 2018. The investment will help to finance the refurbishment of a former grammar school into a purpose-built dental centre for the community. Resonance, a social impact investment company, worked with Smile Together as advisers on the investment raise.
The opening of the centre, located on Harleigh Road in Bodmin, Cornwall will increase access to emergency, specialist and routine dental care, provide enhanced access and facilities for all patient groups, and also increase the availability of preventative support, education and treatment programmes. An adjoining part of the building will eventually house other local businesses, promoting further financial sustainability for Smile Together.
Refurbishing the building means Smile Together will be able to provide full disabled access with parking directly outside, facilities accessible by all types of wheelchair, and including the only bariatric chair in Cornwall, allowing patients who have limitations in health and social care due to physical size, health, mobility and environmental access to be safely treated on the same dental chair as all other patients. This dual-purpose dental chair also doubles as a wheelchair tipper for those patients who are unable to transfer into a routine dental chair and is able to accommodate larger than average wheelchairs. There will be a ‘Changing Places’ accessible toilet facility, four well-equipped dental surgeries and waiting areas designed to ensure the comfort of all patients and visitors to the building.
Smile Together currently operates from 13 sites across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. They already treat over 40,000 patients per year including more than 4,000 special needs patients each year across the region, twice as many as they are contracted and funded to see. The organisation is also an employee-owned social enterprise; everyone in the team can opt to be a shareholder and thus have a genuine voice in Smile Together’s future.
James Salmon, Investment Director at Big Issue Invest, said:
BII is delighted to be able to support Smile Together on this community initiative. These ambitious plans to increase their own unique brand of dentistry with social impact, is a boon for the communities across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This much-loved property in Bodmin, refurbished and purpose-designed to meet the requirements of patients across the county, will set an example for how ‘dentistry with social impact’ should be delivered setting the standard for other mission-led dental practices.
Paul Critchley, Managing Director for Smile Together, said: “After launching as an employee-owned dental social enterprise and community interest company in 2016, one of the things our team felt passionately about was enhancing our clinical environments and treatment options for patients – to improve our dental services, exceed patient expectations and enable everyone to deliver above and beyond what we’re commissioned and contracted to do. Having bought this wonderful building, we consulted with patients, commissioners and local contractors, and together developed our plans. We are therefore pleased and proud to have secured this investment funding from Big Issue Invest which will help us realise this unique shared vision for dentistry in Cornwall.”
Ben Wrigley, Investment Manager at Resonance said: “It was a great pleasure to advise Smile Together, and work with their professional and committed team. They not only provide high quality NHS dental care, but also the same quality service to those in Cornwall in hard to reach communities that have difficulty accessing treatment, such as fishermen and their families. Tooth decay is the main reason young children are admitted to hospital for extraction under general anaesthetic, which is the motivation for Smile Together’s oral health programme in schools – using education to prevent this happening. The investment from BII will enable them to make a greater impact; delivering care from better clinical facilities and increasing access to dentistry treatment across the whole community in Cornwall.”
Smile Together’s new centre in Bodmin will increase local access to competitively-priced and fully accessible dental services, and they will see children for free.
Their vision is to create healthier happier communities across Cornwall and the South West, reinvesting surpluses generated into community and outreach dentistry alongside the provision of oral health and prevention programmes for children.
Big Issue Invest made the investment in December 2018 from the Big Issue Invest Social Enterprise Investment Fund II LP (SEIF II), a £23.8 million investment fund that follows on the success of Big Issue Invest’s first (SEIF I) fund which is now fully committed having invested over £8 million into 21 social enterprises.
For more information visit Smile Together.