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Enter if you dare!

How would you react if you received an invitation to enter a Dragons Den?  Would you accept or decline such an offer? When the invite dropped into our Chair’s inbox, all sorts of things entered her head. Would it be a fire spewing serpent or reptile or some monster? Would she get out alive or manage to escape unscathed? Reading further, Ruby discovered it would be similar to the TV programme but the invitation was to “pitch” to some friendly dragons.


The invite came via Shropshire Providers Consortium (SPC).  The aim, to connect businesses for social good, providing a link between industry and voluntary and community enterprises (VCSE) in Shropshire. The Dragons’ Den style charity event would enable local businesses to support community organisations to benefit Shropshire communities and people.

For businesses this is a great way to not only demonstrate corporate social responsibility (CRS) but to create PR and interesting news, connect like-minded people and develop mutually beneficial relationships with community organisations.

The plan was for each VCSE organisation to have a maximum of 10 minutes to pitch to the business judging panel.  Once all of the pitches had been made, the businesses would decide which organisations to support. 

How has Shropshire Disability Network benefited?

After the first “pitch” in Shrewsbury, resulting in a “score” not by a dragon but by another “pitcher” who offered storage for SDN equipment, Ruby dared to enter another den, which was held at The British Ironwork Centre, Oswestry. This has resulted in two way support by one of the friendly dragons.

What does SDN working in partnership with The British Ironwork Centre mean?

Clive Knowles, Owner/Managing Director, was very keen to meet with Ruby, to talk and give support to SDN. But Dragons Den was never meant to be “one way”.  So, SDN are supporting The British Ironwork Centre by using and sharing our knowledge and skills around disability issues to make this 5-star attraction even better.

So far:

  • SDN has benefited from a generous donation.
  • The British Ironwork Centre has a link on our website.
  • SDN will be supporting the submitted application by the British Ironwork Centre to Shropshire Council to get the new toilet block completed and open so that it will not be necessary to bring in extra porta loos for the busy seasons.
  • We are making suggestions i.e. to have a “Stoma Friendly Toilet” as well as tweaking some signage and ideas re prevention of trip hazards.
  • SDN will continue to make visits to look at maintaining and expanding upon this “disabled friendly” local attraction. We will introducing an award scheme that we will use for places like The British Ironwork Centre (certificates of bronze, silver, gold and platinum).  When we are invited to engage, we can give awards depending on how we rate them for disability facilities.
  • The British Ironwork Centre is now part of Safe Place Shropshire. They have a supply of “I need help cards”.
  • SDN has made suggestions on having some aids available that visitors can lone while visiting and are supporting on this.
  • The British Ironwork Centre have requested 2 SDN collecting tins, so that they can support our work. They also have SDN leaflets.

SDN are very pleased to have “dared to enter” and accepting the invitation to take part in the Dragons Den style events. By taking part in the Shrewsbury event, it was like a practice run for the second one. As Ruby said when reporting to the Management Committee “There were pluses from Shrewsbury i.e. storage space”.

We are so grateful to Shropshire Youth Association for assisting us with storage as it had become a real issue for our charity. Plus, by “daring to enter” it highlighted that we need to educate and raise more awareness of our work, as some dragon feedback showed a need to understand how SDN charity works.

By working in partnership with The British Ironwork Centre we feel this has been a great outcome from the Dragons’ Den style event and we know that Clive and the staff at the British Ironwork Centre feel the same.

Watch this space for updates of how our partnership working develops.

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