What’s To Love About ELSIE?


What’s To Love About Elsie?

Mike Chitty wants some love for ELSIE, the Leeds Community Enterprise Accelerator. A group of people who give practical help to great people and projects in Leeds …

For me, ELSIE is a wonderful expression of Leeds at its best. It is about people helping people to make progress – on just about anything.

ELSIE has about 150 trained members who get together a once a month for a few hours. In this time we get to chat and catch up, but we also get to listen to the stories of 3 or 4 projects or people in Leeds that are trying to do something interesting, but need a bit advice, support or help to make progress. After listening to the story, and usually a clear request for the kind of help that is required, ELSIE goes to work as we brainstorm ideas that might help. We offer ideas, contacts, resources or advice, all of which gets carefully written down and fed back to the project for them to consider. Much of what gets offered is not rocket science – but there are always some real gems and major surprises! In nearly 2 years ELSIE has held dozens of panel meetings like this and offered support to 70 or so projects in Leeds, everything from mental health projects to ‘for profits’, asylum seekers and artists.

So ELSIE helps folk who are stuck with their projects to make progress. But it does much more than this.

It exposes people and their projects to a wide range of perspectives, expertise and wisdom. We have panel members from just about every profession, from public, private and third sector and from a wide range of backgrounds. This means that the brainstorming process produces some really interesting perspectives that the usual sole mentor/adviser might struggle to generate.

It also connects the people and their projects into different parts of the Leeds community, parts of the community that they might not otherwise reach. It raises questions for us all about why good people, working on good projects find it so hard to make progress, and to find the kind of support that they need?

But the most interesting thing for me is the way it allows real relationships to develop between panel members, as well as between panel members and clients. In contrast to the standard ‘networking event’ where at some horrible point I have to say ‘My names Mike and I am a facilitator, trainer and consultant’ all I have to do is shut up, listen and offer what I know. Others in the room get to know me, not from my sales patter, but from my ability and willingness to give my expertise freely and generously. Likewise, I get to know others by the kind of help they can offer. By what they know and can do. Over time I have forged some real friendships through ELSIE and have found loads of support and the occasional bit of business.

If that sounds interesting and you would like to join Elsie as a panel member, or use ELSIE to help your project, then please do get in touch via:

Facebook.com/leedselsie or @mikechitty


  1. Good stuff Mike. It’s in a grand tradition of mutual help.

    As you know we at Temple Works have our own challenges, and at every stage we have been helped and continue to be by brainstorming and collegiality, in many cases from very unexpected sources. Catching the moment – and the idea –
    is key.

    The more heads on a project, the better!

    Keep on keeping on.


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