Home Featured The Vital Role of the 3rd Sector, in Fostering Our Economy and Society

The Vital Role of the 3rd Sector, in Fostering Our Economy and Society

By Paul Cadman

by Keerat

Paul Cadman, Director – The Technology Supply Chain


In a time when the lines between private and non-profit sectors are becoming increasingly blurred, the third sector—comprising non-profits, charities and social enterprises—plays a role in addressing some of society’s most pressing challenges.

The charity sector on its own is valued at over £20 billion to the UK economy and there are around 900,000 jobs within the industry; it’s a significant part of the UK economy.

In 2022 the combined value of volunteering and donations came to £23bn, representing 0.8% of total UK GDP. The £23bn figure is larger than the sports and gambling sector (£18.4bn), and the UK tourism industry (£2.3bn), combined.

As someone deeply committed to this cause I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with organisations that actively contribute to the betterment of our economy and society.

The third sector is not simply an auxiliary to the government and business sectors; it serves as a force for change, innovation and social transformation. Its impact goes beyond numbers; it’s about creating a more inclusive, caring and prosperous society for everyone. So let’s explore how the third sector collaborates with individuals and leaders like myself to make a difference.

Unemployment continues to be an issue in our society that affects individuals and communities on a scale. The third sector takes a role in addressing this challenge by providing employment support services, developing skills and boosting the confidence of those who’re unemployed. I’ve had the privilege of serving as Chairman of Steps To Work Board and Starting Point Recruitment before taking on the role of Interim CEO in April this year.



These organisations are dedicated to empowering those who’re unemployed. Our goal is to inspire hope, offer skills and assist individuals in overcoming the challenges that prevent them from finding employment.

By collaborating with employers and partners we are determined to make a positive impact, on the lives of those facing barriers to employment ultimately helping long term unemployed individuals reintegrate into the workforce.

Our sister company, Starting Point Recruitment (SPR) takes an approach that sets it apart from traditional recruitment agencies. We donate all of our profits to projects that support employment initiatives and bring about transformations in the lives of residents.

Since 2003 we have contributed over £3.1 million to employment support projects across the West Midlands. These endeavours assist individuals in securing jobs. Also contribute to the local economy. Steps to Work group has generated £202m in social impact to the locality over the five years to 2022. That’s just one charity in a small town in the West Midlands.

Empowering the generation is another aspect of our work in the third sector. The Birmingham Youth Sports Academy (BYSA) for which I proudly serve as Chairman stands as an example. Established in 2002 as an organisation BYSA provides football coaching for people aged 6-18. Our goal is to ensure the safety, well being and fulfilment of individuals while assisting them in reaching their objectives and aspirations be it, through sports or education.

BYSA has aspirations to enable people to progress in sports and education by introducing vocational and educational trips and programs, expanding our range of sports offerings and promoting girls football. As a charity BYSA represents not a sports academy but also a beacon of hope and opportunity for young individuals thanks to the support from the third sector.

The third sector actively engages with challenges that our world faces today. Having personally served as Chairman of the Black Country Environmental Partnership (BCEP) I have witnessed first-hand the impact that collaboration can have. By uniting businesses, organisations and local authorities we strive for development while addressing environmental issues in the Black Country region.



Such collaborations encourage practices to reduce industries’ carbon footprints and promote eco-friendly initiatives. This benefits our planet. Also leads to cost savings for businesses while creating employment opportunities within green industries.

Innovation lies at the heart of efforts, within the sector. Non-profit organisations are known for their flexibility and dedication to their missions, which makes them ideal breeding grounds for innovation and social entrepreneurship.

I’ve had the privilege of serving as a director at the Technology Supply Chain (TSC), a membership Non-profit CIC that connects manufacturers, engineering firms and tech companies with grants and new opportunities. It has over 4,000 free members. The TSC serves as an example of how the third sector can collaborate hand in hand with the sector to drive growth and employment opportunities.

Through fostering entrepreneurs and supporting community projects non-profits bring about change and develop sustainable solutions that benefit society. This spirit of innovation is crucial in today’s world where we face challenges that require solutions.

Furthermore the third sector plays a role in cultivating a culture of generosity. By promoting giving, non-profits inspire individuals, corporations and philanthropists to contribute towards causes that truly matter. My involvement with Acorns Children Hospice, Art4Charity and St Basils reflects my commitment to nurturing this culture of giving.

Such organisations encourage individuals and businesses to support those who’re most vulnerable or in need. Personally I have spearheaded the raising of tens of thousands of pounds with others for these charities.

Whether it’s directing resources towards Acorns Children’s Hospice. Supporting initiatives aimed at tackling homelessness by providing shelter for those without homes. I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed the power of the third sector through these endeavours.

The goal is to create an effect of change, where both individuals and organisations feel inspired to make a difference in the lives of others. This culture of giving goes beyond a one time gesture; it’s a process that uplifts everyone involved.

While the government and private sectors undoubtedly have roles in development the third sector promotes collaboration that is often more agile and community oriented. Through collaboration we can combine resources, knowledge and expertise to address issues, like youth unemployment, skills gaps and urban regeneration. These partnerships across sectors amplify our impact. Leverage the unique strengths of each sector.



Looking ahead, my experiences with third sector organisations have shown me the influence they can have on our society and economy. The third sector embodies values like community spirit, compassion and collaboration. By fostering innovation, promoting generosity and advocating for change it creates differences in people’s lives and improves the wellbeing of our communities.

In the years to come I am committed to continuing my work with and support for third sector organisations. These non-profit organisations, charitable groups and social enterprises play a role in creating an inclusive, caring and prosperous society that benefits everyone. Our collective actions have the power to shape a future where opportunities are abundant and no one gets left behind.

The contribution of the sector to our economy and society is immeasurable. This sector is driven by a commitment to bringing about change and improving the wellbeing of our communities. It empowers individuals, fosters innovation, promotes philanthropy advocates, for inclusion and strives for transformation.

In these times the third sector serves as a beacon of hope. Together we can work towards building a future for all.

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