Elaine Lilley: Believing in young people’s potential

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Elaine Lilley is passionate about transforming the lives of young people and setting them on the road to a brighter future. As Chief Executive of The EBP (a social enterprise developing the skills of young people) she gets a real buzz from delivering the National Citizen Service programme in a major part of the East Midlands – including Lincolnshire.

It has had a massive impact in changing hundreds of young lives for the better. Teenagers who have taken part have surprised themselves and left their mark on local communities – by rejuvenating them, raising funds for local and national charities and generally supporting community projects where they can make a difference.

This feature interview was first published in issue 92 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.


Elaine is bursting with pride but she prefers to share the spotlight. In her book, success has only been achieved by tapping into the twin powers of partnership working and the support of her 50-strong, highly-motivated team.

“I love working with young people and seeing them grow and, as a social enterprise which ploughs its reserve back into the business, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the amazing support of partner businesses and organisations,” said Elaine.

She is equally keen to see members of her team, based at head office in Welton House, off Greetwell Road, Lincoln (although The EBP also has offices in Northampton and Leicester), grow and develop further.

Elaine’s rapport with her colleagues is obvious – whether they are sitting around the boardroom table, passing each other in the corridor or waiting for their photo to be taken, there’s always time to chat!

“My policy to employees is open door, I am keen that we develop our staff and if they flourish so does the business. I seek employees who understand partnership working and have good business skills, both are needed in a social enterprise. It’s important to me that we have good working relationships especially as we work in a culture where good partnership is essential.”

Elaine Lilley, Chief Executive of The EBP. Photo: Steve Smailes

Elaine Lilley, Chief Executive of The EBP. Photo: Steve Smailes

Elaine’s journey

So how did Elaine – who started working at The King’s School in Grantham, before moving on to the Department for Trade & Industry in Nottingham and then joining the Lincolnshire Training & Enterprise (Lincolnshire TEC) in Lincoln – come to be at the helm of a venture which turned over nearly £8 million at the end of the last financial year?

“I joined Lincolnshire TEC when it was formed (1991) and I was involved in getting young people into work experience and boosting enterprise skills.

“When the TEC closed down (to be followed by the Learning & Skills Councils), there was a worry about what would happen to the work we had been doing, which had received national recognition. Staff, schools, community partners and Lincolnshire County Council didn’t want it to be lost,” said Elaine.

“I was invited to set up a social enterprise and to take six members of staff with me. We were given a national grant, some small bids and a grant from Lincolnshire County Council, equipping us with a budget of £800,000. We moved into one-third of the top floor of Welton House. Now, we have grown to occupy the whole building.”

In 2010/11, Elaine had the unmissable opportunity to run one of the first National Citizen Service pilots.

Continue reading the full cover interview with Elaine Lilley in issue 92.

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