Business Development Project Manager (Better Pathways - Express Signs)

Salary: £40k pro-rata
Post: Fixed-Term Contract: 6 - 9 months (with the potential for a year depending on early outcomes)
Location: Birmingham

Better Pathways is looking to recruit an experienced business development professional to lead a review of its Express Signs social enterprise based in Solihull.  For information about Express Signs please go to  The ultimate aim of the project is to have a business case setting out a plan for achieving Express Signs’ long-term sustainability, both commercially and as a provider of pathways to employment opportunities for people needing support to maintain good mental health.  The project manager will be supported by an external consultant, commissioned to advise on broader strategy. 

This is an ideal opportunity for someone who would relish the chance of getting their sleeves rolled up and stuck into what will be an interesting and challenging assignment.  Express Signs’ small staff team of two is energised by the prospect of working with someone to turn around a service they feel passionate about but that has not had the focus it needs until now.  There is real potential to make a big difference here.

Express Signs is an enterprise delivering services to people participating on its vocational therapeutic mental health recovery programme, some of whom are in receipt of secondary mental health services.  The service, based on Vulcan Road in Solihull, currently supports upwards of 8 people, some of whom are now volunteers no longer in receipt of clinical services.  A key aim of the service is to grow participants’ confidence, sense of self-worth, their skills and abilities and independence.  Express Signs sells its services to commercial and public sector customers.  The enterprise specialises in the design, production, engraving and printing of a range of products including: 

  • Interior or Exterior Buildings Signage
  • Badges
  • Health and Safety Signage
  • Vehicle Graphics
  • Promotional Banners
  • Large Posters
  • Vinyl Lettering
  • Corporate Gifts
  • Engraving


To apply

Please read the project context and role description below. A person specification is also attached.

For an informal conversation about this opportunity please contact Sue Roberts at or call 07753 327821.

CVs, setting out clearly how the person specification is met, should be sent to

The closing date for CVs is Friday 12th June.  We reserve the right to bring this forward to Friday, 4th June if interest allows.  



Project Context

Express Signs is currently managed by Better Pathways (BP) under an SLA with the Birmingham Specialist Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT).  This arrangement recognises that services of Express Signs’ unique nature are best managed within a setting where social enterprise and charitable endeavour is a key focus.  

The service is under-developed and its service model requires review and modernisation.  The customer base is shrinking and income from sales is falling, (from what has always been a low level, ie, circa £27k at its highest).  The service no longer receives clinical referrals.  In essence, the service is stagnating but what it does do, it does very well and service users value the support they get as do the service’s customers.  

The outcome of this project will be a decision as to whether and how Express Signs should best continue or alternative solutions be found.  The following important questions need to be addressed within the business case:

  1. Is there a long-term need for this service from a service user and clinical perspective, ie, do current participants benefit from the service and will clinicians support the service by referring to it?
  2. Does Express Signs have the potential to become a successful social enterprise (on its own or in partnership with another service or organisation), generating sufficient income to cover the costs of running a properly managed, sustainable, healthy enterprise?  If yes, how?
  3. If yes, how long will it take for Express Signs to become self-sustaining and what investment will be required to make it so?  
  4. If yes, from where will that investment come?  How will it be secured?



Role Description

  • Project Leadership
    • In collaboration with the project sponsor (Better Pathways CEO), 
    • Agree terms of reference for the Express Signs opportunity evaluation, project outputs and outcomes
    • Develop the project working plan
    • Establish project reporting framework
    • Compile and maintain a project risk register
    • Manage the project budget[1]


  • Establish scale of mental health services market opportunities
    • Explain the work of Express Signs to clinicians, seeking consensus that it could be a valuable source of support for BSMHFT’s (and FTB’s?) patients on their road to recovery,
    • Draw together an understanding of mental health recovery services that exist in Solihull and set out a role that Express Signs could play within this wider network of support.
    • Carry out a customer survey to establish what they value when using Express Signs.
    • Review the value to current service users of coming to Express Signs and consult with them on any changes they would like to see.


  • Review other vocational pathways appropriate for delivery by Express Signs (and Better Pathways other social enterprises):
    • Review whether opportunities exist now and in the future from DWP, JCP+ and local employability support funding streams
    • Consider whether a partnership with a college or other training body would be viable/beneficial, eg, for City and Guilds, NVQ qualifications, making links to explore options and develop proposals.  


  • Review Social Value Act potential opportunities 
    • Assess the opportunity for working in the construction industry supply chain
    • Focus on construction firms supplying to public sector and housing association markets in Birmingham and W. Midlands region
    • Review other sector supply chain opportunities


  • Commercial viability
    • Based on existing work-station capacity, model the service user numbers it is possible to support now and encourage referrals to maximise service user placements for time-limited 
      • work experience
      • volunteering
    • Model what could be possible in a future commercially successful, financially self-sustaining, service for
      • work experience
      • volunteering
      • peer mentoring
      • job coaching
      • paid employment within Express Signs
    • Undertake market analysis of local competitors delivering the same or similar services to those currently delivered by Express Signs.
    • Consider what partnerships/collaborations might be pursued, eg, with other local printing businesses, with the construction industry (for signage etc)
    • Use this analysis to inform proposals for what business Express Signs should be in.


  • Better Pathways Social Enterprise
    • Better Pathways runs a packing and assembly social enterprise (BAS).  It also runs a small woodcraft centre[2].  
    • Whilst the main driver for this project is the Express Signs enterprise, this project will need to include a consideration of options for bringing together within an overarching recovery and leadership model all 3 enterprises under the Better Pathways umbrella.
    • The business case will include an assessment of the potential for BSMHFT patients to be supported on their recovery journeys by all three areas of activity.


  • Produce the Business Case
    • Liaise with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to agree a future buildings plan.  Consider the desirability of re-locating Express Signs, eg, to the High Street, perhaps open a charity shop or co-locate with a complementary business. 
    • Set out upfront investment required for the business lines/model being proposed, eg, 
      • Leadership team, staffing and other direct costs
      • Equipment to deliver commercial product
      • Buildings related costs
      • Transition costs
    • Set out a business I&E assessment:
      • Projected annual income from commercial customers
      • Income potential from other sources
      • Fundraising
      • Corporate sponsorship
      • Public sector commissioned services, eg, DWP, Access to Work
      • Personal Budgets
      • Any other?
      • Annual running and overhead costs


  • Implementation Plan
    • If the business case is successful, produce an implementation plan



[1] [1] There will be a modest budget of up to £10k to cover all project overheads including access to retained specialist consultants who will be available to provide subject matter expertise to the project team. 

[2] There is work underway with BSMHFT colleagues (Reaside medium secure services) to explore the potential for collaboration in the delivery of woodcraft services.