The UK is home to 68,000 social enterprises, ‘good’ businesses that include co-operatives, Community Interest Companies and trading charities. The latest figures show that Britain’s social enterprise sector is booming.
1 in 7 of all social enterprises is a start-up, more than three times the proportion of start-ups in the mainstream SME business sector. And over half (58%) of social enterprises grew their business last year, compared to 28% of SMEs (Social Enterprise.co.uk).
The sector’s flagship awards, now in their 14th year, are organised by Social Enterprise UK, who are working with partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to reach out to Britain’s 68,000-strong social enterprise movement.
The winners will be decided by a panel of expert judges including some of the UK’s leading social entrepreneurs and announced at an evening ceremony to be held in London during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November.
Lifetime achievement awards were presented to founding chair and the founding CEO of Social Enterprise UK, Baroness Glenys Thornton and Jonathan Bland.
The winners for the sector were:
UK social enterprise: East Belfast Mission. Provided 24,500 meals to older people and homeless people during last year. Also accommodated 57 homeless people and helped more than 100 people back into work.
Youth-led social enterprise: Music Theatre 4 Youth. Has engaged 2,000 young people in musical theatre over the past seven years.
Evidence of impact: HCT Group. Measures its impact using a scorecard which is reviewed twice a year. In 2011/12 HCT Group provided nearly 300,000 passenger trips for disadvantaged people and community group members, a 16% increase on the previous year.
Social entrepreneurs: Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell, The SWEET Project. Deliver work experience placements to social work students and family and child protection support for at-risk families in Birmingham. The organisation is likely to be replicated in other cities.
Employee/volunteer: Gillian Gilsenan, resettlement worker for Vision Housing. Gillian was supported by Vision Housing in 2011. Once she was resettled, she became a volunteer and is now a full-time paid employee and board member.
Social enterprise transition: Accelerate CIC. This organisation provides a clinic for people with chronic wounds and unmanaged lymphoedema and has successfully developed from being a small NHS service to an independent business.
International social enterprise: Shenzhen CANYOU Group. The biggest social enterprise in China employs people with disabilities and helps them start businesses or find jobs.