Plymouth has today been announced as one of the first ‘social enterprise cities’ in the country.
The accolade, granted by Social Enterprise UK – the national body for Social Enterprise – recognises the extent and quality of social enterprise business activity in the city. Bristol has also been awarded the status.
Plymouth’s Social Enterprise City status will raise the profile of the sector, within the city and beyond, and could also help to attract extra investment so social enterprises in Plymouth can make a bigger contribution to the local economy. There are an estimated 150 such firms in Plymouth that collectively employ around 6,000-7,000 people and bring in half a billion pounds of income to the city.
Gareth Hart, Chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network (PSEN) – which led the bid for the award, said:
“This is fantastic news for Plymouth which proves we are one of the nation’s social enterprise capital cities. This award is recognition for the hard of work of the scores of social enterprises in the city and those who support them.
We have a diverse range of social enterprises in the city including massive businesses like the University and Plymouth Community Healthcare but we also host large numbers of smaller but no less valued companies.
What’s happening in Plymouth can happen right across the country. This bold, imaginative approach can change the way we think about economic development in towns, cities and regions.”
The award is part of a ‘Social Enterprise Places’ scheme being run by Social Enterprise UK. The scheme recognizes that there are towns, cities and areas that wish to promote their status as ‘hotspots’ of social enterprise activity. In order to be certified as a social enterprise city a number of criteria must be met, committing the town to promoting the social enterprise message, and encouraging local people and local businesses to buy from social enterprises.
Peter Holbrooke, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, said:
“Continued austerity is dismantling communities and local amenities, deepening the UK’s social problems and leaving many people out in the cold.
Social enterprise cities are taking matters into their own hands, re-injecting life into their local area and protecting local economies using social enterprise.
Plymouth and Bristol are prime examples of what enterprising communities can achieve in times of hardship.
We hope to see many more towns and cities celebrate their social enterprise status.”
Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said:
“It is great to see us recognised as one of only two social enterprise cities in the country.
Everywhere you look in Plymouth and see people working together for the good of their city and their community there is likely to be a social enterprise.
You can see it in north Plymouth where we are working with residents to set up a Community Economic Development Trust.
The Wolseley Trust and Millfields Trust – both social enterprises – are going great guns and we are backing the likes of Ocean Studios, which will create business and a buzz in a stunning Royal William Yard and could create over 100 jobs and a home for Plymouth’s burgeoning creative arts enterprise culture.
We want to be a ‘brilliant co-operative council’ and part of that ethos is working with other organisations to encourage good ideas to come to life and instil a sense of can-do in Plymouth.”
Professor Wendy Purcell, Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University, said:
“Social enterprise makes a huge and positive contribution to people’s lives, and to the competitiveness of the UK economy.
As the enterprise University, and an anchor institution within the region, we are committed to using our world class research and expertise to create new opportunities and foster entrepreneurial spirit.
We are proud to be part of the UK’s first social enterprise city, and will continue to use our rich and varied experience to transform lives throughout our campus and community.”
Social enterprises are businesses that trade for social and environmental purposes, not to maximise profits for owners and shareholders. Social enterprise covers a range of business models, including community interest companies, not-for-profit, mutual and charitable companies.
The news comes ahead of PSEN’s plan to stage another festival of social enterprise in Plymouth this November, following the success of the inaugural event last year when 500 people attended events each day for a week.
PSEN is a business network of 100 members including nearly 70 Plymouth-based social enterprises and 30 other interested organizations.
Further details and action plans are available at the links below