Towards a Better Plymouth

Towards a Better Plymouth

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network believes that social enterprise is a fundamental way to help Plymouth become a better city to live and work in. This means a Plymouth where:

  • Wealth is generated sustainably and stays here to improve the quality of life for all
  • Everyone has access to meaningful work – work that they can see makes a difference to their community, the environment and the world
  • Good ideas are generated and entrepreneurialism encouraged

We want to see our economy grow in a way that creates these conditions, not hinders them. Developing business that has ethics at its core and exists to improve our social and natural environment (social enterprise) – rather than personal profit – is needed to make this happen.

If you also share these ambitions for Plymouth, please join us. We can only achieve this by working together.

Not sure? Let us tell you more.

  • Sustainable wealth

Plymouth’s historic dependency on the defence, manufacturing and construction industries has created challenges for the city. Plymouth was heavily impacted by the recession – losing, for example, 6,400 jobs between 2008 and 2010  (The Plymouth Fairness Commission Final Report March 2014) – and despite many positive developments, Plymouth has been struggling to sustainably generate wealth; GVA has been around 84% of the UK average for many years. (The Plymouth Fairness Commission Final Report March 2014) Where wealth is created, it is distributed unevenly across people and areas. For example, in Peverell, Widewell or Compton only 5 – 10% of families are on low incomes; in Devonport, St Peters and the Waterfront or Ham this is 43%. (The Plymouth Fairness Commission Final Report March 2014)

Unlike traditional businesses – social enterprises by nature generate wealth that is used to improve conditions in the city. Moments Cafe, for example, uses its profits to support people living with dementia. Bikespace uses income from bike repairs and other services to train young people struggling with mainstream education as bicycle mechanics. Plymouth Credit Union offers financial services including savings, affordable loans and budget accounts including for people who have been excluded from traditional services.

Social enterprises in Plymouth are growing in size and their contribution to wealth generation:  they currently bring in an income of £500 – £600 million.(Plymouth Social Enterprise Network Survey) We want to see this continue to rise so that wealth can stay in Plymouth and benefit all.

  • Meaningful work

A strong and content society goes far beyond income. We see wellbeing as critical to a better city, and meaningful work can contribute significantly to our wellbeing. When the work is perceived as meaningful, people have a sense of fulfilment and purpose that provides a psychological sense of well-being. The experience of meaningful work and well-being then spills over into the other life arenas and contributes to the overall sense of an individual’s life purpose.”(Meaningful Work and Wellbeing by J. Lee Whittington) We want to see work for Plymouth citizens that is meaningful for them and wider society.

Social enterprises are businesses that exist to make a positive impact on others; they provide work that has meaning and purpose to employees. Social enterprises are also more likely to offer fair pay, involve their staff in decision-making and employ people from specific vulnerable groups. (The Future of Business: State of Social Enterprise Survey 2017 by Social Enterprise UK)

According to their employees, PSEN member social enterprise Real Ideas Organisation provides a “strong sense of ownership and democracy” to its team because “everybody gets a say”; team members say that working for RIO is “incredibly purposeful”. (Real Ideas Organisation website)

Social enterprises currently employ over 7,000 people in Plymouth and we want to see this grow.

  •     Entrepreneurialism

“Due to the domination of Plymouth’s historically large employers, both the culture and infrastructure for entrepreneurs lags behind many other cities”. Plymouth has historically had a low business start-up rate (e.g. 60% of the England average in 2011), but entrepreneurialism is on the rise. (The Plymouth Fairness Commission Final Report March 2014)

When it comes to community and social enterprise, visitors to Plymouth note the buzz in the city. Social Enterprise UK’s State of Social Enterprise Survey 2017 states that “Plymouth is now garnering global acclaim…as a leading place for social enterprise”.(The Future of Business: State of Social Enterprise Survey 2017 by Social Enterprise UK)  PSEN’s successful bid to make Plymouth

the UK’s first Social Enterprise City in 2013 had a key role in this, attracting investment (such as Plymouth Council’s £2.5 million Plymouth Social Enterprise Investment Fund) and interest into Plymouth, where good ideas are abundant and social entrepreneurialism continues to grow.

For example, in early 2018 PSEN member Street Factory CIC crowdfunded nearly £50K to bring the UK’s first Hip Hop Theatre to Plymouth. The Entrepreneur Inside programme supported its first cohort of prisoners to build their own entrepreneurial business plans for their release. Nudge Community Builders has bought a disused pub in Stonehouse and is renovating the building to create two homes to meet local need and a mini market area on the ground floor.

We believe that if every business in Plymouth were a social enterprise it would transform the health and happiness of residents and workers in the city.

If you’d like to start a social enterprise, find out about support available here.