Social Enterprise City Festival 2020 banner

In 2013, Plymouth became the UK’s first Social Enterprise City. This prestigious award from Social Enterprise UK recognized that Plymouth is a hot-spot for social enterprise activity in the UK. The city is now developing as a global ‘social enterprise city’. We have one of the most active social enterprise networks in the country and a buzzing ecosystem of support for social entrepreneurs. 

Nearly ten years later, that city badge and subsequent investment has helped develop social enterprises in Plymouth. We estimate that over £10 million of investment and support for our social enterprises has been levered in by the city badge. There are now around 250 social enterprises and cooperative businesses in the city working across a wide range of sectors including education, health, arts, environment, food, finance, housing, business support, sport, social care and more. Collectively these businesses employ around 9,500 people and bring in an income of over £700 million. More information is HERE.

PSEN were instrumental in leading the bid for this award, but the successes of the last 10 years belong to our members – the entrepreneurs and organisations doing business differently for people and planet in our city.

We are holding some exciting events to reflect on and celebrate our collective journey building Plymouth’s greener, fairer economy.

“ The Story So Far”
In May 2023 we held a multi day exhibition reflecting on 10 years of Social Enterprise in Plymouth. Held at Vacancy Atlas, an exciting meanwhile property use project in the heart of Plymouth city centre.  

We worked with members to creatively present archive materials, visuals and artefacts which traced the growth and impact of social enterprise in Plymouth. We invited VIPs and community groups from across the city to learn about social enterprise, the work of PSEN and promoted the impact of our members. The unique location and collection of content helped us engage with the public and reach new audiences outside our usual networks.

Thank you to our collaborators for the Exhibition:  Plymouth Hope and Nudge Community Builders, and to Vacancy Atlas for hosting us and providing the venue.
There would not such a rich archive of imagery and video from the last 10 years without the work of Fotonow CIC. We thank them for allowing us to display their work.

Check out the Exhibition Booklet

Festival 2023 – Plymouth Social Enterprise City X – a Decade of Impact

Plymouth is gearing up for an inspiring 14th Annual Social Enterprise Festival, organised by Plymouth Social Enterprise Network. This year’s festival carries special significance as it marks a decade since Plymouth was designated as an official Social Enterprise Place by Social Enterprise UK.

The festival, scheduled to take place from the 8th to the 17th of November 2023, promises an exciting line up of workshops, talks, tours and member led events that celebrate the incredible contributions of social enterprises in driving positive change within the city.

Last year’s edition of the festival featured over 20 events attended by around 500 people. The activities included a launch at the Athenaeum; a women’s networking event; and a fun social, social enterprise quiz night. The State of Us conference explored economic democracy and community power. There were focus groups on PSEN’s own approach to diversity, values and the environment; a plastics shedding bonanza; Millfields Trust’s AGM; and Plymouth Energy Community’s inspiring change gathering. We saw repairing, making and mending with The Scrapstore; listened to Hospital Radio; and brought and shared at Jarsquad’s events. Climate Clarity ran an environmental business taster and Iridescent Ideas delivered a business advice seminar. And finally, to wrap it all up, WonderZoo curated a wonderfully diverse arts, poetry, music and business event at The Plot.

The 14th Annual Social Enterprise Festival in is set to be an immersive and interactive experience for attendees, thanks to the exciting integration of the MapYourEvent app by Digitwell Solutions. This innovative app offers an intuitive platform, allowing festival-goers to explore event listings, create personalized schedules, access real-time updates, and navigate interactive venue maps effortlessly.

The Plymouth Social Enterprise Festival has become a landmark event in the city’s calendar, promoting social entrepreneurship, forging valuable connections, and inspiring collective efforts to address pressing societal challenges through doing business differently. We’re fortunate this year to be sharing the celebrations with our friends at POP, as they mark their own 10 year anniversary of supporting the community and voluntary sectors in our city.

Join us for an unforgettable celebration of social enterprise and its transformative impact on Plymouth. Keep an eye on our social media, Newsletter and dedicated festival page for more details and events as they are finalised.

More events and celebrations are in the works, including:

  • A short film, including the insights and experiences of local social enterprises, to be screened during the Festival in November and clips used across our platforms through the year.
  • A book to tell the story of Social Enterprise in the city so far, the major events, organisations and individuals that have shaped that story, plus ideas and aspirations for the future.

 We’ll be looking for some case studies for the book, and if you have any photos or media from your organisation’s work the last ten years, we would love to see them. If you are happy to be interviewed on film, that would be wonderful too!

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network