Sensational, dramatic, beautiful. Three words to describe England’s fantastic cricket World Cup win yesterday. Congratulations to England and fair play/commiserations to New Zealand. Sport can bring people together and what a performance under incredible pressure from such a diverse group of players.

Also, these three words could define Plymouth’s social enterprise scene: Sensational in its scale; dramatic in its impact and beautiful in its ability to inspire.

I spoke at a conference in Santander, Spain last week on these themes: about how social enterprise has developed in Plymouth, how we became the UKs first Social Enterprise City and what this has meant for the city.

I showcased the work of many of PSEN’s members and talked about our contribution to the local economic, social and environmental priorities. I explained how the city is developing a cooperative strategy and our work around building a fairer, more inclusive economy through business in the city.

There was time for a trip to a fantastic local social enterprise called the Amica Association which runs a recycling and a laundry social enterprise. Why can’t these things be done in Plymouth? Amica works with people with learning disabilities and the work they do to value everyone’s differences and skills really shone through.

Some of the themes emerging from the conference I think we should look at in Plymouth were:

  1. The need to continually engage consumers around the fundamental idea of what social enterprise – in all its forms – is and why it is important
  2. The need to ‘change mindsets through story telling’ – a quote from Chris Blues of the Skoll Foundation
  3. To embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals more strategically and solidly in all our work
  4. Gathering good data on the social enterprise and cooperative economy to inform and influence policy making at local, regional, national and international levels.

I came away from the conference with a strong feeling of camaraderie and hope: work to promote social enterprise, coops and community business goes on all over the world and sometimes knowing that makes it feel less like we are working in a tiny bubble in south west of the UK but that we are part of wider, global movement.

Other speakers included Rachel Brown from Social Enterprise Mark, Professor Jonathan Levie of Galway University, Karel Vanderpoorten from the EU Commission on the social economy, Chris Blues of the Skoll Foundation, Elgar Bleumer the European Director of Enactus from The Netherlands, Inge Hill of Enterprise Educators UK, Holke Brammer from Yunus Social Business, Jairo Ruiz Nava of Monterrey University Mexico and Millian Diaz from Zaragoza University. All spoke on themes about social enterprise, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and work to promote social entrepreneurship across the world.

The conference was organized by the Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo (UIMP) and held at the stunning Palacio de la Magadalena overlooking the Bay of Santander.

Gareth Hart – Chair of PSEN

 

 

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