Newcastle Race Course was the venue for the first ever North East Social Enterprise Festival. The Festival was a celebration of the breadth and growth of this sector. When the organiser of the event, Kate Welch CEO of Social Enterprise Acumen CIC, was asked about the future, she responded “next year will be even bigger and better and we will be rolling out the idea to many other parts of the UK and beyond.”
Every activity, product and service available was provided by a Social Enterprise. Even the fantastic logo was the result of the wonderfully creative team at Alpha Communications, a worker’s cooperative and a social enterprise.
Although the majority of Social Entrepreneurs operate and trade for the benefit of communities in the North East (so when they profit, our society profits) there are many internationally known brands operating for global good. The water on sale at the Festival was from Belu. To date Belu has given WaterAid a total of £1,003,290.
Sunderland is one of the areas with the highest children obesity levels in the country and some of the wonderful exhibitors work tirelessly to combat this growing problem. Keep Kids Active is a community interest company that inspires children, young people and adults to achieve success through sport, fitness, dance, cooking and creative activities. The Festival enabled organisation to promote and educate the general public on the services they offer like group activities on behalf of schools, health services and community groups.
A large but often forgotten sector of many communities in the North East is the ex-offender population. Loree Moran-Wilson started her organization, Make Your Way, based her personal experience and knowledge for the needs of social inclusion. Loree believes that rehabilitation is at the core of reducing re-offending and addiction issues and has had great success in providing an environment where exoffenders can gain a skill, confidence, support and encouragement.
Eight early stage social entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to pitch to a panel of judges for cash prizes. The room was set up like Dragons Dens, cash was up for grabs but the similarity stopped there as the common motivation of each of the pitchers was to use the prize money to make a positive change for social good. The winners were Birkheads Wild, their obvious passion and determination to give young people the chance to discover, explore and enjoy the outdoors was evident.
The event was made possible through the coordinated efforts of Social Enterprise Acumen CIC, Keepmoat, Your Homes Newcastle, UNW and Virgin Money amongst others. The Festival had numerous displays of the benefits of collaborative efforts and a fantastic array of creative ways to combat social problems. Puppets, robots, stilt walkers, drummers, artists, IT geeks, bakers and business skills were all being displayed. The Festival provided a platform for social entrepreneurs to demonstrate the tools they use to fulfil their desires to make their community better