Growing in success

Social Enterprise NI is the voice for social enterprises in Northern Ireland, and manages the delivery of the Social Economy Work Programme on behalf of the Department for the Economy. The organisation supports the continued development of the social economy sector and works to develop an environment where society profits and social enterprises excel at meeting community need, as well as continuing to fuel the growth of a sustainable social economy sector.

“The social enterprise sector is flourishing,” says Colin Jess, Director. “Interest and awareness in social enterprise as a business model is growing with public and private sector organisations more than ever appreciating the benefits of trading with local social enterprises and having them as an integral part of their supply chains. Our members report growing orders from across all sectors.

“Additionally, the recent approval from the Procurement Board to take forward legislation in Northern Ireland in the form of Social Value Act has given recognition and a further impetus to the great work which the sector has carried out over recent years. Social Enterprise NI seeks to provide assistance and guidance for those wanting to know more about the implication on the Northern Ireland economy from such a piece of legislation. We would like to acknowledge the support of the All Party Working Group at Stormont for their support, under the Chair of Stewart Dickson.”

One of the highlights of the social enterprise calendar is the annual gala industry awards celebration. These will be held later this year at The Stormont Hotel, Belfast on Friday 27 October 2017. Last year over 250 guests saw at first hand and heard of the fantastic work which the sector delivers on a daily basis across Northern Ireland, using sustainable profits including, for example, supporting long-term unemployed, those with learning disabilities and others, back into employment. This was a significant increase in number from the previous year and proved as a further indication of the increasing interest in how social enterprises are now perceived and admired for their work.

Public and private sector organisations increasingly consider the benefits of having a social enterprise on their supply chain, and look to support our members as they focus on putting resources back into their local community. Jess says: “This year keep an eye out for several new award categories as we seek to further highlight the work of the sector and give a wider recognition of what it has to offer.”

“We would invite and encourage everyone to attend this evening of celebration and be inspired. Several previous winners have proudly represented Northern Ireland in the UK finals which is to be held again this year in November in London. I am keen that the strength of the sector in Northern Ireland is recognised nationally when compared to similar organisations across England, Scotland and Wales.”

If you represent a private or public sector organisation it would be great to talk to you about how you can become more involved either by attending or sponsoring the event or by including our members on your supply chains. Perhaps you want to take out membership and if so please get in touch today with Colin on colin@socialenterpriseni.org or by calling 028 9046 1810.

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