UK Social Enterprise Awards 2012 winners announced


Over 300 business leaders and entrepreneurs gathered at the UK Social Enterprise Awards in London’s Marylebone.

12 November 2012

This year's winners were chosen by a panel of expert judges from a record number of entries.  Comedian and television presenter Sue Perkins presented the winners with bespoke trophies made by social enterprise Elvis & Kresse, which makes life-style accessories from materials otherwise destined in landfill.

The sector’s flagship awards, now in their 14th year, are organised by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), the national body for the sector.  Britain is home to 68,000 social enterprises and the sector is booming:  1 in 7 of all social enterprises is a start-up, more than three times the proportion of SME start-ups.  And social enterprises are outstripping SMEs for growth; 58 per cent of social enterprises grew last year compared with 28 per cent of SMEs*.  Social enterprises exist to tackle social problems.


The 2012 winners:

Start-Up Social Enterprise - Bristol Together CIC (pictured)

Launched in October 2011, Bristol Together in the South-West buys empty, sub-standard properties that are then repaired and refurbished with the help of ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed.  

In their first year of operation Bristol Together brought seven empty properties back into use, created work for over 20 ex-offenders, and is on course for first year sales revenue of £2.3m on which will be reinvested in buying further properties in need of renovation. Over the next five years they expect to create full-time jobs for over 200 of the most excluded people in and around Bristol and replicate the model in other cities across the UK. 

UK Social Enterprise - East Belfast Mission

East Belfast Mission is one of the longest established and largest community enterprises in Belfast.  Based in an area where there’s high social and economic deprivation they provide a future to all those in need, regardless of background or belief.  They operate a range of businesses – 11 shops and 2 workshops and a range of community services including employment support, housing support and youth services.

Last year’s results include the provision of 24,500 meals to older people and the homeless, accommodation for 57 homeless individuals, the support of over 100 people back into work. 

Social Enterprise Leader - Dai Powell, Chief Executive of HCT Group

Dai became Chief Executive of the HCT Group in 1993 when the organisation consisted of a handful of minibuses and a volunteer workforce, providing subsidised minibus transport for community groups in Hackney and transport for older people and people with disabilities.  Dai has grown the organisation from a turnover of £202k in 1993 to a 2010/11 turnover of £28.1m.

HCT Group now operates transport and training services from 12 depots across England and the Channel Islands. HCT Group earns its revenues from transport contracts won in the marketplace, with profits reinvested into community transport and training projects that have a real social impact. 

Social Enterprise Supporter - International Network of Street Papers

From its Glasgow headquarters, International Network of Street Papers (INSP) four-person strong team supports over 120 street paper social enterprises in 40 countries. It builds the capacity and sustainability of street papers by providing support and services, including training, access to best practice resources, accreditation and editorial support.

Since INSP was established in 1994, it has helped over 200,000 people living in poverty to improve their lives through selling street papers.

Youth-Led Social Enterprise - Music Theatre 4 Youth

Music Theatre 4 Youth is a social enterprise based in Belfast, providing young people from all backgrounds access to top quality musical theatre training and performance for which there is a limited local provision. This social enterprise has engaged 2,000 young people in the last seven years and all profits are reinvested back into the business.

Evidence of Impact - HCT Group

AT HCT, profits earned from transport contracts are reinvested into services or projects in the communities they serve, and into providing training opportunities for people who are long term unemployed – making a real difference to people’s lives.  HCT Group measures its social impact using a scorecard which is reviewed twice yearly.

In 2011/12, HCT Group provided a total of 296,829 passenger trips for disadvantaged individuals or community group members – a 16% increase from the previous financial year and a net rise of 39,893 trips. The organisation prioritises local procurement and in 2011/12, excluding items where local procurement is not practical (fuel, vehicle leasing and insurance) 43% of it’s spend on suppliers went to areas of economic disadvantage.

Social Entrepreneur - Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell, The SWEET Project

Hulbert and Cresswell set up the SWEET Project in 2010 in Birmingham to deliver high quality work experience placements for 100 social work students and family and child protection support for 600 at risk families. Since 2010 SWEET has worked on 320 child protection cases, and in the last 12 months helped remove 50 families from Local Authority child protection lists. The organisation is growing quickly and will likely replicate to other cities.

Social Enterprise Town - Alston Moor, Cumbria

The Parish of Alston Moor is a small rural community in North Cumbria with a population of 2,100. The first social enterprise was setup in 1983 with 19 social enterprises operating in the community delivering services otherwise not accessible to local people. Over the years, many key services have been cut and because of its small population and isolation, businesses struggle to survive. These issues have stimulated a strong sense of self help and entrepreneurship, resulting in a hot bed of social enterprises and community owned businesses, delivering a range of services including broadband, transport, leisure and tourism. The sector has a combined annual turnover of around £1 million.

Social Enterprise Champion - David Adair

David Adair is Head of Community Affairs at PwC and has been behind the development of a new way for corporate firms to engage with communities. This new model of engagement goes beyond just making philanthropic donations to helping to create and sustain social enterprises. David’s vision led to the development of the 'The Fire Station' social enterprise hub in London, which is now home to SEUK, Blossoms Healthcare, SSE, The Beyond Food Foundation & Brigade Bistro; a restaurant training homeless people in culinary skills. The Fire Station is also home to the Centre for Social Impact, and the Social Entrepreneurs Club.

Finance/Investment Deal - Social Investment Scotland

Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has, since 2001, invested over £43m in 180 social businesses, charitable and community organisations that were unable to access finance from mainstream providers.  This year it invested in a £15m in a joint venture between Neilston Development Trust and Carbon Free Developments Limited – the first windfarm in Scotland to be developed by a commercial company and together with the community.  This is the first deal of its kind bringing together investment from SIS, Big Issue Invest, CAF Venturesome, West of Scotland Loan Fund and a loan from the Scottish Government Green Equity Fund.

Employee/Volunteer - Gillian Gilsenan

Gillian Gilsenan is a resettlement worker for Vision Housing, a social enterprise that helps ex-offenders rebuild their lives.  In 2011, Gillian was supported by Vision Housing.  Once settled, she approached the social enterprise asking to volunteer and after nine months became a full-time paid employee, finding accommodation for clients and helping them to adapt.  Gillian has since been promoted and is also a member of Vision Housing’s board, representing ex-offenders and clients.

Social Enterprise Transition - Accelerate CIC

Accelerate provides a clinic for people who live with chronic wounds or unmanaged lymphoedema, working with Trusts across London and the South East.  Accelerate has successfully transitioned from a small NHS service to an independent business without any reduction in the quality of care to patients.  The social enterprise increased its turnover from £0.91m to £1.16m by the end of its first year.  The business is expanding, and has increased referrals by 21%.

Innovation: best new product/service - Glasgow Credit Union

Glasgow Credit Union is the UK’s largest credit union with 30,000 customers.  Created in 1989, it provides an alternative to the big high-street financial institution.  The credit union identified a gap in the consolidation loan market (borrowing at a lower rate of interest to clear several existing debts at higher rates of interest).  No other lender was providing a consolidation loan with the added benefits: high levels of customer service; no hidden fees; a competitive rate; a straightforward application process; and free loan protection insurance. Committed to promoting good money management, the credit union also encourages its members to save at the same time as re-paying their consolidation loan.

International Social Enterprise - Shenzhen CANYOU Group

CANYOU, which means “Friends of the Disabled,” is a Shenzhen-based software company that employs people with disabilities and helps them start businesses or find jobs.  The co-founder, Zheng Weining, started CANYOU with four friends back in 1997 and the organisation now employs 3,700+ staff.  Now the biggest social enterprise in China, CANYOU runs one foundation, eight organisations and 32 social enterprise branches.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Baroness Glenys Thornton and Jonathan Bland.  Baroness Thornton was the founding Chair of the Social Enterprise Coalition (now SEUK) and a trustee of two social enterprises (Fifteen, Training for Life) as well as many charities.  She also founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on social enterprise.  Jonathan Bland has dedicated his career to supporting social enterprise across Europe.  He was founding CEO of the Social Enterprise Coalition (now SEUK) – where under his leadership social enterprise became a critical part of government policy.

Sponsors of the 2012 Awards are CAN, PwC, BP, The British Council, Nominet Trust, Real Partners CIC, The Co-operative Banking Group, Clearview Systems and Santander. 

Judges for the UK finals:

Kate Markey – CAN, Karen Lynch – Belu, Andy Lowe – Co-options, John McMullan – Bryson Charitable Group (2011 Award Winner), Susan Aktemel – Homes for Good, Mark Graham – PwC, Matt Stevenson-Dodd – Street League and Jeremy Nicholls – The SROI Network.