This blog was written by Gareth Hart, Director, Iridescent Ideas CIC and Chair, Plymouth Social Enterprise Network.

Last week I spoke at the national Social Enterprise Summit in Salford. The event brought together representatives from all 26 social enterprise places in the country. North, south, east and west there are now nearly 10 million people living in a social enterprise city, town, county, village or zone in the UK. Salford contains one of the fastest growing economic areas in the UK – MediaCityUK is home to BBC, ITV and many others. However, it is also next door to areas with serious poverty. A warning to us all that we must seek inclusive growth that brings benefits to all.

We went on a tour of several local social enterprises including the wonderful Start Creative – I urge you to buy their chopping boards and Lowryesque figures. Peter Holbrook, CEO of SEUK, gave a typically barnstorming speech and Claire Dove, previously chair of SEUK, now the Crown representative for the Voluntary, Community and Social enterprise sector delivered a deeply personal story of her experiences of prejudice and her path to leading in social enterprise. We heard about the many women who now lead over 50% of social enterprise start-ups and from Aditya Chakrabortty, whose recent Guardian article shone a spotlight on Plymouth.

I was inspired by the work of the many social enterprise places across the country. These 26 places are the leading lights of a new economy. There is tremendous variety of work happening from strategic, policy engagement to practical action with the grassroots. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. There is still much to do to make social enterprise central to the way we do business in Plymouth and across the country.  As places we need to deliver more for our social enterprises and ultimately for our communities.

Please let us know too about how being a Social Enterprise Place has helped you!