History of social enterprises in Conwy

Conwy is an area of outstanding landscape ranging from extensive sandy beaches and headlands to sheltered valleys, open moors and rugged mountains. Not surprisingly, its economy relies heavily upon tourism.

Conwy as a County has witnessed over the years a growth in Social Enterprise and Third sector delivery for their local residents. Many Social Enterprises have worked closely with the local authority delivering service contracts. At a time of austerity Social Enterprises are uniquely placed to seek out opportunities for positive change and to further develop relationships and contracts with a focus on value for many and community development.

The Think Tank (Social Enterprise Business Solutions), were established and first met September 2013, Their main purpose is to become the lead ‘voice’ of Social Enterprise in Conwy – to nurture partners and influence local, regional and national policies or funders, to raise the awareness of the good practice and services delivered by Social Enterprise in the area especially at a time of austerity.

Current social enterprise landscape in Conwy

Conwy recently commissioned a Social Enterprise Mapping May 2015, the following are some extracts from the report:

142 social enterprises are currently operating within Conwy. Of these 142 entities, 37 were surveyed as part of the mapping exercise.

Social Enterprise in Conwy delivers a range of services within a number of sectors. Leisure and tourism, health and social care together with education and training were the most prevalent. Some respondents indicated that they operated in more than one sector.

What is clear is that at least 50% of the Social Enterprises canvassed in Conwy are still operating on a relatively low turnover (£10,000 – £30,000). However, it is encouraging to see that 40% of Enterprises have a turnover in excess of £100,000, with four organisations having a turnover in excess of £1,000,000.

It was also found that a substantial number of Social Enterprises do not have any staff and operate entirely using volunteers. The research also showed that almost 22% of those interviewed (one fifth) had no paid staff and were dependant on volunteer input.

Many of the Social Enterprises delver across the whole of Conwy, whole some work further afield across North Wales, all of Wales or the North West. Whilst some work simply at a ward level or area level the findings are extremely positive as it demonstrates that Social Enterprise are seeking wider markets then simply their locale.

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Key objectives over the coming year

1. To influence, and develop the awareness of Social Enterprise as a worthwhile partnership with the local authority – Conwy County Borough Council

2. For Social Enterprises to collaborate to identify and explore actions and potential work from ‘Social Enterprise Review’

3. To influence and encourage the local authorities Procurement to adopt strategies and processes that prioritise engagement with social enterprises.

Stakeholder Group

Social Enterprise Business Solutions is a ‘Think Tank’, made up of eight members from long standing, small to large Social Enterprises within Conwy

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Contact details

Ann B. Carroll – Conwy County Borough Council