And so, we’re around 100 days into the calendar year and a few days into the new financial year. Really, where does the time go? SEUK’s finance team are still crunching the figures for last year, but it looks like we have had a good one – our membership is now nearly 1500 and we continue to make a decent, albeit hard-fought-for, profit. Our continued growth means that we can keep on supporting the great work that you do and continue to build the social enterprise movement through initiatives like our research reports, the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, Social Saturday, Social Enterprise Places, and our work around the reform of commissioning within public sector procurement.

Next week we’ll be celebrating the start of year three of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, a commitment by big businesses to collectively spend £1bn with social enterprises. We work with the corporate members of the Challenge to help them understand social enterprise and assist them to incorporate social enterprises in the supply chains. I’m looking forward to welcoming some exciting new members to the Challenge next week and every new corporate member means we can help more social enterprises grow their businesses, and most importantly, grow their impact. We’ve seen many of our members win millions of pounds of new business because of this initiative but there’s still lots more scope to do much more. Brexit, globalisation, economic uncertainty, housing crises, the growth in inequalities – these macroeconomic issues will ensure that your work becomes ever more important and your sector voice ever more relevant.

I’m delighted that Jo Pritchard has formally joined us this week. Having led CSH Surrey for over a decade, Jo is hugely knowledgeable and respected and will support our work on behalf of those of you working in health and social care, and more broadly those of you working to deliver services to the public in whatever industry. Claire Mansfield has also joined the team to head up our new research department. Improving our evidence base is crucial to us winning the argument that social enterprise models are critical to the future health and wellbeing of our country, our economy and our communities. We believe, just as our chair, Lord Victor Adebowale has emphasised that “social enterprise is the future of business”. We’re excited by turning this ambition and vision into reality.

Last month saw us revise our membership bands. Thanks for your enthusiastic support - offering free membership to social enterprises with a turnover of under £100k really helps ensure that we are truly inclusive and even more representative of the social enterprise movement. The response has been fantastic both from our existing members and from our new joiners. For those of you who continue to pay for your membership - a heartfelt thank you from me. Your continued investment in SEUK means that we can do our bit to help nurture the next generation of social enterprises and keep that talent flowing into the sector.

Everyone here at SEUK has great admiration for your achievements, often in harsh circumstances - don’t hesitate to let us know where we hit the spot and where we’re wide of the mark. SEUK remains your organisation and as we begin to think about the strategy needed for the next 5 years or so, your insights are both appreciated and instructive.

Have a great April and see you soon,

Peter Holbrook CBE.