I hope you were all able to enjoy some of the glorious weather over the Bank Holiday weekend – I certainly did. Some of it was in a very sunny Blackpool where I was attending the very glamorous and inspirational Selnet’s Enterprise in Society Awards 2018 – thank you Liz and the awesome Selnet team – it was great to be with you all. It’s fantastic to see the passion and energy our sector embodies in every region of our country.

It gives me great pleasure to say a very warm welcome to all those new members that have joined us in the past month or so. If you are one of our 400 or so new members, we – and that’s all of us, not only here at SEUK but I’m sure all of your fellow members too - are delighted you have decided to come on board so we can work together to support each other, and to be louder and stronger as a voice and as a sector. The more of us there are, the more diverse our organisations and what they do, the better our chance of success as we continually engage with both the government and the opposition to ensure social enterprises move ever higher up the political agenda.

A huge thanks to the teams in the three SEUK Places I have been to in the past month. I was in Oxford for a great evening catching up with old friends, and making some new  –  thanks to Grant and everyone there. It was really good to hear from Anneliese Dodds MP (Oxford East)  who is a huge supporter of our sector. Next up was Salford City where Jon Monk, Alison Page and the team hosted one of our bi-annual Places events followed by dinner and then a social enterprise summit at Salford University. Thanks to everyone who came and contributed to make the event such a resounding success. Then it was on to Scarborough to launch one of our newest SEUK Places - Yorkshire Coast. Amazing hospitality from Mel and David at Coast and Vale Community Action in Scarborough at their incredible community hub, ‘The Street’  alongside great visits to a social enterprise fish and chippy, the Seafood Social’ and cycling social enterprise  Scarborough and Ryedale Cycling Club CIC who are based in a 19th century, former prison  made for a memorable trip – and the sun shone the whole time!

A big shout out to Birmingham City – our very latest SEUK Place. A whole host of amazing events went on during the last week of April with Sarah from ISE and her team leading the way from Digbeth – already a Place, and now with a big sister Place in the great city of Birmingham itself.  More news of Birmingham will be forthcoming!

I was also in Belfast for the Social Enterprise NI Social Economy Stakeholder Forum which was great to be part of…many thanks to Colin and his team and all the social enterprises doing great work across the sea.  It was a good opportunity to hear what some of our members, including GLL and Employers for Childcare, are working on in and around Belfast. A special mention for Marie (who heads the latter) – we shared speaking platforms on consecutive days, first in Westminster as we celebrated the start of the third year of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, and then in Belfast the following day. Great company!

I hope that you are all on top of the changes that GDPR is bringing in – we are working hard here to make sure we are doing what needs to be done, and it’s quite a challenge…so if it doesn’t seem plain sailing to you, don’t think you are on your own!

As always as I sign off I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the great work you all do, every day, month in month out making this world a better place. We are living through really challenging times, in lots of different ways, but knowing that there are social enterprises beavering away in every community and round every corner never fails to put a smile on my face.

Have a good month, and see you in June.