Winners of the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2021
The UK Social Enterprise Awards took place on 8 December at the Guildhall in central London. It was hosted by comedian Suzie Ruffell.
UK Social Enterprise of the Year (sponsored by NatWest)
Judge’s comments – “Passion and commitment shone through the application. Locavore has seen phenomenal growth and has made a commitment to its whole staff team finding innovative ways to put them to meaningful work.”
Locavore exists to build sustainable food networks which are better for the environment, society, local communities and their economies. It is creating an alternative model to the supermarket controlled food system centred on fairness, environmental sustainability and community wealth building.
Since starting in 2011 it has grown to run three local, organic and zero waste supermarkets in Glasgow with plans to get to ten branches in the next two years. It delivers its Locavore Vegboxes to around 1,800 customers and runs a wholesale arm supplying other independent wholesalers in the UK. It also grows its own organic vegetables and flowers. Combined all aspects of its work have created a genuine alternative food network to supermarket shopping for thousands of people. Locavore now employs around 100 people, all of whom earn at least the real living wage. It is also a major market itself for local producers which includes many social enterprises.
Over the last year Locavore managed to keep all staff in employment throughout the pandemic, upped its emergency food provision to those in need and created more local jobs. It also successfully opened its second and third branches.
One to Watch (sponsored by GLL)
Fink Street Food
Judge’s comments – “Doing so much for a young organisation, tackling food waste, giving 50% of profits to causes tackling mental issues and this last year have demonstrated their entrepreneurialism, reacting to new regulations by pivoting their business model and developing an impressive list of new customers.”
Fink Street Food is a social enterprise street food and events caterer on a mission to smash mental health stigma, one bite at a time. Fink trades at food markets such as Blue Collar market in Reading and also has a residency at The Globe Pub in Newbury, using its platform to share positive mental health messages. They re-invest 50% of their profits into community mental health support services such as the delivery of mental health counseling for young people. They are also committing to reducing waste but in a way which further supports the communities they work in – redistributing surplus food to feed people who are homeless through a partnership with the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Over lockdown, Fink launched a home delivery service where every meal sold was matched with a donation to the soup kitchen. They also created a click and collect take away service and saw remarkable revenue growth of over 2000% since the start of the pandemic.
Fink Street Food
Prove It: Social Impact (sponsored by Linklaters)
Judge’s comments – “information in the application was brilliant and well evidenced on how they met the criteria. Scale of impact and change to community was clear and it went above and beyond food and care packages – taking their Community Hub virtual, as well as helping people back into work and education.”
This category is for social enterprises that can truly demonstrate and communicate their impact with their stakeholders. Community Shop is a social enterprise set up to support individuals and communities by providing access to deeply discounted food and also delivering wrap-around support through personal development services. Surplus food and household products are sold by Community Shop at a discount and revenue raised is invested in their Community Hub and Community Kitchen. The Hub runs training and personal development programmes and Community Kitchen acts as both a provider of quality low-cost meals and a hub for a events and family activities.
Community Shop is a social enterprise committed to being transparent about the impact it is making, and this is reflected both in its annual impact report and the showcase days it runs for stakeholders who get to visit the social enterprise’s stores, community hubs and kitchens. In the last year, Community Shop has supported over 10,000 people, delivered 125,000 food care parcels and helped 701 people back into work. During lockdowns it took its Community Hub online with online programmes being accessed over 257,000 times.
Buy Social Market Builder (sponsored by PwC)
John Sisk and Son
Judge’s Comments – “In the difficult circumstances of the pandemic, and with lots of businesses struggling, it was still able to support this mission totally, ensuring a chain of support for social enterprises in challenging times.”
This award is for an organisation committing to buying from and building markets for social enterprises. John Sisk and Son is an innovative, international construction and engineering company founded in Ireland in 1859 and which opened its first UK office in 1984. It joined Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge in 2020 committing to open up its supply chain to social enterprise suppliers. This formed an aspect of the company’s 2030 Sustainability Roadmap – part of which committed to a 5% increase in added Social Return on Investment year-on-year against its 2019 baseline.
Since joining the Buy Social Corporate Challenge it has increased its engagement with social enterprises by 50%, spending over £439,000 with social enterprises in 2020. As well as buying from social enterprises in areas from waste services to office fruit supplies, Sisk is also committed to increasing its employees’ engagement with the social enterprise sector.
Social Investment Deal of the Year (sponsored by Big Society Capital)
Social Investment Business and Big Society Capital
Judge’s comments – “This deal showed a responsiveness to the needs of organisations during the pandemic, involving partnership work with other social investors who all came together to serve the needs of the social enterprise sector. There are businesses that might not be here today without the speedy, affordable support provided by this deal.”
This category recognises a specific social investment deal which has helped a social enterprise to grow or the movement as a whole to develop and flourish. The winner of this year’s Award is one which has benefited many social enterprises over the course of the pandemic, keeping businesses afloat and helping them recover – the Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund (RRLF).
The RRLF was created by the Social Investment Business (SIB) and Big Society Capital (BSC) in April 2020, and was set up in record time to provide access for social enterprises and charities to the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. It also provided crucial working capital to help maintain financial resilience during the pandemic and to preserve jobs and the continuation of the vital services social enterprises provide. RRLF has helped secure over 9,000 jobs in the sector and helped ensure that essential services kept running.
Social Investment Business and Big Society Capital
Health and Social Care Social Enterprise (sponsored by Johnson & Johnson)
Community Dental Services
Judge’s comments – “A standout application, we need CDS everywhere. CDS offers a professional design led service for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. It works with vulnerable patients including the homeless, people reliant on foodbanks and those special needs, making the journey easier for them. What they achieved in the context of COVID was remarkable”
Community Dental Services CIC (CDS) is an employee owned social enterprise dentist with a mission to improve oral health in evermore communities, striving to ensure everybody has access to dental care. They are commissioned by the NHS and local authorities to deliver both dental services and education when care cannot be met in a general dental practice. This means working with people with particular physical or mental health challenges which prevent them from accessing care or people who cannot access dental services such as people experiencing homelessness or those in prison.
It works across the East and West Midlands in 54 locations from dental clinics and prisons to community oral health practices. It also operates mobile dental health clinics to take care out into communities. During the pandemic it established a tele-dentistry programme from scratch in a month and opened 9 urgent dental care centres being proactive in the face of delayed national guidance.
Community Dental Services
Consumer Facing Social Enterprise (sponsored by eBay)
Judge’s comments – “A clear winner. Change Please have had a fantastic year despite issues around Covid including launching overseas in France and the USA. They have a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve and how they can do that. They are an exemplar to the business community as a whole, showing you can be successful, have a social purpose and still grow.”
Since its launch in 2015 Change Please have grown to become one of the UK’s best known social enterprises. Their mission is to strive for a world in which there is no homelessness and to achieve this they created their ‘jobs first’ impact model – training people experiencing homelessness as baristas whilst supporting them with mental wellbeing support and accommodation as well as support onto further employment. This year they have spread this model to France and the USA.
They sell their coffee wholesale and in supermarkets as well as direct to the public from their cafes and stalls. At the height of the pandemic they set up vans outside Nightingale hospitals in London, Manchester and in Wales, distributing free coffees to NHS workers during the first lockdown.
Recently they took over the operation of all 55 AMT coffee sites in the UK, which included locations at prominent train stations. They have even won a contract to supply coffee to 10 Downing St.
Education, Training and Jobs Social Enterprise (sponsored by ISG)
Judge’s comments – “A social enterprise that has gone beyond their usual remit to deliver more impact. They are still very small and clearly a business in competition with other providers but they’ve thoroughly embedded impact in business across all areas. Radiant Cleaners have been able to get people into employment with very low skills.”
Radiant Cleaners is a Nottingham based social enterprise whose primary purpose is to employ people with barriers to work including ex-offenders, people who have experienced homelessness, ex-addicts, people who’ve suffered domestic abuse and who’ve struggled with mental health challenges.
They are a social enterprises looking to transform the cleaning industry – paying all their team the real Living Wage in an industry where low pay and exploitation is common. Offering a secure job is only part of what Radiant Cleaners do – they also provide wider support signposting staff to other agencies such as debt counselling or English lessons and they also have optional 1:1 mentoring with each employees.
They’ve won work with national organisations such as the Royal College of Nursing and the National Education Union as well as a whole host of local Nottingham based businesses. At the height of lockdown, which saw 95% of their work vanish overnight, they still managed to pay their team 100% of their pre-Covid wages.
Environmental Social Enterprise (sponsored by Landmarc)
Judge’s comments – “NEMI are dedicated to full supply chain transparency having both a social and environmental impact. They’ve survived the impact of Covid on their main customer base, and employing refugees is absolutely necessary and vital at the moment. They are also delivering amazing environmental impact.”
NEMI Teas is a specialist London-based tea company which provides employment to refugees, giving them local work experience and job readiness skills. Their products are sold in over 300 stockists across the UK and are also spreading to mainland Europe. Over the past 5 years they have sold over 8 million teabags and supported 20 refugees into work.
NEMI are dedicated to tackling two of the biggest environmental challenges in the tea industry – plastic pollution and destructive agricultural practices. All NEMI’s products and packaging are plastic-free with their distinctive pyramid tea bags being 100% biodegradable. Their packaging is packed in NatureFlex films which are based on cellulose. To combat irresponsible agricultural practices they have become an Organic-certified company. NEMI even have a partnership with UCL’s Innovation Hub which carries out research into raising industry standards.
Judge’s comments – “Commons Law are challenging the criminal justice system and there’s huge upcoming need for this type of service. Their work challenging the legal system is much needed and they are there for communities, providing representation for minority groups.”
Commons Law is a social enterprise specialist criminal law-firm based in Lambeth which provides high quality legal services for vulnerable people. They represent individuals with complex needs in the criminal justice system, helping them to also identify and access further support through their co-designed Crisis Navigation service. This service, which began in 2020, operates alongside their legal defence work and provides holistic support during and beyond individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system. This service has worked with 31 clients over a 9-month period making 127 referrals to external services.
Commons Law are dedicated to not just representing marginalised clients but also to challenge injustices within the justice system. In 2019 they decided to tackle the implementation of the hostile environment in the criminal courts. They specifically focused on the ‘nationality requirement’ – which compelled all defendants in criminal proceedings to declare their nationality. This brought the issue of race into the courtroom – undermining the rule of law and perceptions of fairness. Their work was pivotal in getting this requirement abolished in March this year. Commons have also worked with the Migrant Law Project to develop best practice to prevent the criminalisation of young people subject to immigration control.
Women in Social Enterprise (sponsored by Social Partnerships Portal)
Yvonne Farquharson – Breathe Arts Health Research
Judge’s comments – “A really strong category, choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. Yvonne’s work at Breathe has shown resilience, tenacity and a commitment to female leadership.”
Breathe design and deliver creative programmes, underpinned by scientific research, to improve health and wellbeing. They are a leading authority in the arts and health sector and are one of the first arts and health companies to be recognised for their work by NHS England. Annually their work reaches over 37,000 people across over 80 healthcare locations.
Yvonne Farquharson is the Founder and Managing Director of Breathe and has built the social enterprise up from running it in her spare time using her first ever laptop, purchased through a start-up grant, to the internationally recognised social enterprise it now is. It has not been a smooth journey and she was met with resistance by some as she developed new ways of working and entrepreneurial ideas. Yvonne has also experienced serious health issues which resulted in her running the social enterprise from hospital. Breathe survived through the challenges of Yvonne’s ill health but a few months after she came back to lead the organisation COVID hit. She successfully navigated Breath through the pandemic, redesigning programmes and creating COVID response work.
Yvonne has helped change perceptions of arts within the health sector. Their perseverance paved the way for other arts and health organisation to work with the NHS. Her dedication to the sector, to her team and to principles of diversity and inclusion have been recognised through the UK Social Enterprise Award.
Yvonne Farquharson – Breathe Arts Health Research
International Impact (sponsored by the British Council)
Judge’s comments – “Expanded this year into new territories and swiftly delivering impact in those new areas with a tailored and specific approach. They’re also receiving international recognition for their work.”
auticon is a social enterprise which exclusively employs autistic adults as IT consultants, working to shift perceptions of autistic adults in the workplace. It works with corporate clients to create autism-positive work environments, offering individualised sustained support to autistic employees. This allows businesses to tap into the amazing talents of autistic people and helps create well paid, long-term careers for auticon’s team. auticon’s IT experts are employed on a permanent basis and work at the social enterprise’s clients on specific projects. These clients include well known big corporates including PwC, Zurich, Deloitte and KPMG. auticon currently employs over 200 people on the autism spectrum.
auticon now has international offices in Germany, the USA, Canada, France, Switzerland, Italy and Australia. Some international highlights from the last year include the launch of auticon Italy which now works with clients such as Poste Italiene, Air Liquide and Credit Suisse; auticon France opening its second office in Toulouse; expansion auticon Switzerland’s client pool and the growth of auticon Canada. auticon also opened its first office in Sydney, Australia partnering with the continents’ largest employer Woolworth’s as its landmark client.
Transformative Community Business (sponsored by Corps Security)
Judge’s comments – “Glyn Wylfa is a great example of a social enterprise very much geared to creating economic opportunity in less advantaged rural communities – by creating jobs, services and even cultural benefits such as promotion of the Welsh language”
Glyn Wylfa is located in the Ceiriog valley above a designated World Heritage site in Wales. Redundant Council premises were converted into an 80 seater café and modern office accommodation for local businesses. The café, Caffi Wylfa also operates as a community hub and tourist information centre with Glyn Wylfa house renting out its 11 rooms to a whole range of businesses as well as housing the local police station. Its mission is to act for “for the benefit of the local community” and this was brought to the fore during the pandemic.
They worked with their tenants to implement rent holidays and write offs as well as giving advice on forms of support, increased their donations to local charities (including their partner charity – Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham) and also invested in a delivery van to continue to provide food to the community and in July built and outdoor Gazebo area. It is a social enterprise at the heart of its community – using its profits to invest in service delivery and to distribute to local charities.
Social Enterprise Team of the Year (Sponsored by Compass Group)
Judge’s comments – “P3 – teams from all level looking after people and focusing on impact through people, inclusion and equity of access. The leadership and team truly live their vales – just flipping amazing!”
P3 which stands for People, Potential, Possibilities, is a national social enterprise and charity operating across the UK delivering services for socially excluded and vulnerable people. It specialises in homelessness services, supported housing, services for people recovering from mental ill-health, community support, justice services and youth services. It’s theory of change focuses on three pillars – somewhere to live, someone to love and something to do.
Its core values inform P3’s #OneTeam approach which saw the social enterprise react to the pandemic head-on, continuing to deliver new or improved services to the people and communities it serves. In total this #OneTeam supported 28,500 people in the last year. Just a few of the services provided by the P3 team over the last year included delivering 3,106 food parcels; re-housing 361 single people and 12 families; running a street outreach team; delivering homemade meals to people living in hotels; move on packs and furniture for people who were rehoused and also the provision of mobile phones to people in isolation.
Incredibly the P3 #OneTeam have helped 3,195 people exit the streets, including helping 918 people access accommodation during the national ‘Everyone-In’ campaign.
Tech for Good: Technology Social Enterprise (sponsored by SAP)
Judge’s comments – “Had massive impact throughout Covid by addressing digital inclusion, providing IT care packages so people had access to tablets and data. They have also shown innovative use of Crowdfunding. Homelessness is a major crisis of our time and it is good to see innovative use of tech to tackle the issue.”
Beam is the first crowdfunding platform to support people experiencing homelessness into stable jobs and homes. It partners with over 40 charities and with local authorities in London who refer people to the social enterprise which then provides each person with a dedicated caseworker. Beam’s crowdfunding platform allows people to raise money to support people with things such as job training, deposits and work tools. To date
Beam has supported over 350 people into stable jobs and has moved over 50 families into the private rental sector.
During the pandemic, Beam switched all its services to operating remotely and it launched its Emergency Coronavirus Fund to send care packages to 300 homeless families. It used its crowdfunding technology to issue laptops, tablets and WiFi dongles to allow children to continue with schoolwork as well as helping people access food, clothing and cleaning supplies. This project ran for four months distributing £152,337 of vouchers and items to 617 people. Beam’s product and engineering team also expanded their ‘Beam Hub’ – an online portal to support people find work containing advice, resources and prospective employers.