Oxfordshire has become the first county in Britain to be officially named a ‘Social Enterprise Place’ by Social Enterprise UK, in recognition of the area’s growing social economy.
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Social enterprises are businesses that trade with a mission to tackle issues like poverty, unemployment or environmental destruction. They reinvest their profits to achieve social good.
The national body for social enterprises praised Oxfordshire’s varied initiatives, such as the community energy group Low Carbon Hub and the Yellow Submarine Café, which offers employment opportunities to young people with disabilities.
Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK, said, “As a social enterprise place, Oxfordshire is being recognised for re-injecting life into local communities across the county, creating opportunities and local wealth, and changing lives for the better.”
Having received the honour, Oxfordshire will now host a series of events this month and will mark the UK’s first Social Saturday, Social Enterprise UK’s nationwide awareness raising event, on September 13.
A 2013 industry survey from Social Enterprise UK found that many people are not aware of the existence of social enterprises, even though around 70,000 are operating in Britain today.
With support from the Cabinet Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Social Saturday will work to change that.
Prime minister David Cameron, whose constituency of Whitney is in Oxfordshire, said, “It’s fantastic that Oxfordshire is the first county to become a Social Enterprise Place – a beacon of social enterprise activity.
“Social Saturday is a great way to raise awareness of the vital and growing role social enterprises play in our economy and local communities in Oxfordshire and across the country. Social enterprises trade to tackle some of the greatest challenges we face, from unemployment to food waste.”
Social enterprises hoping to take part on Saturday can download a campaign pack to help promote the event. Social Saturday’s website also showcases a variety of social enterprises, ranging from a beer brand that donates all profits to cancer research to a car sharing scheme.
According to the latest figures from the Royal Bank of Scotland’s SE100 index, which tracks their performance, social enterprises raised £2.9 billion last year for a vast range of worthy causes.