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UK PM Praises Social Sector Organisations



The second ever Social Investment Awards were held in London this week. The awards are a yearly event which showcase the successes and growth in the industry. Prime Minister David Cameron supports the awards which he says “celebrate forces of social change in our country.”

The Social Investment Awards, which reward people and organisations that have contributed to growing the UK social investment market, were held in London on Tuesday May 3rd. The event celebrates success and showcases areas where investment supports social businesses to succeed and grow, making a real difference to people’s lives.

Social investment can accelerate the growth of new businesses, transform the impact of our public services and support stronger communities to tackle the social challenges that they face. These investments have helped to address a huge variety of problems from improving mental health to supporting women’s aid.

The awards, run in partnership with Cabinet Office and NatWest and supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, hope to encourage other investors to get involved with social investment, supporting charities and social enterprises so they can continue making a difference to millions of lives across the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Social investment has the potential to transform lives and these awards, now in their second year, celebrate forces for social change in our country. Whether it is helping prisoners turn over a new leaf upon release, reducing youth unemployment or tackling poverty, these projects are using finance to get to grips with some of the most difficult social problems facing us here and around the world.

“I want to congratulate everyone involved for your excellent work and the social impact you are helping to deliver.”

The 2016 shortlist showcases the great work being done across the UK, from providing transport to those in need to improving the career prospects of young people.

Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director of NatWest Business Banking, said: “The winners of this year’s Social Investment Awards have all demonstrated the value that social investment can bring to growing social enterprises and, in turn, to building local communities and economies. I have been truly impressed by the calibre of not only the winners, but to all the entrants this year, and I hope they can encourage and inspire further investment projects and the growth of this highly important sector.”

Winners on the night included Career Connect and Bridge Ventures who won the Public Service Transformation award which recognises a social investment deal that has improved public services in the north west of England.

Career Connect is a charity providing career-focused guidance, advice and support across Greater Merseyside. Bridges Ventures backed this charity via a social impact bond (SIB) in 2012, and again in 2015. Career Connect have surpassed their target of 3,928 and successfully improved the employability, as rated by Department of Work and Pensions, of 4,270 young people.

The Social Entrepreneurs Investment award was presented to Social and Sustainable Capital and Spacious Place Contact (SASC). Last year SASC gave a £1.5 million loan to Spacious Place Contact (SPC), an innovative start-up business, specialising in the support, training and employment of local people across Burnley and Greater Manchester. SPC pride themselves on employing people regardless of their background, including approximately 25% of people coming out of HM Forest Bank Prison.

Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund (SEF) was awarded the Institutional social investment award after their unique investment model has seen an additional £36 million invested after its original commitment of £14 million. The social investments that Bridges’ SEF support have delivered a wide range of projects including: helping 3,400 young people gain qualifications; providing 2.2 million hours of at home care; and assisting 4,700 previously unemployed people into work.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, said: “I’m thrilled to see successful social investment intermediaries and social enterprises being recognised and celebrated at this year’s Social Investment Awards.

“The UK is a world leader in social investment and it is fantastic to see hundreds of people all working together to remain at the forefront of this innovative sector. With the support of government, social investment is already making a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people throughout the country, helping us to build a more compassionate society.”

Other winners included the Social Investment Scotland (SIS) Community Capital Fund who won the New Social Investors award for their pilot fund that would benefit investors from the Social Investment Tax Relief, targeting high net worth individuals. They successfully increased the supply of affordable finance and they also conducted research on the motives and appetite of investors. SIS Community Capital’s approach has successfully raised £399,000 from 27 investors within 3 months. In addition, their research provides great insight into how to get more individuals involved in social investment.

Ethex scooped the Market Building award, for an organisation that has demonstrated innovative and diverse ways to grow the social investment market in the UK.

Ethex is the only positive retail investment and savings platform in the UK and has helped grow the social investment market in the UK. All the businesses on the platform have a clear social or environmental mission at their heart, from fairtrade and organic farming, to tackling poverty. The website was launched in January 2013, it has over 7,500 registered users and raised over £28 million for 53 social businesses, charities and community organisations.

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