Social Enterprise Places: What difference can it make to my community?

Posted: 02 March 2020, in News

As the deadline approaches for the first round of Scotland’s Social Enterprise Places programme we wanted to answer a question that’s cropped up at all of our recent local events: What difference can Social Enterprise Places make to my community?

As a result we contacted recipients of the Places accolade from across the border to share some of the feedback from existing Places…

Plymouth was recognised as a hotspot for social enterprise activity back in 2013. There are around 150 social enterprises and Plymouth University has been recognised as the world’s first officially certified ‘social enterprise’ university. The sector here employs around 7,000 people and has an income of over £500 million.

There’s also a burgeoning economy of smaller businesses where 1 in 3 have a turnover of under £50,000. Plymouth’s Social Enterprise City badge has helped to lever in over £6 million of investment and support for social enterprises in the city from national and local sources – and has led to the Council developing commissioning and procurement policies for social value.

While at a village level the total level of resources attracted may be less Alston Moor, a rural community in North Cumbria with a population of 2,090, were also keen to ensure that social enterprise activity in their community was recognised.

Alston Moor has a diverse range of social enterprises and community owned businesses, delivering services from retail, broadband, transport, leisure, tourism and community services, most of which would otherwise not be accessible by local people.

The sector has a combined annual turnover of around £1.5M and employs around 50 people, with a further 250 volunteers also contributing to the running of the various enterprises. This equals one social enterprise per 55 households. Keen to capitalise on their Places status Alston Moor has been running ‘Social Enterprise Safaris’ for a number of years and has hosted groups from British Council delegations visiting from China.

Walking tours were also a feature of the Birmingham Place offer, an initiative that started first with the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter in Dec 2013. As part of the Digbeth action plan it was identified that there was an aspiration to launch Birmingham as a Social Enterprise City within the next 5 years – an ambition that was achieved building on the Digbeth success and experience.

Speaking at the Birmingham City Places launch in 2018 Sarah Crawley, CEO of iSE CIC (Birmingham Places lead) noted:

“Since Digbeth became registered as a Social Enterprise Quarter we have seen a rise in the number of social enterprises start-ups, an increase in sustainable social enterprises that are actively scaling and growing, improvements in social investment and funding options coming in to the area, and huge diversification in the products and services being delivered by social enterprises. It’s a hugely vibrant sector and an exciting time for both Birmingham and the social enterprise sector.”

Birmingham now has the largest number of social enterprises outside of London (564 identified in baseline survey).

There are now 28 Places recognised across the UK but knowing that Scotland has a vibrant social enterprise community, Social Enterprise Scotland is keen that we can add more Places in Scotland to the map – building on the brilliant initial recognition in Callander in 2018.

The first deadline for applications to the Scotland Social Enterprise Places programme closes on 16 March and we’re keen to hear more about local hotspots for impact and activity across Scotland.

You can find more information about the programme here or email:

We look forward to receiving your applications!