Business and Economy

Social enterprises invited to join regional network

Map of Southwest

Posted on: 10 August 2020

Social enterprises in Devon and Somerset have praised a partnership that has supported them during the Covid-19 pandemic – and now they are encouraging others to sign up.

The Enhance Social Enterprise Network Devon & Somerset was created to support the development of social enterprises across Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset.

Enhance ERDF

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

Like traditional businesses, Social Enterprises aim to make a profit – but Social Enterprises use some of those profits to do social good.

As with other businesses, Social Enterprises have been struggling with reduced income and the uncertainty surrounding consumer habits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This uncertainty has led to Social Enterprises signing up to the network in increasing numbers – membership has increased from 170 to 389 in just a few months.

Rosemary Heath Coleman, Chair, of the Queen Camel Community Land Trust Ltd said: “It was the network that made us aware of the government’s grant relevant to us to cover income lost due to the Covid 19 lockdown. We successfully applied. The staff have always been great supporters and encouragers, and this is especially valued now. It’s so encouraging to know that we are not alone.”

Another member, JoJo Spinks, Director of Interwoven Productions CIC, said: “On joining, the experience has been like coming home to people who understand your endeavour and who are excited by attempts to find new and innovative ways of doing things.
“It’s been so refreshing. I was particularly thrilled to be asked to speak and to contribute to two online events, resulting in lots of new leads and contacts. The team are friendly, knowledgeable and excited about new ideas. I’m so glad we joined.”

The Enhance Social Enterprise Network manager Geraldine Addo said: “Members have access to virtual networking, skills sharing webinars and advice and support.
“I have no doubt that the high level of support available to members and that members can tap into the knowledge and experiences of other members has led to a surge of applications.”

Social enterprises who sign up for membership of one of the networks can also showcase their business on the Enhance Social Enterprise Network online map, which highlights the range of goods and services provided across Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for economy and skills said: “Social enterprises and community interest companies are amongst those who were able to respond rapidly to their communities needs during the Covid 19 lockdown.
“A dynamic social enterprise sector will be an important part of a more resilient and inclusive economy post Covid-19. The Enhance Social Enterprise Network and their members are important to “Building Back Better” as the social values that underpin their businesses contribute significantly to the ‘Team Devon’ aim to build strong communities.
“By becoming members individual social enterprises become more than the sum of their parts to enable them to work towards a more inclusive economy.”

To join the Network and get a listing on the map social enterprises should visit the Enhance Social Enterprise website HERE.

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