SEUK Social Enterprise Awards 2022 – Open for Applications!

Applications are now open for the 2022 UK Social Enterprise Awards

The SEUK Awards are the biggest celebration of the year in the social enterprise calendar, recognising the best in the sector – both organisations for their business excellence and contribution to society, as well as the incredible individuals who work at the heart of the social enterprise movement.

SEUK Social Enterprise Awards 2022There are a total of 15 categories at this year’s Awards which capture the breadth, diversity and impact of the social enterprise community. As well as the award for overall Social Enterprise of the Year and the ‘One-to-Watch Award’ recognising a pioneering start-up business there are also more specific categories for social enterprises working in particular areas such as healthcare or in providing education, training and jobs. There are also awards for social enterprises tackling the climate crisis and those leading the way in promoting diversity, inclusion, equity and justice across their work.

Organisations which support the growth and development of the social enterprise sector can apply for the ‘Buy Social Market Builder’ Award and there is also a category recognising the Social Investment Deal of the Year.

Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony taking place on 8 December 2022 at the iconic Roundhouse in Camden, London.

Click here to find out more and to apply – Applications close on 1 July 2022.

If you’ve any questions about the application process, please contact

Good luck!

APPG Inquiry into the impact of COVID on social enterprises

Great to hear from Charles Courtenay (Earl of Devon) Liz Minns Social Enterprise UK Karen Lynch (nee Borsberry-Woods) Lindsey Hall Real Ideas Organisation as some of the Panelists at the #APPG Inquiry Report Launch on behalf of Lucy Findlay MBE who contributed to the #socialenterpise sector evidencing on behalf of Social Enterprise Mark CIC and #SE_Mark Holders.

The role of the Inquiry was to investigate the impact of COVID on social enterprises and what lessons can be learned.

The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises experienced the pandemic in a unique way having to balance both increased demand from those people they support and pressure on their business. Many adapted their business models and pivoted to support their communities at a faster rate than their peers.

The inquiry identified four key themes during the course of its work.

  1. Lack of understanding of social enterprise across HM Government
  2. The importance of place-based working and local delivery
  3. The vital contribution of social enterprises to public services
  4. The substantial opportunity for social enterprises to contribute to the UK’s recovery and levelling up after the pandemic

Resonant themes include localism, joined up working, social economy and move of #socent to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)… lots to unpack, well worth a read.

📔 3 mins and a good ☕️

READ MORE and download the full report:
Inquiry into the impact of COVID on social enterprises » Social Enterprise UK

New Economy Alliance logos

Lobbying government for improved access to financial support

In response to feedback on the difficulties experienced by many social enterprises in accessing Covid-19 financial support, we are working with our social economy partners to influence the government to ensure that these support packages are available to support social businesses through this crisis.

These businesses are playing a crucial role for our communities in this pandemic. They are easing the pressure on frontline health and care services by producing PPE, facilitating online education and training, providing mental health support, and much more. It is also clear that the pandemic will continue to affect us all for many more months and social entrepreneurs need to be equipped and supported to keep doing their important work for the long-term.

Last week, we sent a letter* to Minister John Glen (Economic Secretary to the Treasury), raising our concerns that many vital services are in danger of being lost unless access to emergency finance is improved.

Back in the autumn, we collected feedback from the social sector, which showed there were some fundamental gaps and challenges in accessing the vital financial support being offered by the government. In particular, we looked at how easy it was for social businesses to navigate the government emergency loan schemes – Bounce Back Loans (BBLs) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs).

The results of our survey, and consistent anecdotal evidence from social enterprises, co-operatives and community businesses, showed us that there are two key obstacles blocking access to government-backed loans:

  1. Many ethical and social banks that social enterprises bank with do not provide Bounce Back Loans
  2. Social enterprises are not able to open new accounts with participating banks

The waiting times to open new accounts are being quoted as months rather than weeks, and some businesses are being turned away by the banks responsible for delivering these loans.

These delays are being further exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure for social enterprises, as many of these businesses have complex bank mandates and ‘out of the ordinary’ legal structures, which require special channels to process loans. A 12 week wait for a loan could be the difference between a business surviving or failing.

We have requested a meeting with John Glen and his team, to agree a way to remove these barriers to the much-needed government-backed loan schemes. We hope that by working together with the government, these two obstacles can be swiftly overcome.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey. Your time and answers have been very useful in helping us shape a supportive response, and we will continue to use them to advocate for a supportive political environment for social businesses.


*Letter signatories:

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Locality
James Alcock, Chief Executive, Plunkett Foundation
Kirsty Cumming, Community Leisure UK
Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC
Colin Jess, Director, Social Enterprise Northern Ireland
Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK
Catherine Manning, Interim Chief Executive, Social Value UK
Rose Marley, Chief Executive, Co-operatives UK
Chris Martin, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Scotland
Mark Norbury, Chief Executive, UnLtd
Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre

Tobias Recruitment Group

50% off recruitment services
for social enterprises

Tobias Recruitment Group is a new Plymouth-based recruiting specialist with a difference. They are one of the only recruitment businesses set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC), where at least 65% of profits are dedicated to improving the local community.

Part of their year one goal is to fund a completely free to access mental health clinic where people can come and feel safe, as well as get the support they desperately need that simply isn’t out there due to lack of funding or exhaustive waiting lists.

One of their commitments to aid local businesses is to provide recruitment services at a heavily discounted rate. The aim of this is to help local companies to reduce outgoing costs and give them the best possible chance of succeeding, especially during these uncertain times. On top of receiving a discount on services, there may also be the possibility of staged payment plans for businesses that need that little bit of extra support.

Tobias Recruitment Group is committed to doing whatever they can to support the local community, but also would love to help other CIC and social enterprise businesses succeed. As a new member of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC network – they have recently achieved the Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation –  they would like to extend a special 50% discount to the whole network.

For more information please get in touch with Leon Coates on 01752 875355 or via email:


Challenging consumers to look ‘beyond the badge’

Social Enterprise Mark CIC has partnered with several well-respected standard setting and accreditation bodies to encourage consumers to challenge ethical labels and sustainability claims that are used by brands they buy from.

With recent studies* suggesting that sustainability issues are playing an increasing role in consumer purchase decisions, the new campaign aims to educate consumers about ways they can identify genuine labels and claims, and therefore make more informed choices. Working with fellow accreditation bodies Golf Environment Organization, Living Wage Foundation, Soil Association Certification and TrustMark, and also Ethical Consumer, a key player in the ethical consumer movement, Social Enterprise Mark CIC hopes to get consumers thinking more about the labels and badges that appear on the products they buy, and to find out what they actually mean.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC explains the motives behind the campaign: “With the practice of greenwashing now commonplace in consumer markets, we feel it is really important for consumers to challenge what brands are telling them and not just accept their claims at face value.”

“That is why we have developed this campaign – to educate and support consumers to question the validity of ethical claims, to enable them to identify those that actually have some substance. We are pleased to have the support of several high-profile partners, to engage with a wider consumer audience across multiple sectors.”

Director of Ethical Consumer Tim Hunt, explains their reasons for getting involved: “We are pleased to support the ‘Beyond the Badge’ campaign, as a timely reminder of the need to question the real meaning behind the logos, symbols and standards on the products we buy. As time-poor consumers we often rely on what companies tell us, as to how sustainable and ethical a product or service is. In a ‘greenwash-rich’ world we very much encourage shoppers to ask tough questions of producers and retailers, to ensure they reflect our values and are deserving of our custom.”

The campaign calls on consumers to look ‘beyond the badge’, to find out more about ethical claims, and to look for any evidence or proof to support such claims. Social Enterprise Mark CIC has put together some useful tips to support consumers to cut through the “greenwash” to identify genuine labels and claims. One way that is suggested is to look out for a symbol of accreditation, which has been independently assessed and awarded by a third party. Social Enterprise Mark CIC and the campaign partners believe that accreditation and certification is vital in engendering consumer trust in brands, as it provides visible proof of an organisations sustainability credentials.

As explained by Clare McDermott, Business Development Director of Soil Association Certification, “Trust is a major issue for consumers; our research last summer found this to be the biggest influencer on purchasing behaviour and accreditation and certification is the best way to guarantee trust and reassure people.  We’re really pleased to be supporting Beyond the Badge the campaign as the UK’s leading organic and ethical certification body, to help make sure people know what they are buying and to expose greenwashing and false claims.”

This is a sentiment echoed by Libi Newell, Communications Manager at Golf Environment Organization “Credibility should be at the centre of any meaningful standard and certification system. That has been the case with GEO Certified® from the very start; it’s transparency and independent verification has been instrumental in it becoming a trusted mark with a strong reputation. Because of this it provides value to golf clubs, and the golf industry demonstrating real commitment and positive impact. We are pleased to be involved with this campaign, to promote credible certification and support consumers to make informed purchase decisions, and to know they are buying from businesses they can trust.”

Social Enterprise Mark CIC and the campaign partners urge consumers to pledge their support to the campaign, and to get involved by spreading the word on social media. There is also a Thunderclap that people can join, where a message will be posted at the same time from hundreds of social media accounts, to create a buzz of conversation about our new scheme.

People are also encouraged to keep an eye out for examples of greenwashing and to share these on social media, using the campaign hashtag #GoBeyondTheBadge. Full information can be found at


* Unilever study of 20,000 adults from five countries revealed one third (33%) of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. The study asked how sustainability concerns impact choices in-store and at home. Crucially, it then mapped their claims against real purchase decisions, giving a more accurate picture than ever of what people are buying – and why.

National Apprenticeship Week 2016

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we are supporting the #PasstheTorch campaign.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC took on our first Apprentice in December. Lara Wylie, who joined the team as Customer Relations Assistant, is enrolled on a Level 2 Business and Administration Apprenticeship through City College Plymouth. On completion of the Level 2 qualification, Lara intends to enrol on the Level 3 Apprenticeship, with a long term view to study for a degree via the Open University.


The driving force of the Pass the Torch campaign is an Olympic-style torch which represents the passing on of Apprenticeship and Employer knowledge. The torch is making an appearance at a wide variety of business events from February to May. Employers are asked to pledge their support for apprenticeships and traineeships, showcasing their commitment to the government’s target to reach 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.

To pledge support you can:


Fusion21Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 is also supporting the campaign, and has funded 144 Apprenticeships since 2014 – delivering £268,665 in social value, whilst supporting young people to learn a life-long trade.

The organisation has been helping to tackle the skills shortage in the construction industry, by funding a variety of apprenticeships in professions including joinery; bricklaying; plastering; painting and electrics. These initiatives provide young people with the chance to build a career by learning new skills and qualifications – which often lead to securing sustainable employment opportunities.

GeorgeEighteen-year old George Buckley from Halewood in Liverpool has excelled in a bricklaying apprenticeship, thanks to support and funding received from Fusion21. After nearly two years of hands-on work experience and studying at The City of Liverpool College, George is nearing the end of the scheme and is on track to receive a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 2. George’s apprenticeship has enabled him to mix the technical skills he has learnt in the classroom, with on-the-job experience gained from working for home builder and urban regeneration partner, Countryside.

George said: “I didn’t really enjoy school – I wanted to be out in the fresh air, earning money and learning skills I could turn into a career. That’s why an apprenticeship was the best option for me. My uncle has had a fantastic career as a bricklayer, and he inspired me to follow the same path.

 “I’ve worked really hard to develop my skills – and achieved third place in the SkillBuild Regional Heat Competition 2015, in the bricklaying category. SkillBuild is the largest multi-trade competition in the country, so it was a great indication of the progress I was making. This apprenticeship has been a fantastic stepping stone for me,” adds George – “each day is a fresh challenge – and I can confidently work on my own without supervision.”

Ian McDonough, Community Regeneration Manager at Fusion21, said: “George has really applied himself during his apprenticeship – and we’re really proud of what he has achieved.

“Apprenticeships can change lives – and it’s really important that these opportunities exist to develop new talent in the construction sector and other industries.”



National Apprenticeship Week 2016 runs from Monday 14th – Friday 18th March, and celebrates apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

To find out more about the National Apprenticeship Service visit

Social Enterprise Lecture Series Autumn 2015

The Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London is holding a social enterprise lecture series, showcasing Social Entrepreneurship across sectors, and from around the world.

The series started on Tuesday 13th October, with a lecture from John O’Shea on ‘The Power of Social Entrepreneurs’. The series continues throughout October and November, with the last lecture on  Tuesday 8th December.

Speakers include Senior Advisor at the British Council Paula Woodman, independent consultant Roxanne Persaud LFRSA, and social enterprise business advisor Adrian Ashton.

Please click here to download the full programme. Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths website.

University Commended by Council for Commitment to Social Enterprise

The Plymouth-based University of St Mark & St John has been commended by Plymouth City Council Leader Tudor Evans, in recognition of its commitment to social enterprise.

It has become one of only four universities in the UK to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark. This makes Plymouth, which was the UK’s first social enterprise city, the only city in the UK with two Universities accredited for social enterprise work.

The Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the UK and international certification authority that safeguards social enterprise credentials. Only organisations that can prove they put people and planet before shareholder profit are awarded a license to display the Social Enterprise Mark.

The University of St Mark & St John is on a new trajectory having secured HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) funding of nearly £3million to enable the development of new courses, infrastructure, and the estate. It ranks as first in the UK for social mobility and has the highest-ranking graduate employment of the four Universities in Devon and Cornwall, with 95% of graduates achieving employment within six months.

Plymouth City Council Leader Tudor Evans said: “Higher education is at the heart of social enterprise and it’s fantastic to see the University recognised for the public benefit it continues to bring to our communities; through several projects including the increasing work with NHS rehabilitation programmes, the innovative work with Macmillan Cancer Support, and the University’s values which provide a set of guiding principles to enable students of today to become leaders of tomorrow who will address the global challenges of the 21st Century.”

Social Enterprise

The NatWest SE100 fact sheet 2015

What is the NatWest SE100?

The NatWest SE100 is a market intelligence platform for social enterprises,
investors and advisor’s. It holds live data on more than 1,300 social ventures, ranked
and scored according to their financial growth and impact measurement practice.
Thanks to the enthusiastic engagement of our social ventures, the SE100
has become an important resource for all those who want to gain a better
understanding of the social enterprise economy in the UK. Social enterprises can
benchmark their performance; social investors can find new deal opportunities.
We share learning through our NatWest SE100 Insight series, and celebrate
success with £30k+ of annual awards. The platform also includes an Investor
Index, which lists the UK’s key social investors and scores them on their impact
measurement and transparency.

The SE100 has been generously supported by RBS since its inception five years
ago. With the bank’s community programmes now moving to a new phase, the
sponsorship has moved from RBS to NatWest (part of the RBS family).
The SE100 is an initiative founded and run by social innovation company Matter&Co.

Who can join?

We deliberately take a broad view on the term ‘social enterprise’ so that we are able
to include all those committed to creating social value through business. Although
we do not have a strict set of criteria please consider the following before joining:
• Your primary mission is social or environmental
• You either run as a business but a significant proportion of profits/surplus
(usually more than 50%) go towards the social mission, or
• You run as a charity but trade products or services to deliver much
of your revenue
• A significant amount of your income is through trading
The SE100 is made up of CICs, non-profits, co-operatives, trading charities,
limited companies and other types of enterprise.

Why take part?

By adding your organisation’s data to the SE100 you become part of
a growing number of social ventures aiming for greater transparency
and collaboration with other like-minded businesses. Completing your
organisation’s profile on the SE100 you can:
• Enter for the chance to win a share of over £30,000 in prize money in
our annual awards
• Create confidential comparative reports of your performance,
benchmarked against others in your region or sector
• Raise the profile of your organisation to potential investors or
• Track your organisation’s financial performance alongside your impact
• Write for our blog; share your story, win support for your projects and
hear from other social ventures
• Get discounted tickets to Good Deals – the event for responsible
businesses and investors
• Get special invitations to NatWest SE100 events, which are usually
free to SE100 members

How to sign up

Taking part is free and simple and we will not share any of you r data without
your permission. For further information, or to create, claim or update your
profile, please visit
You can also contact the SE100 team directly
E: T: +44(0)20 8533 8898
You must sign up and complete your profile by 24th August 2015 t o be
considered for this year’s awards.

The 2015 NatWest SE100 awards ceremony will be held at Critical Mass (the
conference brought to you by Good Deals and Social Value International) on
19th-20th October at the Royal Institute, London. For discounted tickets visit

Social enterprise Mark Holder GroCycle’s urban mushroom farm featured on BBC 1

Social enterprise Mark Holder GroCycle’s urban mushroom farm has been hailed as a model solution for providing fresh food in cities and Last night (24th June) featured on BBC 1’s The One Show.

By growing mushrooms on coffee grounds from cafes in Exeter, the GroCycle team turn a waste product into healthy, fresh, protein-rich Oyster mushrooms which are then sold in the local area.

“Traditional mushroom cultivation requires energy-intensive processes to sterilise the growing material. Coffee grounds are already sterilised when the coffee is brewed. That is what makes this way of growing mushrooms so sustainable” said Adam Sayner, company director.

The award-winning certified social enterprise has turned unused office space in Princesshay, right the heart of Exeter city centre into a productive space, where an otherwise wasted resource is then turned into food for the local population. Coffee waste is a huge problem; 80,000,000 cups of coffee are drunk each day in the UK, yet most of the waste coffee grounds are currently just being sent to landfill.

The project also provides testing and training opportunities. Through the company’s courses over 350 people have been trained and course members from over 15 countries around the world including Columbia, Australia and Iceland are learning how to grow mushrooms on used coffee grounds.

“We have built what we think is the most advanced urban mushroom farm on the planet!,” says Eric Jong, company director ” And like so many people we speak to, The One Show’s team was very intrigued and wanted to know more about how you can grow mushrooms using waste coffee grounds.”

With the UN predicting that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, a more sustainable approach to urban waste and food production will be required.

“We picture a world where in just 5 years from now, there’ll be lots of cities around the word with an Urban Mushroom Farm,” adds Adam Sayner “It just makes so much sense to turn this waste into healthy food and add to a city’s food supply.”

GroCycle is a registered Social Enterprise with Social Enterprise Mark.