The first national conference celebrating 5 years of the Social Enterprise Mark has been hailed as a great success.
The conference theme, ‘Social Enterprise Making a Difference’, looked to the future for social enterprise. Keynote speaker, The Big Issue’s Nigel Kershaw, spoke about the challenges on the horizon. In particular, he called for Government to be more enterprising and to justify investment in early stage entrepreneurial developments. The conference heard from June Burrough about the Pierian Centre, which was the first Community Interest Company (CIC) to achieve the Social Enterprise Mark. June’s book, ‘The Honesty Pot’, tells the story of the lessons and legacy of this widely-known, Bristol-based CIC.
Congratulations were proffered to two new Mark Holders – Charity Bank and Beacon Centre for the Blind. Charity Bank, an ethical bank that uses savings to make loans to charities and social enterprises, announced it has become the only UK bank to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark. To celebrate, Charity Bank, announced its new partnership with the Social Enterprise Mark, offering a 25% reduction on their standard loan arrangement fee. Beacon Centre for the Blind is a Charity and Social Enterprise making a visible difference for people with visual impairment and sight loss in the West Midlands – operating Social Enterprise transport, catering, conferencing and meeting room hire services, shops and cafes, a print business and dry cleaners, health and social care support services, low vision adaptive aids sales and optometry services.
Lucy Findlay (Managing Director) and Ian Middleton (Chair) are pictured above cutting the birthday cake made by Mark Holder Seqol, and was joined by around 70 social enterprises, who enjoyed unique opportunities to network and share their experiences.
Lucy said: ‘It was great to work with our Mark Holders to bring this conference to fruition. We have come a long way in 5 years and this event gave us an opportunity to reflect on the future and gain such useful insights from the broad experiences of certified social enterprises across the country. We would love to do it again soon and thank sponsors John Taylor Hospice and Coventry University for their fantastic support.’