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Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise is helping individuals to reduce state welfare dependency and regain independence and dignity, generating savings in public expenses such as health and social services.

Key West of England facts

  • 10,500 jobs
  • £0.38 billion turnover in West of England social economy
  • 600 social enterprises
  • 2,800 voluntary organisations
  • 250 Community Interest Companies/co-operatives

Sector overview

The social enterprise sector is vital to the national and local economy because it offers more economic growth than the private sector:

  • It is a sustainable agent for positive social change
  • It promotes motivation and new ideas for business growth.
  • It offers an opportunity for those who may not otherwise be able to find work.
  • It provides an anchor for local communities.

A 2013 study entitled "Mapping the Social Enterprise Sector in the West of England" shows that the sector is strong and is increasing its ability to work together and to facilitate access to the many microbusinesses and community groups working across the area.

A Social Enterprise Hub developed by the group has brought together social entrepreneurs, social investors, research and training to create support services. The objective is to tackle social, economic and environmental challenges in the local and wider economy, inspire investment and nurture talent beyond the mainstream economy.

Based on a national blueprint including physical hub space; accredited training; professional support services; financial support; consortium bidding for contracts; franchising; social impact accounting; and promotion of the Social Enterprise Mark.

The Bristol and Bath Social Enterprise Network has been developed and is a public meeting place that provides members with a selection of useful resources, including a social enterprise map and directory, helpful guides and tool-kits, video case-studies and information on funding and finance. Membership of this collaborative network is currently free for social entrepreneurs to connect, engage, share and support each other to develop a strong social economy.


A few key companies involved in social enterprise in the WE LEP region include:

YMCA Bath Group
A charity and social enterprise that is based across 14 locations in Bath, Bristol, North East Somerset, Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire. Providing a range of services, including accommodation, 6 full day care nurseries, a health & Wellbeing Centre, out of school activities, community centres, the Kitchen in Bristol and more exciting projects on the way.

Social Enterprise Works CIC
Providing guidance and practical business development assistance to prospective, newly-formed and established social enterprises since 1993.

School for Social Entrepreneurs
Founded in 1997. SSE Dartington produces tailor-made courses designed to provide an intensive complete package to meet the needs of the new social entrepreneur, and to help existing businesses expand their social entrepreneurial side.

The Shaw Trust
A national charity that helps people facing disadvantage into work, gain skills and take control of their futures.

The Restore Trust
A not-for-profit organisation with a purpose to educate and support those furthest from employment, support the long-term unemployed into work and offer their families and communities a better, more sustainable, lifestyle.

Knightstone Housing
A leading housing association in Somerset and the West of England, committed to building vibrant, stable and safe communities where people can make their homes. Providing a service to over 23,000 people in 11,000 homes, and building around 300 homes a year.

Emmaus
Supporting people who have experienced homelessness by providing them with a home and meaningful work in a community setting.

Real Ideas Organisation
Passionate about solving social problems and working with individuals, organisations and sectors to harness the power of social enterprise to deliver real and lasting social change.

Quartet Community Foundation
The main focus of QCF is to change people’s lives for the better across the West of England, by enabling a wide variety of donors to fund projects that make a difference to where people live and work.

St John Hospital
A registered charity that provides accommodation and financial support to disadvantaged people in Bath.

Ashley Community Housing
Established in 2008, and an award-winning specialist housing and training provider with offices in Bristol and the West Midlands. Their mission is to support the settlement and resettlement needs of refugees, vulnerable homeless and other displaced people, to develop their independence, promote their positive contribution to the community and ease their integration into UK life.

The West of England Sport Trust
Working to inspire people, empower organisations and create opportunities through sport and physical activity.

The Park Knowle
The Centre occupies a 15 acre site. It opened in 2000 as a hub of community activity including learning, business, support services and leisure.

Re:work
Offering long term, real work experience to residents of South Bristol, particularly among young people and the unemployed.

Sofa Project
Named from the acronym to Shift Old Furniture Around, ‘SOFA’ collects good quality furniture and appliances from local households and businesses. With headquarters in West St, Old Market, they collect household furniture and appliances from households on a daily basis.


Sector group information
To get involved please email Melissa Houston.

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