Prime Minister praises Sunderland’s social success

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron
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DAVID Cameron has praised Sunderland’s dedication to socially-responsible business.

The city’s status as a “Social Enterprise Place” – one of the best cities in the country to set up and run a social enterprise – will be celebrated at a summit to launch Social Enterprise Week at the National Glass Centre today.

“It’s fantastic Sunderland is recognised as a Social Enterprise Place – a beacon of social enterprise activity,” said Mr Cameron.

“Social Enterprise Week is a great way to raise awareness of the vital and growing role social enterprises play in our economy and local communities in Sunderland, and across the country.

“Social enterprises trade to tackle some of the greatest challenges we face, from unemployment to food waste. The UK is home to the largest and fastest growing social enterprise sector, and Sunderland is leading the way.”

Today’s event will hear from speakers including Social Enterprise UK chief executive Peter Holbrook, Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson and Mark Heskett-Saddington, of Wearside social enterprise development company SES, which led the bid for Social Enterprise Place status.

The organisation has helped to create more than 3,500 small business start-ups and 245 social enterprises across three decades.

Peter Holbrook said: “As a Social Enterprise Place, Sunderland is reinjecting life into local communities across the city, creating opportunities and local wealth, and changing lives for the better.

“Through Social Enterprise Week people can get involved and show their support by buying from social enterprises in Sunderland.”

Successful social enterprises based in the city include the award-winning Sunderland Home Care Associates, which employs more than 450 people and has a £5.5million turnover.

Also, Compass Community Transport, which was launched in 2002 with three vehicles, three paid members of staff and a team of volunteers, and now has 33 full-time paid employees, five volunteers and a fleet of 25 buses, transporting people on more than 22,000 journeys a month.

Coun Watson said: “Social enterprises are a thriving, important business sector in our city.

“Their robust success means that they are creating jobs and helping to boost the local economy, while carrying out invaluable work, benefitting many thousands of local people.”

Social enterprises are businesses with a social or environmental mission that reinvest their profits for good.

National campaign body Social Enterprise UK is awarding social enterprise status to areas across the country, where social enterprise activity is thriving.