A celebration of social entrepreneurs
Held in the spectacular setting of the Conservatory Terrace at the Barbican Centre, the event attracted social entrepreneurs from all parts of England, Wales and Scotland.
The event was part celebration of successes so far reflecting on social entrepreneurs who have served their communities with projects such as community gardens, community cinemas, supporting ex-offenders and much more.
But the key theme was celebrating here and now and building excitement for the future with more areas coming online and 500 more awards in the pipeline.
The direction of social entrepreneurs was also considered, and it was acknowledged that they are now moving into even bigger projects such as green spaces.
The keynote speaker was Lord Andrew Mawson OBE who describes himself as a serial social entrepreneur, best known for founding the Bromley by Bow Centre in East London, the Community Action Network, Poplar Harca (social housing company) and Leaside Regeneration.
Lord Mawson’s speech focused on doing and not debating. He used the metaphor of the hot air over Brexit discussions in Government getting in the way with getting on with the job in hand.
In fact, Government was mentioned more than once with his suggestion that we should “Be bold and not follow Government. Governments come and go.”
The afternoon moved on to workshops from experienced and successful entrepreneurs who offered their experiences to motivate the audiences. These workshops included inspirational speakers from –
- The Circle
- Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions
- Whitley Bay Big Local
- The Bevy
- The Exchange
- The Dudley CoLab
- The Real Pearl Foundation
- Adventure and Wisdom Institute
After another break-out session for conversations and discussion to generate innovative ideas, everyone came back together to hear from the key speaker Erik Paul Howard.
Erik, who came from Detroit especially for the event is co-founder of Inside Southwest Detroit, Young Nation, and The Alley Project in southwest Detroit. He shared with us anecdotes and inspiring words about how he combines his passions for youth and community development with his love of photography. Through cultural and place-based activities such as lowriding and street art, Erik has been building with neighbours and youth in southwest Detroit for over 20 years.
It was an extremely powerful and at times emotional event. Without doubt, everyone left with new ideas and refreshed and enthused about their local projects.
sound bites from the day
“Social entrepreneurs are driven by making a real difference and not necessarily following rules”
“We can’t do it if it’s not driven by the local voice”
“Entrepreneurs should focus on the mechanics and detail not the ‘hot air”
“Look up into the machinery of government from the perspective of community to understand how best to support place says Lord Andrew Mawson”
“Get behind people not process”
“The only opinion I care about are the people who live here”
“Councils ask how did the The Bevy manage to get 200 people to donate £10? Answer, because it’s a real grass roots project”
“Social Entrepreneurs fill in the gaps in the community”
“The reason that residents, students and academics can come together for a meeting at The Bevy is because it is a pub”
“Work with people not at people”
“The way to big things is the through the small things”
You need a wide range of partners, funding and resources to create #social change”
“Get rich and go to heaven”
“It doesn’t matter where you are. It’s all about participating, communicating with people, knowing your assets and feeling empowered about your future”
“We need a holistic approach, using community assets as a toolbox to support specific community needs.”
“Unlikely relationships unleash outcomes and opportunities”
“Social enterprise isn’t a magic money tree- it needs a whole range of approaches, funding, and support”
“Frequency and depth of unlikely relationships that arise as a result of the work”