Social Enterprise Yorkshire and the Humber Awards 2017

The annual Social Enterprise Yorkshire and the Humber (SEYH) awards took place this week on Tuesday 7 November at Burton Street Foundation, Sheffield.

In association with Hempsons, Unity Trust Bank and Big Society Capital, the ever-popular event brought together over 100 individuals from social enterprises, charities, public sector departments and businesses alike to celebrate fantastic achievements from across the region.

The dinner was compered by Chair of the All Parliamentary Committee for Social Enterprise, and previous General Manager of SEYH, Alex Sobel, also featuring guest speaker Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK. With the variety and quality of nominees being unprecedented, it was said that decisions around winners in the five categories had proved harder than ever before.

The Start Up Award is an award dedicated to recognising new social enterprises in the region still in the first two years of trading and was awarded to Conscious Youth CIC. The Kirklees based organisation through their Youth Hub Steering Group puts young people at the heart and aims to develop skills, knowledge and aspirations. Founders Serena Johnson and Sophie Simpson, gave up their jobs to take on the challenge of improving the mental and emotional resilience of young people in the area. Working with primary schools and delivering empowerment sessions Conscious Youth has grown rapidly and is now progressing to expand to benefit more young Yorkshire lives.

The Social Impact Award went to South Leeds Alternative Trading Enterprise, Leeds (SLATE). This award recognises the contributions social enterprises make in terms of their social impact and how they can demonstrate the social return on investment of their organisations. Running businesses in inner city South Leeds SLATE aim to benefit local people socially, environmentally and economically. SLATE has two Feel Good Furniture Shops that sell donated furniture and electricals, two Feel Good Cafes provide quality, homemade food at low prices and a warehouse houses the furniture collection and delivery teams. All branches help to support people with learning disabilities and mental health issues live productive, meaningful lives further helping vulnerable, long term unemployed people gain valuable work-related skills.

Hudswell Community Charity took away the award for Social Investment for their work helping provide affordable housing for local people in the village bordering the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This award specifically recognises organisations who have used social investment to create an innovative solution to a social issue or area of need. Founded over 300 years ago, the charity’s latest project has seen three houses built with a mix of loan, grant and reserve funding sources. The project has been made successful by a small volunteer led team and with new tenants confirmed, the aim of ensuring a legacy for Hudswell is being realised through this investment.

The Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognises an outstanding leader in the field of social enterprise who has shown that extra commitment to their community and been a real sector ambassador. This was awarded to Jon Johnson of REACH Homes, Sheffield. REACH Homes provides affordable eco-homes in the Sheffield area, allowing people to buy/rent a cheap-to-run home made from 60% reclaimed materials. After Strip the Willow, this is Jon’s second social enterprise venture. Described as “a true entrepreneur” he is the Secretary for the Sheffield Social Enterprise Network and has attended the School of Social Entrepreneurs to upskill himself further to help make his vision of sustainable housing a reality. With the project attracting national attention Jon is living the dream having recently moved into the prototype to fully test and experience it working first hand.

Finally, the Social Enterprise of the Year Award 2017 was awarded to Seagulls Reuse, Leeds. The award recognises organisations who are national leaders in what they do and have demonstrated a track record of delivery, growth and innovation alongside plans to take their organisation to the next level. By the collection and reprocessing of household paint, selling paint, mosaic projects and mosaic workshops over the last 10 years Seagulls has become the leading social enterprise in household paint reuse. Built around the ethos People, Planet, Profit Seagulls have two paint shops in Leeds, over 50 volunteers and have developed their own range of chalk paint. Working with people suffering from and living with mental health problems and ex- offenders, people have been brought together through Seagull’s mosaic artwork and workshops alike and with expansion on the horizon it would seem this is only going to continue.

Congratulations were given to all winners, nominees and those working in the sector with the hope that by the time the 2018 SEYH awards are held there will be even more inspirational achievements to reward in the ever-expanding regional social enterprise sector.