Scotlands Finest in line for UK Awards

Scotlands Finest in line for UK Awards
The Wise Group

Two local Glasgow-based organisations are showing how the social enterprise sector in Scotland is making a big impact in the UK.

CEiS and the Wise Group have emerged as award winners of the prestigious UK wide, Enterprising Solutions, Social Enterprise of the Year, 2008.  The awards reflect the fact that Scotland is one of the best countries in the world to be a social enterprise business and the continued reputation of Scottish social enterprises.

Both organisations received a prize of £5,000 to provide further support for the people and projects that they work with.

Laurie Russell, Chief Executive of the Wise Group said:  ”Winning a UK award is a fantastic recognition of the ability of the Wise Group and CEiS to develop over 25 years into leading players in a growing sector.  The concept of social enterprise is one that fits both the enterprising side of the Scottish character and our social valus and social consceince.”

Gerry Higgins, Chief Executive of CeiS, said:  ‘CEiS is delighted to be a winner in the face of intense competition from hundreds of social enterprises throughout the UK.  This result reflects the dedication and commitment of the staff and supporters of CEiS and the Wise Group to assist individuals, enterprises and communities throughout Scotland to realise their potential.’
The Wise Group and CEiS were two of the twelve organisations shortlisted for the prestigious UK wide Best Social Enterprise Award and were in line to win up to £10,000.  In addition, two of the five nominees for the newest award, Best Social Enterprise in Schools were also Scottish: Stonelaw High (Rutherglen) and Dunbog Primary (Fife) are in the running for a £5,000 award. Winners were announced in Central London on Monday evening. 
The UK wide Enterprising Solutions Awards are sponsored by The Office of the Third Sector, RBS and Natwest, and hosted by the Social Enterprise Coalition.  The Awards recognise and celebrate the UK’s best and most innovative social enterprises, businesses set up to tackle a social or environmental need. They are entrepreneurial, sustainable and are focussed on social change.  The Enterprising Solutions Awards are celebrating their 10th year in 2008 and some of the winners over the years include Divine Chocolate Company, Sunderland Homecare Associates, Hackney Community Transport and Cafe Direct.
Social enterprises are dynamic businesses with a social purpose meaning that they have social aims and trade in competitive markets.  Many social enterprises put people at the heart of everything they do and place a social value on all activities with surpluses being reinvested rather than distributed to shareholders.   The Scottish Government has invested in social enterprise through its Action Plan for an Enterprising Third Sector which includes a £30m Scottish Investment Fund and a bespoke business support programme ‘Aspire to Enterprise’.

The Wise Group supports unemployed people and in particular the hardest to help who face multiple barriers to work, helping them to find and keep a job.  Over 25,000 people have now been helped into work and we continue to regenerate local communities while helping long term unemployed local people get on the job training, skills, work experience and support to get back to work.

Long term unemployed people can find it harder to get back to work.  The Wise Group is hoping that if successful it will be able to provide further support for those people recently starting work who had been out of work for more than five years.  An investment fund will help with the transition from benefits for people setting up their own business, help people gain access to skills and personal development, and provide guidance and career development for those moving into work.

CEiS, a social enterprise based in Govan was established in 1984 and was an original pioneer of community business development.  In the last 24 years CEiS has maintained an edge as an innovative, respected development agency.  The CEiS Enterprise Support Service is the largest and most experienced service in the UK, supporting over 90 social enterprises annually with services ranging from feasibility studies to crisis management.  CEiS subsidiary DSL, lends £1.5m annually to social enterprises, sole traders and small businesses in disadvantaged communities.  In recent years the organisation has introduced highly innovative employability and engagement programmes to engage with those who are furthest from the labour market, with some notable successes that have been widely recognised.

CEiS has recently organised the inaugural Social Enterprise World Forum bringing 420 people from 27 countries to Edinburgh, highlighting the fact that Scotland is recognised as having the best social enterprise environment in the world at present.  CEiS works with a variety of partners including the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow City Council to develop the potential of social enterprise including working to ensure the 2014 Commonwealth Games have a strong legacy for social enterprises and the communities in which they operate.

Jonathan Bland, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition said:  ‘CEiS and the Wise Group are two extraordinary social enterprises with long track records of success after success.  Social enterprise is about sustainable businesses harnessing the power of the market for the benefit of communities and individuals, and these businesses demonstrates the vital work being carried out by social enterprises across the UK.’