Social Enterprise stars recognised for commitment to West Midlands

Awards mark community work.

Twelve of the West Midlands leading social enterprises and their supporters were recognised recently when the sector’s biggest regional competition came to a major finale.

Mindful Gifts (a company that provides appropriate gifts and activities for dementia sufferers), Blu Rocket Design (a graphic design agency with a passion for pro-bono support) and John Taylor Hospice were among the main winners at the Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM)-backed event.

The latter, which has provided palliative and end of life care in Birmingham for over 100 years, claimed the SE Prima Award after its Benjamin’s Brothers crowdfunding campaign raised £3,000 to buy a crucial aid in helping African and Caribbean men address prostrate cancer fears.

A customised prosthetic rubber bottom – made in black rather than traditional pink – has been purchased and is now being used to show members of the community how they can check themselves earlier.

Melanie Mills, Chief Executive of SEWM, commented: “Our sector is experiencing significant growth and is increasingly being viewed as an important economic driver…it is only right that we recognise the organisations, enterprises and individuals that are making it happen.

“More than 150 people attended the awards evening held at the University of Birmingham, who kindly gave us the venue to host the event. They listened to stories of expansion, innovation, passion, community spirit, employee development and outstanding business performance from our twelve winners.”

She went on to add: “Their stories will hopefully inspire other entrepreneurs and organisations to embrace the social movement. People are sitting up and taking notice of the sector and that can only be good news.”

Sponsored by Mears Group, the evening’s other winners included:

• Class Careers (SE Passion) – Connecting young people with enhanced education and early stage career opportunities

• Cllr Faye Abbott (SE Inspire) – Coventry City Council’s Portfolio Holder has been driving its journey to become a social enterprise city

• Creative Alliance (SE Profit) – A leading provider of learning opportunities for young people getting into the creative sector

• Elizabeth Barker (SE Professional) – Devised specialist support package for RBS Flying Project

• Lingo Links (SE People) – Providing translation services to marginalised communities to reduce isolation

• REPC (SE Planet) – Helping local and national customers safely dispose of and recycle unwanted IT equipment and furniture

SEWM also recognised two individuals – Sandwell Community Caring Trust’s Geoff Walker and Stephen Holmes of HMP Stoke Heath – for their outstanding contributions to social enterprise.

The final award on the evening went to the Signing Tree Conference Centre for its Social Saturday promotional video that has become a viral sensation.

Creative Alliance’s Noel Dunne commented: “I’m delighted to be recognised at the SE Awards, not least because it means we have achieved some of our objectives and started to make a real difference to young people in the creative industries.

“This sector is incredibly hard to break into, but we’ve managed to place 100 young creative apprentices in just four years. Employers in the West Midlands are responding and hopefully this honour will give us an even greater platform to get more businesses to invest in the future talent the region so badly needs.”

Social Enterprise West Midlands is the leading business network and consultancy for social enterprise in the region.

The membership-led organisation offers access to expert consultancy, advice and guidance, as well as a series of event and workshops designed to educate, inform and promote a sector that is worth more than £35m locally.

It also offers event management support and was instrumental – with its parent company The Aspire Group – in the launch of, the UK’s first social business directory. For further information, please visit or follow @_sewm on twitter