Press release: Better business tops the bill at Plymouth’s ninth Social Enterprise Festival, 12th-18th November

Plymouth’s ninth Social Enterprise Festival kicks off in November with a series of events and special guest appearances that celebrate our city’s cutting-edge community businesses.

This year’s schedule, from 12th to 18th November is full of events looking at building inclusive prosperity – and how community business can ‘takeover’ the economy.

John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, will feature as part of Plymouth Energy Community’s celebration of how communities can power change on 14th November.

A social enterprise is a business that ploughs its profits back into a strong social or environmental mission and Plymouth is the UK’s leading ‘Social Enterprise City.’ Social enterprises in Plymouth bring in nearly £600 million of income every year, and employ over 7,000 people.

This year’s festival, organised again by the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, will feature bright ideas from across the city. That includes a big announcement from Plymouth City Council at the launch event on November 12th.

Events and entertainment on the schedule range from pub quizzes to stand-up comedy to training workshops and arts markets. The organisers hope to help people understand what social enterprises do, and how buying locally has a positive impact on our communities. It’s all about great social enterprises doing great things and how we create conditions for social enterprises in all their forms to start, grow and thrive.

Gareth Hart, Chair of the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network said, “These events will show that social enterprises in our great city are creating a fairer, more productive economy. We have seen social enterprises grow in confidence and importance over the last few years but we need to make a breakthrough into public consciousness if we are to really ‘takeover’ the economy and make Plymouth a better place to live and work.”

This year’s festival shines a spotlight on social enterprise but also asks challenging questions about how we all achieve a fairer, more equal, more inclusive economy. Get involved in events with the ideas incubator the Real Ideas Organisation, social enterprise consultants Iridescent Ideas, mental health advocates Cognivity, and Nudge – the radical community builders group helping to rejuvenate Union Street.

Sponsors this year include health and social care provider Livewell Southwest CIC, Plymouth City Council, construction group Willmott Dixon, the Real Ideas Organisation, accountants PFK Francis Clark and ethical public relations firm, Wild Inventions.

Geoff Baines, Director at lead sponsor Livewell Southwest CIC, said: “As the country’s largest health and care social enterprise we are proud to work with and support our fellow social enterprises in the city.

“Whatever size or sector, at our core is a desire to make a difference to the community by reinvesting profits and, importantly, building in steps to deliver the biggest social value in every decision we take, whether that is buying local goods and services, or offering work opportunities to the long-term unemployed.”

Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Housing and Co-operative Development at Plymouth City Council said, “We wear the badge of Social Enterprise City with pride. We have pledged to explore ways in which we can help co-operatives, mutuals, and social enterprises to grow and flourish.

“We are a city of innovators, and it’s clear to see that working for Plymouth, people and profit is continuing to be the ethos of success. I look forward to seeing continued innovation and growth in Plymouth’s co-operatives and social enterprises.”

Rob Woolcock, Director at Willmott Dixon said, “We understand the positive impact that social enterprises have on the communities in which they are located. At Willmott Dixon we also believe that we have a purpose beyond profit, and that is why through our Community Liaison teams, we constantly strive to leave a positive impact in our communities, beyond the buildings we build.”

More information about the festival is available on the PSEN website:

Updates throughout the week from @PlymSocEnt using #socentcity


About the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network (PSEN) is a membership organization representing 80 businesses ranging from huge social enterprises like Livewell South West, Plymouth University and Plymouth Community Homes right down to scores of micro-social enterprises and freelance professionals..


Gareth Hart 07786 863206

Jess Holliland

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