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

Community logo development with the NSPCC

We’re proud to be partnering with the NSPCC on the Together for Childhood campaign being piloted in Ernesettle, Plymouth. It’s about reducing the incidence of child sex abuse in the community. It’s about awareness-raising to push for prevention of abuse, not protection after the fact.

The brief for this project is to create a logo and key messaging, but also to ensure that work is owned by the community it is designed for. We went to their first consultation session armed with colour, energy and craft supplies.



Powering Change: Plymouth Energy Community

Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) is a local Community Benefit Society seeking to address rising energy bills and carbon emissions in Plymouth. PEC offer a range of services, including home visits and one to one and community support to those struggling with energy issues or fuel poverty.

PEC is internationally acclaimed and is one of the most successful community energy organisations in the UK. Each year, PEC (and its sister organisation, PEC Renewables) hosts its Annual General Meeting for members. PEC now partners with other organisations to host a larger event and in 2018 will enjoy the company of Lord John Bird.

We wanted to mirror their joined-up thinking in the artwork we produced for their promotional poster and flyer.

Credit: Harriet Jones



Billy Ruffian’s Brewing Company

Billy Ruffian’s Brewing Company is a social enterprise independent brewery based in Plymouth, England.
It has not yet launched to market. The brewery premises, in Devonport in Plymouth, have been leased by the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) for three years with the intention of launching a local, authentic craft beer brand. We helped them with the first iteration of their evolving brand and are supporting the project as it grows and develops its social purpose.

PEC PALS logo and eco-friendly wooden badges

PEC Pals is the Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) volunteer programme. It’s a way for people in our community to support work on renewable energy locally by getting more involved. That could be as small as replacing people’s light bulbs to a whole host of big projects.

They asked us to create a bright, simple, readable and friendly logo for the volunteer project that would work with the existing PEC branding. And something energy-related if we could. We love what we created – and how great it looks on the eco-friendly wooden badges we provided for them.


Credit: Lauren Rothery

Event invitation: Sex, lies and social enterprise at the Plymouth Social Enterprise Festival

Join us for an audience-led (we’ll be using interactive polling), Wild Inventions event that looks for the truth of where we are with social enterprise.

First, a light supper, (17:45 to 18:30) with vegan options available.

Then, from 18:45 to 20:15, it’s a chat show style set-up where a string of local faces takes the hot seat.

We’re asking (unashamedly) provocative questions about the compassionate business we do in the city. And handing control to the audience about exactly which of our questions they would like our guests to answer. Real questions, real honest.


Attendees will also receive a high-quality print of a limited-edition Wild Inventions commemorative poster by Lauren Rothery.

We’re taking ticket reservations, and suggestions for questions. Send your ideas to

Our confirmed guests are:

  • Alistair Macpherson, Plymouth Energy Community
  • Annette Dhami, Social Enterprise Consultant
  • Gareth Hart, Iridescent Ideas
  • Wendy Hart, Nudge Community Builders
  • Additional names may be added

Questions that might, but probably not, appear (as they are on here for all to see) are:

  • Is social enterprise just charity dressed up?
  • In theory, and in practice, is transparency a fundamental principle of social enterprise?
  • Is social enterprise a niche, or an overall shift for business? If it’s a shift then are we a quaint, and ultimately redundant, foray into what will become normal?


Marketing materials support for Yealm Community Energy

The Yealm Community Energy  community-owned solar farm is at Newton Ferrers. It generates enough clean energy from its 2km of solar panels to power 2,000 homes. The farm is part-owned by a community benefit society so a share of its profits doesn’t go to commercial companies.  Instead, the farm’s sales generate money for local community projects. The solar farm team aims to offer small grants totaling approximately £1.4 million over the life of the project.

We designed and drafted them some leaflets to give out at community events, encouraging people to apply for project funding. It needed to be simple, friendly, and – thanks to a very, very short deadline – it needed to be done fast. We worked with them to evolve their existing materials through facilitated feedback rounds to get exactly what they needed. In words. In pictures. And in style.

Interested in joining Wild Inventions?

We’re currently accepting applications for new members. The legal paperwork behind being a company means that’s a formal process, but it’s fairly straightforward.

Who can apply?

To become a Community Interest Company we had to set out the community we work with. Our commitment is that the company’s activities will provide benefit to:

  • Members of the creative community in inconsistent, under-employed or limited progression employment situations centred around West Devon and the wider South West of England.
  • The social enterprise, voluntary, and third sector communities working locally and nationally.

This a way of keeping everyone honest. We are not trying to be a regular agency or marketing company.

Benefits of membership

Members have the right to vote on business decisions and take on a leadership position by standing for a directorship. This is on a one member one vote basis. It also grants the member the benefits that the company may provide, as it develops and expands. For example, an ongoing goal is to have a library of things, a kit library, available for work.

So, here’s the deal. Our legal structures mean we need anyone wishing to join to send the directors a statement on:

  • Your current working situation (we need to know you’re in the gig economy)
  • Your motivation to join (we need to know you’re committed to our manifesto)
  • A few words about any local connections where applicable (whether professional or more broadly). This is to meet our local person requirement.
  • A few items from your portfolio. If you become a member, we would ask these then form your company portfolio at

This is both a formality and a way of keeping everyone honest. You can find the application form here.

We’re so excited about this project. Let’s work together.

Press release: VERCIDA launches world-first job-matching service using artificial intelligence

Innovative inclusive employment job board, VERCIDA, has announced a partnership with Irish data science firm,, to provide a world-first job-matching service using artificial intelligence (AI).

The new arrangement means VERCIDA will be integrating’s artificial intelligence technology into their job boards and using intuitive searching to help people find work that suits their skills and profile. The groundbreaking system allows candidates to directly upload their CV to the VERCIDA site, then see suitable vacancies seamlessly matched to them.

This is possible because’s technology uses deep learning to understand both the skills and knowledge that candidates bring – as well as the needs of the industries they may work in. It first reads a candidate’s CV to establish their experience, then whether they fit with any currently available vacancies. Finally, it marries this up with what it already knows about different industries and opportunities to find the perfect match between jobseeker and employer.

The cognitive engine is built and trained on both resume and job data, as well as industry and sector specific data. The core of this talent technology is Natural Language Understanding.

The job search is dead. All hail AI-powered CV matching

This candidate-focused approach is a break away from traditional job-searching boards where candidate details could fall unmatched and unnoticed amid hundreds of thousands of other people. Using’s technology, VERCIDA can ensure that when a candidate’s background fits an open job opportunity they will definitely not be missed.

The new partners also recognise the potential that comes from having useful data available to help jobseekers. The service will, for example, give an average market salary for a CV (based on the skills and experience readable within it). Other projects on the horizon include AI-driven automatic notifications for jobseekers who match the needs of newly-posted jobs.

Morgan Lobb explained, “We’re convinced that this global-first service will bring huge value and opportunities for our jobseekers. The technology is innovative, and the goal is brilliant – we want to match people with great jobs that allow them to be successful and well. Harnessing data science is an important next step for us in providing practical, useable and intelligent services for employers and jobseekers alike.”

Andreea Wade, co-founder and Chief Executive of explained, “It’s important to us that our first project with a job board is one that so enthusiastically promotes diversity and inclusion. We have been very involved in promoting opportunities for all groups of society, so the topic and goal is very close to where we are as a company.”

This is a new approach for who have previously been working directly with recruiters rather than candidates. Founded in August 2015, the company is an AI powered end-to-end candidate analysis engine generating key recruitment intelligence and automation. relies on state-of-the-art neural network architectures integrated within end-to-end pipelines to support today’s global recruitment business processes.


VERCIDA is a powerful workforce attraction tool, helping organisations to create a fair and inclusive workforce by offering easy ways to communicate with potential staff and for people to find work that suits their needs. It operates on the idea of showcasing socially-responsible employers who are focused on wellbeing and are committed to creating a fairer society at work.
After seven years in operation, VERCIDA has a portfolio of over 130 clients and a team of twelve. The company currently operates from a base in London and, in the longer term, has ambitious plans for growth into the US and European markets.