In a recent social enterprise debate at the House of Lords, Baroness Scott of Needham Market talked about the support the sector needs. The “dedication and enthusiasm will carry [social entrepreneurs] a very long way, but professional support in finance and business planning, legal frameworks and so on is key, and this is where the school comes in. The Ipswich school [SSE Suffolk] is great, but we need more of this sort of thing right across the country. We also need social enterprises which themselves help other social enterprises”.
In tabling the debate, Baroness Andrews described how “some years ago I had the enormous privilege to work with Lord Young of Dartington, probably the greatest social entrepreneur of the previous century, when he was creating the School for Social Entrepreneurs. That was a hugely prophetic idea and one which has not only had great success in this country but has been replicated in other countries. The school and the growth of social businesses in general across the country show how innovation, skills, jobs, enterprise and social solutions can grow modestly but effectively in local circumstances, and sometimes in very unpromising circumstances”.
In the wide ranging debate, Baroness Andrews went on to describe the £13m annual impact that SSE’s fellows create, 70% of which is in the 20% most deprived communities. The debate quoted the new Social Enterprise UK State of the Sector research, Fightback Britain, which supports SSE’s experience that in many areas social enterprises are proving more resilient in the current economic environment.