East Anglia: Realise Futures and Eastern Enterprise Hub back ‘Social Saturday’ initiative

Staff from Realise Futures in Ipswich enjoying the companys Bake Off in celebration of Social Satur

Staff from Realise Futures in Ipswich enjoying the companys Bake Off in celebration of Social Saturday. - Credit: Archant

Realise Futures, the Suffolk-based social enterprise which creates work opportunities for the disabled and disadvantaged, will be taking part in tomorrow’s nation-wide “Social Saturday” initiative.

Social Saturday aims to raise awareness of social enterprises ? businesses that exist for a social or environmental purpose and which reinvest their profits back into the organisation.

Staff at Realise Futures have held a Bake Off-style event and a Quiz Night in support of Social Saturday and cafés run by the orgnaisation across Suffolk ? including Nowton Park Café, Angles Café and Café Libra, all in Bury St Edmunds, the Town Hall Tea Room and St Lawrence Café in Ipswich, Café Libra at Felixstowe library and @The Rec in Stowmarket ? will all be celebrating the event today.

Realise Futures chief executive Sarah Sharlott said: “Our social enterprises are taking part in Social Saturday which aims to raise awareness of what social enterprises are and how they are helping people.

“For example, when people buy a coffee and cupcake from one of the seven cafes we run in Suffolk, or a business supports us by outsourcing their packaging to our fulfilment division in Ipswich, they help us provide advice, training, skills development and paid employment for people who are disabled or disadvantaged.”

In May this year, Realise Futures launched its own campaign in Suffolk, called Do a Great Deal, to encourage people to “buy social” and so support their community.

Local support for Social Saturday has also come from the Eastern Enterprise Hub, based on Waterfront in Ipswich, whose business training and support services include dedicated programmes for social entrepreneurs.

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In the run-up to Social Saturday, the hub given extra exposure for social entrepreneurs on its website – www.eehub.co.uk – and distributed promotional material and emails.

Matt Abbott, the managing director of Elatus Sports, a social enterprise that gives disabled and vulnerable people the chance to play sport, who recently completed the hub’s Ipswich 18 Programme, feels that buying from social enterprises is extremely important.

“Buying from social enterprises in my eyes is no different from supporting your brothers, sisters, parents, friends and neighbours in their business ventures. They’re all people we would look to for support and we would support them in return.

“I always look to buy from local, socially-conscious people and hope that at some point, they’ll buy from me too.”

Peter Holbrook, chief executive Social Enterprise UK, the national body for social enterprises which is organising Social Saturday, said: “When you buy a product or a service from a social enterprise, you directly make a positive difference to the world you live in.

“Through Social Saturday we want to help people find social enterprises to help them improve their local communities and the lives of people who are less fortunate and need a helping hand.”

Among the best-known social enterprises supporting the day are Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and The Big Issue magazine.