Suffolk launches school for social entrepreneurs

IPSWICH: Suffolk is to launch a school for social entrepreneurs in the New Year.

Choose Suffolk has won the licence to run the educational facility, which will support and nurture the county’s new and established social entrepreneurs in fulfilling their ambitions to develop social enterprises, community and voluntary organisations or setting up community projects in Suffolk.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Suffolk will be the newest branch of the national School for Social Entrepreneurs UK (SSE), and opens its doors within the Eastern Enterprise Hub in the James Hehir Building at University College Suffolk in the New Year.

It will play a key role in transforming social enterprise activities in Suffolk and across the region and complement the work of the new Eastern Enterprise Hub which aims to support and nurture young people and the county’s entrepreneurial business potential.

Choose Suffolk chief executive Celia Hodson said it was “a fantastic coup” for the county and would support a region “that is already an established hotbed of social entrepreneurial activity. ”

“Social Entrepreneurs can work in a range of organisations, including ethical businesses, governmental or public bodies, or the voluntary and community sector,” she said.

“They all share a focus on delivering solutions with a public, environmental or social benefit to help people or communities in need who haven’t been reached by other initiatives. In the years ahead there will be an increasing need for creative and progressive individuals who can meet the challenges we face in delivering sustainable social benefits.”

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There are numerous examples of successful social enterprise businesses, including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Foundation, The Eden Project in Cornwall and, in the East of England, Craig Dearden Philips’ ‘Speaking Up’, which provides advocacy services for people with learning difficulties, mental health issues and physical disabilities.

Established in 1997 by Lord Young of Dartington, the School for Social Entrepreneurs has supported hundreds of people in creating sustainable organisations focused that have a clear focus on achieving positive social change. The new educational facilities in Suffolk will be the tenth School for Social Entrepreneurs across the UK, alongside one in Australia. Each of the schools delivers practical action learning programmes aimed at simultaneously developing individual entrepreneurs and their organisations.

An independent review to assess the impact of the work of SSE carried out by the New Economics Foundation in 2006 found that:

� 85% of all organizations established by individuals during participation in the SSE programme are still in existence after eight years. They are also over one and a half times more likely than conventional businesses to be in existence over the same period

� For every 10 individuals graduating from the SSE programme, 30 jobs and 69 volunteering positions are created in the organisations they set up.

The School for Social Enterprise Suffolk is currently in the process of recruiting staff members and now seeking dynamic students who have the drive, determination and vision to change communities, and society as a whole, through practical action and engagement.

All students who complete the SSE programme will gain lifelong membership of the SSE Fellowship with the opportunity to share ideas and best practice in real-world situations.