The London Borough of Sutton - with strong support from its Liberal Democrat-led council - is emerging as one of the country’s growth areas for social enterprises. These are businesses whose main purpose is to maximise the amount of social good they create balanced against their financial goals.
Now the national body for the UK’s 70,000 social enterprises, Social Enterprise UK, has recognised Sutton as a Social Enterprise Place - one of only two boroughs in London and 10 in the UK to achieve such recognition.
Sutton Council’s successful application saw praise for the borough for its Social Enterprise Network, set up three years ago to support social enterprises in Sutton and which now has more than 50 members. The Network is supported and partially-funded by Sutton Council.
Examples of the borough’s social enterprises – which trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances – include:
- The community-owned Sutton Community Farm aims to help locals have better access to fresh, healthy and sustainable food, while providing a shared space for people to cultivate skills, get exercise and make friends. Sutton Council’s public health team is currently working with the farm to bring The Sutton People’s Kitchen to Sutton High Street.
- The Vine Project is an environmental charity encouraging communities to be greener and more efficient by operating innovative reduction, reuse and recycling enterprises. It also provides training and development opportunities to socially-excluded people in Sutton and Merton. Sutton Council provides the project with funding and support.
- CVS Payroll Services
- Sutton Voice CIC
- Builders in Your Community and
- United in Dance.
The Sutton Social Enterprise Network will continue the development and growth of Sutton’s social enterprises; raising their profile through, for example, networking events; and maintaining appropriate business support for pre-start, start-up and growth.
Lib Dem Cllr Simon Wales, Sutton Council’s Deputy Leader and also the council’s social enterprise champion, said: “The buzzing social enterprise activity in our borough reinforces the fact that Sutton is a wonderful place to live and work.
“I am delighted that Sutton has received this formal recognition, which will go towards ensuring social enterprises continue to get the support they need and deserve to thrive now and in the future.”
Amanda Edge, Chair of Social Enterprise Sutton, said: “This is an important award for Sutton because social enterprises play a very significant role in the community and it really needs to be recognised and supported by the local authority.
“These enterprises offer exceptional services, goods, employment, training and support to the borough, and beyond, and profits from their hard work is reinvested back into the community.
“Sutton is very lucky to have such great enterprises in the borough and this award to Sutton Council will mean that existing enterprises and new ones will be confident that Sutton is the place to be.”