Economy Minister calls for entries for social enterprise awards

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton endorses social enterprise awards for Northern Ireland and welcome new Social Enterprise NI Director.

Meeting at Parliament Buildings for the first time in their new roles, Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton today [Monday 20 June] welcomed Colin Jess as Director of Social Enterprise NI, as they met to discuss the importance and role of social enterprise in Northern Ireland, and opened the call for entries for this year’s Social Enterprise Awards in Northern Ireland.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said: “Developing the social economy sector is a priority and Social Enterprise NI recently secured a competitive tender to deliver a Social Economy Work Programme on behalf of my Department. The social economy makes an important and unique contribution helping to build job opportunities and encourage entrepreneurial spirit which in turn contributes to the local economy. I congratulate Mr Jess on his appointment, and wish him and his team all the best in their continued efforts to support the sector to grow.

“Recognising and rewarding social enterprise is important and I would encourage as many organisations from the sector to get involved in this year’s Conference and Awards. These Awards promote and showcase some of the best examples of social enterprise across Northern Ireland.”

The annual Social Enterprise Awards, now in their fourth year, help to promote and showcase some of the best examples of social enterprise across Northern Ireland. Each year, they attract a diverse range of applications from organisations tackling some of society’s biggest challenges. Recognising and celebrating excellence in social enterprise, and the outstanding achievements using trade to deliver social impact, they are not to be missed.

The Awards will follow a full day Conference, with both taking place on 20 October. The Awards are now open for entries. Nine categories available for 2016, and entry is free:
1.    Best NI Social Enterprise
2.    One-to-Watch
3.    Prove It: Social Impact
4.    Health and Social Care Social Enterprise
5.    Consumer Facing Social Enterprise
6.    Education Training and Jobs
7.    “Buy Social” Market Builder (Public and Private sector can apply)
8.    Social Enterprise Hubs – Client of the Year Award
9.    Social Enterprise Women’s Champion

Colin Jess, the New Director NI said: “I am delighted to join the Social Enterprise NI team at such an exciting time in the organisation’s development, and to meet the Minister to officially launch this contract.

“Our new work programme intends to bolster the existing good work and support future expansion. We will seek to collaborate more with other sectors for mutual benefit, and facilitate learning from beyond NI and the UK to help us take the social economy sector in Northern Ireland to new heights.
“We are encouraging people from the public, private and social enterprise sectors to come along to our Conference and Awards events which will take place on 20 October this year. The Awards are now open for entries.

Draperstown-based, Workspace Group was the 2015 Overall NI Social Enterprise of the Year winner and Runner up in UK Social Enterprise of the Year. Chief Executive, Brian Murray adds: “Winning in Northern Ireland and being a runner up in the UK were real privileges, and testament to the hard work of our team in achieving our goals. It is great to be recognised for our dedication to delivering the best service for our customers, while striving to have a positive impact on the communities in which we work.”

To find out more about these Awards, their impact, and to apply before the closing date of 1 July 2016, please email, or call (028) 9046 1810.