We should be proud of social enterprise

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In these never-ending days of austerity, the community, voluntary and cooperative sectors have been forced to fill the gaps of public service losses and funding withdrawals for local service delivery.

In South Yorkshire we are fortunate to see the growing presence and role of businesses committed to wealth creation and who contribute to the public good.

This is due to the sterling work of agencies like Sheffield Cooperative Development Group, Woodthorpe Development Trust, Green Estate, Community Media Association, Gleadless Valley Community Forum, and others too.

These social enterprises are collectively owned and take the form of cooperatives or other not-for-profit organisations.

They operate to quadruple bottom lines – social, economic, social and environmental, pursuing democratic decision making in all they do. They emerged as a result of losses of employment in days gone by and from social struggles to obtain services that were being denied communities and families by the state.

Others have come onto the scene in more recent times too, in order to meet newer presenting needs too.

Social Enterprises in South Yorkshire contribute extensively to the social good, creating and sustaining much-needed employment, training and provision of services and goods, while helping to boost our economy and secure stability.

The national discourse at present points to concerns at how they continue to be treated as the Cinderella in the business and public authority commissioning world, being left unsupported and thwarted by public authority entities, .

Failing to give proper regard and access to social enterprises puts them at a great risk and disadvantage and does an immense disservice to those they serve or they could potentially serve.

Enhanced ethics have to be integrated into commissioning processes as social enterprises are not big businesses, they are not-for profit and trying to do their best for our country.

Let’s not exploit or ignore them.

Treat them fairly and let’s celebrate all they do, they are a sector we should be very proud of.

Patrick Meleady