Sunderland has been hailed as one of the best places in the UK to start a social enterprise.
As the North East marks the start of Social Enterprise Week, the Prime Minister on Monday praised the city as a “beacon of social enterprise activity”, singling out a number of schemes set up in the Wearside city that are helping to tackle issues like unemployment and food waste.
And then at an event at Sunderland’s National Glass Centre on Tuesday, Social Enterprise UK CEO Peter Holbrook spoke of the dedication of people in the city to find creative ways to combat austerity.
He said: “I want to offer my congratulations. I’ve been to see some remarkable people today – people who are stepping up to the challenges that this city faces.
“It’s about time the city was recognised for the hard work that so many people do.
“It’s been a real collaboration between the council, the university, the private sector and, of course, the social enterprises themselves.”
Peter, who has spent the week in Sunderland meeting people who have made a success out of social enterprises, said there was an appetite for running this sort of business in the city.
He said: “What we’re finding is that the city is full of people who are committed to Sunderland and want it to be the best it can be.
“It has become one of the most vibrant places in the UK to start up a social enterprise.
“It’s run across the economy, with people making a success of businesses in the creative industries, in tourism, in housing, and in public transport.
“Every sector in Sunderland is working towards this.”
Peter, whose company bestowed the title of ‘Social Enterprise Place’ on the city, said it was the highest possible accolade.
He said: “It’s now the third city in the UK to have this honour, after Bristol and Plymouth, and the first in the North of England.
“It’s the highest accolade you can have.”
But Peter said that despite city’s new status, the hard work would not stop here. He said: “There has to be a commitment from all the collaborators to make sure that this part of Sunderland’s economy can continue to thrive.
“We’ve got prospective parliamentary candidates coming to visit the businesses this week. There has been a renewed commitment from local councils to really measure the current situation and allow more social enterprises to flourish.”
Social Enterprise events, sponsored by Santander, will run throughout the city all week.