Aura Leisure was named Welsh Social Enterprise of the Year at the Social Business Wales Awards in Llandudno last night (24 September).
The event, hosted by the Wales Co-operative Centre ahead of the Social Business Wales conference, celebrated the achievements of Welsh social enterprises, co-ops and employee-owned businesses, and highlighted the positive economic and social impact that these have had on communities around the country.
Derek Walker, chief executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “In a year when it was announced that social businesses contribute more than £3bn to the Welsh economy, last night’s awards ceremony was the perfect opportunity to showcase the businesses who are playing an important role in the continuing growth of the sector in Wales.
“Some of the award winners have themselves grown through the creation and safeguarding of jobs. We wish those finalists who are competing in the UK Awards the best of luck and hope their outstanding success will inspire the next generation of social entrepreneurs.”
Aura Leisure manages the majority of leisure and cultural services in the Flintshire area of Wales, with a portfolio that includes leisure centres, libraries, museums and children’s play areas.
Employing 260 people, Aura aims to improve the quality of life of its customers through the provision of popular culture and leisure opportunities that impact positively on mental health and physical well-being. It also provides skills training, lifelong learning and employment opportunities to the local communities.
The other big category, ‘The One to Watch’, celebrates the businesses that have entered the social enterprise sector in the last two years. This year’s prize went to Community Impact Initiative, a forward-thinking social enterprise based in South Wales which supports marginalised individuals to develop personal and employability skills through the renovation of properties that are empty or at risk of becoming empty.
The winners in full:
Welsh Social Enterprise of the Year (Sponsored by NatWest): Aura Leisure
One to Watch (sponsored by Legal & General): Community Impact Initiative
Tech for good (sponsored by Doopoll): Innovate Trust
Health and social care (sponsored by Acuity Law): Down To Earth
Education, training and jobs: Fern Partnership
Environment (sponsored by BIC Innovation): Awel Aman Tawe
Consumer facing (sponsored by Cowshed): Aura Leisure