Co-ops and CICs among the winners at Social Enterprise Awards

‘The times we live in demand that we must change how we do business’

Awel Aman Tawe, Homebaked CIC and Future Directions CIC were among the winners at the UK Social Enterprise Awards, last month.

The environmental social organisation award went to Awel Aman Tawe, based in Neath Port Talbot, South Wales. It has set up two co-ops (Awel and Egni) to deliver renewable energy, community engagement and educational outcomes.

Its wind farm, Awel Coop, was commissioned in 2017 and has a range of local members including charities, rugby and football clubs, schools and the local Arts Centre. The project has been visited by over 2,000 people so far.

Egni Coop develops rooftop solar on schools, businesses and community buildings – it is aiming to install up to 5MW of solar across Wales and has a Share Offer open now which has raised £1.3m so far. 

Dan McCallum, co-founder of Awel Aman Tawe said: “We were a very small group of people in a former mining community who’ve been working at this for 20 years – we never thought we’d win this award and we are so honoured. We’re now got 1,000+ members and 20,000 indirect members through our community groups. It’s our life work to tackle climate change at a community level and this recognition will help us, and others, do more – it’s urgent work.”

The Transformative Community Business Award went to Homebaked CIC, in Liverpool. A community land trust and co-op bakery, it was set up by residents in Anfield to save a local asset and regenerate their area. Having started as a project to save their iconic neighbourhood bakery from demolition, Homebaked has developed into a thriving community-run social enterprise, providing quality jobs and reinvesting profits into the local community.

Their co-operative bakery, café and pie shop trains and employs local people at a real living wage. All surplus made by the business is re-invested in new jobs, learning and community spaces. At a time when high streets are at risk around the country, they’re realising a vision for a flourishing community-owned high street, with affordable housing and real shops run by the community for the community.

Another CIC, Future Directions, provides social care services to vulnerable adults and young people with learning disabilities and other complex needs in the north. They provide person-centred care by working with the individual, their families, and other advocates or support systems involved to determine how best to support each individual with personalised care. They believe in providing every person their own bespoke support package to meet their individual support needs.

The winners were presented with bespoke trophies made by the social enterprise, Designs in Mind, which employs people with mental health issues.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK said: “The winners of this year’s UK Social Enterprise Awards show just how inspiring and vital the social enterprise movement is.

“From tackling furniture and period poverty to taking ownership of their high streets and creating community owned renewable energy schemes– they show just how business can take on the biggest challenges we face and be a real force for good in this world.

“The times we live in demand that we must change how we do business. Social enterprises are already taking on the triple threat of the climate emergency, rising social inequalities and an economy that is failing too many people. They are showing us what the future of business can, and must, look like.”