Awards night celebrates top social enterprises
A NORTH Belfast community trust has won the top title of NI Social Enterprise of the Year at an awards ceremony.
Ashton Community Trust, established in 1991, was highly commended for its social impact and took home the overall prize.
The Social Enterprise NI Awards, held at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast, celebrated the outstanding achievements of local social entrepreneurs.
Paul Roberts, CEO of the winning trust, said it was ‘delighted’ to be acknowledged for the work it does.
“Working in partnership with our colleagues in the community, voluntary and statutory sectors underpins all of this work. Ashton’s heart is in the community,” Mr Roberts added.
“Working collaboratively, sharing best practice and keeping a community development ethos to the forefront guides all of this work.”
Since the beginning of the year, the trust has created three new social enterprise start-ups which it says will help safeguard the future of the organisation.
Ashton has business to business relationships with over 600 suppliers, employing over 200 staff.
Director of Social Enterprise NI, Colin Jess, was eager to highlight the growing interest in social enterprises and was ‘overwhelmed’ by the interest in this year’s awards.
“More and more public and private sector organisations are keen, and willing, to understand the social enterprise business model,” he said.
“We look forward to increasingly working with all sectors and political parties to continue this momentum and to position the social enterprise sector as a strong contributor to the mainstream NI economy.”
The awards were sponsored by a variety of public and private sector organisations including Ulster Bank, Business Led NI and Edward & Co Solicitors.
Further details on the awards and the sector can be found by visiting socialenterpriseni.org and @socentni on Twitter.
Clockwise from top: all winners and highly commended at the Social Enterprise NI Awards; Colin Jess, director of Social Enterprise NI, Amanda Johnston, membership and networking manager of Social Enterprise NI with UTV’S Paul Clark, compere for the evening; Ciara Rea and Paul Roberts of Ashton Community Trust receiving their award for Social Enterprise of the Year 2017 from Trevor Connolly of Department for the Economy