Awards night cel­e­brates top so­cial en­ter­prises

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Public Sector Jobs - BY STAFF RE­PORTER

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

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