Because NESEP is a membership organisation covering a very large area, we’ve found that it has not always been possible to find a location and time for an AGM that suits all members.

We want this to change, so February 2015 will see NESEP’s first Digital AGM. Instead of holding an in-person meeting, we will conduct the entire process online. The online meeting will be open for several days, with participants able to drop in to take part in discussions when it is convenient for them.

Is this going to be complicated?

The process may be new, but it will be simple. The meeting will take place on a website called (which is run by a social enterprise), which will not require any special equipment or unusual digital skills. You won’t need a camera, a microphone, or even a particularly quick Internet connection to take part. We would say that if you can use email and perhaps post on Facebook, you’ll have no problems taking part in our Digital AGM.

What do I need to do now?

You can register to participate right now: just download and complete this registration form and email it to Also, keep an eye out for more emails from us: forthcoming emails will include instructions on how to participate in discussion, how to vote, and so on, as well as reminders to register!

Things will be a little different from a conventional AGM, but still, we hope, straightforward and common-sense. We’ll also give clear instructions on using the meeting website, and list some simple, sensible ground rules, to help keep everyone comfortable and happy to contribute.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in tabling motions already, or have any other questions about the process, give me an email at

Karen Stubbings (left), founder of The Wood Pile CIC, featured in Good Housekeeping, February 2015

We were delighted to spot NESEP member The Wood Pile CIC in the latest issue of Good Housekeeping. Karen Stubbings, the company’s founder, chats to the magazine about her journey into social enterprise; from being made redundant from her job as a manager for a national charity, to setting up the wood recycling project.

We’re providing a space where everyone feels confident, safe and valued. It has all been a lot tougher than I’d planned, but it is so rewarding. After feeling as if I’d been cast on the scrap heap, I feel truly honoured to be helping others see their self-worth.

The Wood Pile works to support disabled and disadvantaged people into employment, by offering training and volunteering opportunities at its warehouse in Durham. The volunteers and trainees collect, recycle and upcycle a variety of products – ranging from reclaimed beams, to fire doors, to vintage dressing tables, to decorations – to sell.

The February issue of Good Housekeeping magazine is available now. You can download a scan of the article here >>>>

Read more about The Wood Pile on their website >>>>

Co-wheels, a Community Interest Company (CIC) Head Quartered in Durham that runs a public access car club has been recognised as a leading social enterprise, shortlisted in the 2014 RBS SE100 awards.

The RBS SE100 Index is an online listing of social ventures, ranked and scored according to their growth and social impact. Each year The RBS SE100 Awards recognise social enterprises on the Index who have demonstrated some of the best business practice within the sector, celebrating the growth, impact and ambition of social enterprises in the UK.

The Growth Champion Award is given to a social business on the Index who has experienced positive, financial growth from one year to the next, the panel also look for a winner with a sustainable business model. Co-wheels has a growth percentage of 74.1% for the 2012-2013 financial year, and are ranked 12 out of 109 organisations in their turnover category of £1-5 million.

Co-wheels car club works for the benefit of communities in localities across the UK by providing an affordable alternative to car ownership. With its roots and headquarters based in Durham, Co-wheels aims for social justice, seeking to grow car clubs in all areas, not just those that are lucrative for the company, and enabling increased access to work and leisure opportunities for those who suffer from transport poverty.

The Growth Champion award is just as much about social impact as it is about expansion and success. Co-wheels has a social impact score of 7/10, putting the organisation in the top 29% of enterprises in this years RBS SE100 index for measuring and demonstrating social impact.

In the last year, Co-wheels has expanded to deliver car clubs in over 45 locations across the UK.

Richard Falconer, Director of Co-wheels said of its growth and impact: “We’ve recently expanded our operation significantly to become one of the fastest growing businesses in the social enterprise sector. This success has created investment opportunities for growth and diversifying our range of operations, from city centres to villages. Some of our car clubs are used by local authorities and universities as pool cars for staff, whilst others focus entirely on being shared cars for local residents. We now also encourage local ownership of our operations which are sometimes run as community car clubs or as one of our social franchises.

“Co-wheels also has a measured environmental impact: transport related carbon emissions and air pollutants are reduced by the provision of low-emission, hybrid and electric vehicles, and individuals and organisations are encouraged to lower their own impact by choosing alternative transport options.”

Commenting on the award, Richard said:

We’re really excited to be shortlisted for the Growth award and remain enthusiastic about our future as an organisation. In spite of our recent successes there is always room to grow and we hope to expand our services to even more communities around the UK. The SE100 Index has been a valuable tool for us over the year, and we look forward to tracking our continued growth in the social enterprise space.

Duncan Sloan, RBS Head of Community Banking, said: “ RBS has been supporting businesses set up to solve social problems for many years. The social enterprise sector is a valuable part of the UK economy and it is our aim to support its development. The RBS SE100 Index and the trailblazing newcomer award allow us to recognise the successes of new ventures. Sometimes social enterprises need funding to get off the ground, other times they need access to the right networks to ensure they can evolve. The RBS SE100 index provides just that, and is a key initiative in our commitment to the success of the social enterprise sector.”


The 2014 winners will share a £30, 000 prize fund that will be awarded at the RBS SE100 Annual Awards on the 24th November 2014, at the Good Deals social investment conference in London. The shortlist is divided into five categories: Sustainable Growth, Social Impact, Trailblazing Newcomer and the Resilience and Storyteller award.

Find out more:

A social entrepreneur has been helped to set up her own business after being inspired by a social enterprise ‘boot camp’ for North-East university students and recent graduates.

Lisa Smith, a student at Teesside University, set up Ice Nation to organise events to promote cultural awareness, integration and equality amongst different ethnic communities after pitching her business idea at a Social Enterprise Start-Up Weekend at the Northern Design Centre in Gateshead.

The weekend was organised through a Teesside University-led social enterprise cluster, comprising the five North-East Universities, as part of a dynamic effort to improve the social enterprise support infrastructure in the region. The cluster is funded through UnLtd, a support charity for social entrepreneurs, as part of its SEE Change Programme. The Social Enterprise Start-Up weekend was attended by more than 80 people including 43 students from the five Universities, as well as dozens of mentors, social entrepreneurs and industry experts. It marked the beginning of a programme of events which are designed to support and give energy to social enterprises across the region.

Over the course of the weekend, the students split into five groups and were tasked with developing an idea for a social enterprise. They were given intensive coaching and mentoring from a variety of experts including Kate Welch of Social Enterprise Acumen CIC, Amjid Khazir of Media Cultured CIC, Jamie Sadler of Food Nation CIC and Rich Myers of Transmit Start-Ups. At the end of the weekend, the teams then pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

The winning pitch was made by a team called Lift Up, with an idea for a handmade bra business. The bras would be designed and sold by women living in domestic abuse refuges. The aim of the social enterprise was not only to raise vital funds for the women and the refuge by selling the clothing, but also to increase the self-esteem of the victims. Following the pitches by the teams, Lisa did an individual pitch for her Ice Nation social enterprise after formulating the idea over the course of the weekend. The idea was extremely well received and the BSc (Hons) Business Management student is now working with Teesside University’s enterprise team to make it a reality. She said: “I came to higher education quite late and I really wanted to set up my own events management business when I leave university.

Before taking part in the weekend I didn’t really know an awful lot about social enterprise. However, it taught me to think about what I’m really passionate about and find a problem that can be helped by it. Through a combination of personal circumstances, I’ve had my eyes opened to how segregated we are as a society, so I hit upon the idea of organising events to help bring different communities and cultures together.

Lisa and her business partner and fellow Teesside University student, Hannah McGrory, are now in the process of registering Ice Nation as a social enterprise and are planning the first event, an Ice Ball at the Dickens Inn on Thursday, 5 February 2015. Her business will be supported by Teesside University start-up programmes.
Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said: “The cluster is a unique example of universities working together to support social enterprise in the region. “The start-up weekend was a tremendous success and it’s great to see a new social enterprise now taking shape. We wish Lisa every success in her venture.”

Tickets for the Ice Ball at the Dickens Inn on Thursday, 5 February, are expected to go on sale in Mid-January. For more details visit

2014 has been a very good year for Co-operative & Community Finance; the organisation has released £1.4m to co-operatives, community groups and ethical organisations since January.

Highlights include loans to the UK’s first co-operatively owned music venue, a student housing co-op, two community pubs, two wood recycling projects, a creative workers’ co-op, a video engineering co-op, two renewable energy installers, a wholefoods trader and numerous community shops.

The money has helped these organisations to set up, grow and prosper; creating and securing jobs and making a positive social and environmental impact.

There were 31 loans made in total. The largest was for £180,000 and the smallest £10,000.

The finance was drawn from the family of funds managed by Co-operative & Community Finance, including the Co-operative Loan Fund and the Co-operative Community Shares Fund.

A member of Jazz.Coop, one of the fund’s recent borrowers, said: “The finance we received was invaluable to our project. It helped us successfully complete our share issue and realise a collective dream; our co-op now proudly owns a pub in Newcastle upon Tyne, which reopened in May 2014.”

Co-operative & Community Finance is the oldest community development finance institution (CDFI) in the UK, it has been successfully managing funds and making loans in a specialist market since 1973.

Investment manager Ian Taylor said: “Other lenders in the social sector are upscaling and focusing on lending larger amounts. This has opened a gap in the market for us because we’ve always been dedicated to supporting the sector at every stage of its development, with loans of all different sizes. Our record year, and the diversity in our recent lending, shows how successful worker co-ops and community groups can be at every level.”

All of the money lent by Co-operative & Community Finance comes from individuals and organisations that support the fund’s mission: to help people take control of their economic lives and create social benefit.

Read more:

NESEP members and supporters are invited to participate in a research survey compiled by Social Enterprise Europe. The results of the survey will help Social Enterprise Europe to understand the ways in which personal assistance budgets are being applied in different countries in Europe.

Social Enterprise Europe is a small networking organisation involved in training and promoting best practice approaches to social enterprises. Social Enterprise Europe is part of an EC supported consortium with like minded organisations in several other European countries; nicknamed ‘Cleopatra’ – the Consortium under the EC’s LEOnardo programme for Personal Assistants TRAining.

The survey which should not take more than a few minutes. Please click here to complete it >>>>


Due to immense popularity and success, Social Incubator North will be re-opening for one final round. The deadline for applications is Friday 9th January, 5pm.

For more information and to apply, please visit:

This practical, comprehensive, six module course – organised by Social Enterprise Europe and York CVS – will give you the tools you need to start, grow and run a successful social enterprise. The modules are all stand alone, so you can complete them all or select the most appropriate ones for you.

Social enterprises are different from the private sector, charitable and voluntary organisations and need to develop differently. This course will make sure you get the right support, information and inspiration to develop a social enterprise plan that delivers a business that is relevant, feasible and sustainable.


  • Organisation: SERRAC Ltd
  • Salary: circa £20,000
  • Salary info: Hours negotiable. SERRAC Ltd will start trading in January 2015. Annual leave: 22 days plus public holidays. Contract: 12 months initially. Probationary period: 6 months
  • Job type: Business Development Manager
  • Status: Full time
  • Closing date: 28/11/2014
  • Location: Home Based. Ashington, Northumberland


Are you looking for an exciting opportunity to join a brand new social enterprise that will help carers and other people access the products and services they need?

The Business Development Manager will identify products and services, find the right specialist suppliers and promote and market products and services initially in Northumberland.

Working with the Board of Directors you’ll be responsible for delivering the business plan, building the supplier and customer base and growing the business. If you’re an enthusiastic and motivated self starter with a head for business who’s good with people then we’d love to hear from you.

The Business Development Manager will be responsible for the day to day running of the business and is expected to report regularly to and work closely with the company Directors. The Business Development Manager is expected to grow the business.

Serrac Ltd. will become a recognised and trusted brand offering access to a range of ethical products and services from trusted suppliers; in particular specialist advice for those with complex needs. In the initial trading year the focus will be on legal, financial and payroll services for the target market of carers in Northumberland. As the business grows new products and services will be added to the offer.

Serrac Ltd. is a social enterprise that will reinvest its profits in Carers Northumberland.

The Business Development Manager will be home based and will have access to resources at Carers Northumberland Office in Ashington.

The following are essential:

• results focused and target driven approach to work

• a proven track record of success in developing trade

• able to demonstrate success in developing and maintaining business relationships

• customer-focused attitude to work

• excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to work with people at all levels

• high level of customer service skills

• excellent oral and written communication skills

• good time management and the ability to prioritise work
The following are desirable:

• understanding of Social Enterprises

• understanding of the carers sector

• Previous business or management experience

The three main outcomes we expect the Business Development Manager to deliver are:

• A recognised business and brand

For example by:

o Co-ordinating marketing, PR and communication activities

o Developing and maintaining effective consultation and communication with customers and partners

o Managing stakeholder relationships both internally and externally

• A growing business with sustainable income streams

For example by:

o Ensuring and maintaining excellent customer service

o Understanding what products and services carers need

o Increasing the range and choice of products and services available

o Identifying and building relationships with new suppliers

o Increasing income generated through trade

• A well managed and governed business

For example by:

o Working alongside the Company Directors to develop strategy and plans

o Managing, developing and monitoring business performance

o Implementing delivery and reporting on progress made against targets

o Managing volunteers and staff assisting with practical tasks

o Liaising with and reporting to funders, auditors and completing all statutory returns to Companies House

o Ensuring systems are in place for managing financial information

o Preparing financial and performance reports for the Board

For an informal discussion regarding this post please contact: Peter Stonell on 0797 40 40 486

Organisation profile:

Serrac Limited is a referral route using a website and telephone helpline to provide affordable and easily accessible local services to those who need advice and support. It earns commission from its suppliers.

Application notes:

For application pack please contact Serrac at

For an informal discussion regarding this post please contact Peter Stonell on 07974 040486.

To apply please send CV and covering letter to before noon on Friday 28 November 2014.
Interviews will be held in early December


Social enterprise is a new model of business that combines the best of business with clear and purposeful social aims. This two-day programme will begin by exploring the dynamic model of social enterprise. You will also develop an understanding of your individual leadership and entrepreneurship qualities. Enterprising Leadership is an opportunity to discover your potential to develop more enterprising ways of engaging our community.


  • Meet like-minded people interested in making their communities more sustainable
  • Deepen your understanding of key concepts involved in social enterprise
  • Take part in lively discussions about what social enterprise means to you
  • Understand what is meant by leadership and the key responsibilities of a leader
  • Start to see yourself as a leader with a clearer understanding of your strengths and areas of development
  • Engage with 2-3 leadership theories and apply them to your situation
  • Create an action plan to apply what you learn.

This programme is aimed towards individuals aspiring to move into leaderhsip positions in the third sector, whether in a voluntary or paid role.

Duration: 2 days
Date: 28 & 29 January 2015
Time: 9.30am – 4pm
Location: Newcastle upon-Tyne
Cost: TBC

For more information, please contact: Marie Duguid – Business Development Officer: 0131 243 2697 |

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