The North East Social Enterprise Partnership represents and promotes social enterprise in the North East region; helping to deliver positive economic, social and environmental change.

For social enterprises

The North East Social Enterprise Partnership is run by social enterprises for social enterprises. We will:

  • Inform you of news, events and opportunities relevant to your social enterprise
  • Showcase your social enterprise – resulting in more enquiries for your services/products
  • Represent your social enterprise – giving you the chance to shape strategies, policies and procedures that affect your business
  • Guide you to appropriate sources of advice, support and finance – saving you time
  • Connect you with other social enterprises – increasing business opportunities and peer-to-peer support.
For development & infrastructure organisations

The North East Social Enterprise Partnership is the best source of information, expertise and contacts concerning social enterprise in the North East region. We will:

  • Inform you of all the relevant facts, figures and issues concerning social enterprises in the North East region
  • Support your organisation to work with social enterprises and with people who want to start them
  • Deliver your message to social enterprises – and theirs to you
  • Connect you with the vibrant and diverse range of people and organisations working with social enterprises in the North East region.
  • Work with us. Ask us, use us, refer to us.
Structure & Governance

The North East Social Enterprise Partnership is a company limited by guarantee and without share capital. The company is owned and controlled by its members.

Board of Directors

The membership appoints a board of directors to be responsible for the management of the company. The number of directors shall be not less than four and not more than twelve. Our current board:

  • Graeme Williams, Centre West
  • Chris Beety, Community Ventures Limited
  • Tony Kirsop, Social Enterprise Northumberland
  • Mick Marston, Community Farms and Gardens (Chair)
  • Linda Rutter, New Leaf New Life
  • Cliff Southcombe, Social Enterprise Europe
  • Debbie Lamb, Locality

Social Enterprise Members may nominate and elect six directors. Associate Members may nominate and elect two directors. Up to four other directors may be co-opted by the board. At every Annual General Meeting, all co-opted directors and one-third of the elected directors shall retire from office.

For more information about the structure and governance of the North East Social Enterprise Partnership, download the Memorandum and Articles of Association and the Directors’ Code of Conduct below.

Our team
  • Karen has 25 years’ experience in community economic development, community led regeneration and VCSE sector. Having started in community development work on some of the North East’s most disadvantaged estates, she went onto run one of the country’s first Employment Initiatives – a multi-agency task group approach to long term unemployment.

    Karen was CEO of STRIDE, a charity that focused on community led regeneration. It ran local forums that clearly put local people at the heart of regeneration from the time of Urban Programme, City Challenge and was the community partner in successful bids to all rounds of SRB. Karen currently sits on the ESIF Committee for the North East LEP and the ESIF Social Inclusion Task Group.

  • Steve is an experienced professional with over 25 years’ experience working in the public, private and social enterprise sectors. Originally a planner, he led one of the first “Planning for Real” exercises in the North East on a disadvantaged estate in South Tyneside. He also led a successful Single Regeneration Budget Round 4 bid which was notable for the extent to which it was owned and developed with the local community. He works with a diverse portfolio of social entrepreneurs and social enterprises.

  • Robin is an experienced professional, with a successful track record of delivery at senior level across the public and voluntary sectors. He has operated across the North East at local and regional levels, and has extensive experience of delivering through partnership working across public, private and voluntary sector organisations. He also works to deliver with Your Back Yard CIC, specialising in community regeneration.

  • Geof Cox has been involved in social enterprise for over 30 years, and for the last 20 years has worked as a freelance social enterprise developer and as an associate of a number of top social enterprise consultancies, including international social enterprise development organisations such as Social Enterprise Europe and NESsT.  He is also an associate member of the UK National Development Team for Inclusion.

    He is a specialist in organisational change and restructuring, especially around the start or expansion of trading activities by public or voluntary sector bodies. His work includes:


    During her time in Local government Clare led the development of some exemplar strategies, including the Benwell & Scotswood Our Place Involvement Strategy, which culminated in an Our Place Operational Plan receiving national recognition from Locality. The Our Place project involved an ‘asset based approach’ to research and analysis. This exercise included reaching the living conditions within the target area utilising data from Newcastle, City Council, Health Observatories, the office of National Statistics and NOMIS to get a good feel for the community challenges. This was supplemented by an asset review of the groups, organisations and public buildings that could support the work in a positive, collective, can- do manner. The research and analysis behind this project created a solid foundation for the involvement strategy by understanding the key community challenges and the assets in the area to have a conversation and involvement with. This recipe for involvement lay the foundations for what is now a very successful partnership that is completely autonomous of the Council and proficient it developing and delivering robust public service work.