Alston Moor in Cumbria has recently made its mark on history by being named as Britain’s first Social Enterprise Town.
This remote community consisting of just 2100 people is being labelled as a pioneer for social innovation in the UK. The town endured economic hardship when its lead mines were closed in the 1950s. In the 1980s the largest employer in the area also shut up shop, leaving this isolated town with high socio-economic needs.
However, Alston’s unwavering community spirit has pulled the town through dark times and in 2012, Alston was awarded the social enterprise town award at a ceremony run by Social Enterprise UK. Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, has stated that he hopes to see more towns and cities attain social enterprise status in the future.
In order to gain social enterprise status, a town or city needs to demonstrate a high level of social enterprise activity and be committed to grow and support social enterprises, businesses which will provide jobs and help regenerate communities and the environment.
Gareth Thomas, shadow minister for civil society, who presented Alston Moor with its Social Enterprise Town badge said “It's showing citizens and government organisations what can happen when economic power is in the hands of the people.”
This comes at a time when “The Peoples Business” report, published by Social Enterprise UK stated that social enterprises are now beginning to outperform the private sector in Britain.
Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK remarked "Social enterprise is steadily proving that it has an important role to play in bringing about an economic recovery and lasting social change”.
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