Social Enterprise Event to Discuss Brexit and Beyond

08 November 2016 | College News

How social enterprises across Europe can continue to work together after Brexit, is the focus of an event taking place later this month.

Organised by the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network (PSEN),Brexit and Beyond: European social enterprises working together for a better world’ will look at ESSE (Employability Skills and Economic Growth through Social Enterprise), a trans-European project between the UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden.

European-funded ESSE has been developing training programmes and resources to equip educators and careers advisors to support social enterprise education in schools, colleges, universities and communities across Europe. In the UK, the project is led by City College Plymouth, in partnership with PSEN and Plymouth University.

The active networking event, which is being sponsored by Plymouth City Council along with City College, DCH, Livewell and PKF Francis Clark, will feature speakers from European social enterprises, the College and campaigning organisation, Another Europe is Possible.

Luke Cooper from Another Europe is Possible, is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University. He has been involved in numerous global justice campaigns, most recently for refugee rights, and is a frequent contributor to Open Democracy and Red Pepper. Luke will talk about how social purpose organisations are working together across Europe and highlight some of the ways in which social enterprises will be able to access European funds post Brexit.

Therese Lundgren from Swedish social enterprise, Urkraft, is in Plymouth on a field trip and will talk about her work and the value of international partnerships. She is currently involved in a project that helps long-term sick and unemployed people to get back into working life.

Paul Matthews of City College will provide an update about the ESSE Train the Trainer programme, which is being rolled out in the five countries. At the College, training for staff has looked at how social enterprise fits in with Plymouth and Europe, and how they can embed a social enterprise ethos into learning to encourage an entrepreneurial outlook in students.

Plymouth was announced as the first Social Enterprise City in the UK in 2013. The accolade recognises Plymouth’s aspiration to be a place where social enterprise transforms the economy for the benefit of all. There are around 150 social enterprises in the City working in a wide range of sectors including, education, health, arts, environment, food, finance, housing, business support, sport, social care and many more. Collectively these businesses employ around 7,000 people and bring in an income of over £500million.

“Plymouth is a hot-spot for social enterprise activity in the UK and is developing as a global social enterprise city,” said Michelle Virgo of PSEN. “We have one of the most active social enterprise networks in the country.

“This event will explore how we can continue to work across borders with our partners in Europe on joint initiatives, despite the Brexit vote. It will be an opportunity to be inspired as well as share ideas and best practice for the benefit of our communities.”

Lianne Coleman, Project Developer at City College, said: “At the College we are very much about developing employability skills in addition to vocational learning. We want to generate a thirst for doing things differently among our students; encourage them to think creatively and understand that business success can have a social benefit.

“The ESSE project allows us to share what we do with our European partners and learn from each other. Next year we are taking a group of students to Sweden, where they will have the opportunity of job shadowing.”

Brexit and Beyond is part of Plymouth’s Festival of Social Enterprise. The event is taking place on Friday 18 November 2.00pm – 4.00pm in the Mayor’s Parlour at Devonport Guildhall.  To register for this free event and to find out about all the talks and activities during the Festival, please visit

As well as City College’s involvement in the Festival, which is taking place during Enterprise Week, it is also hosting an Enterprise Lunch. Benjamin Mee of Dartmoor Zoo will be talking to invited guests about steering the zoo to charitable status by evolving cooperative partnerships with supermarkets, farmers, colleges, universities, industry and the military.

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