Representatives from more than 40 social enterprise businesses from across the district, and further afield, attended Mid Ulster District Council’s Driving Social Enterprise Seminar event last week.
The event, funded by the Council and organised as part of its Social Enterprise Programme, took place at the Burnavon, Cookstown on 12 October and was delivered by Workspace Enterprises Ltd.
Opening the seminar the Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Trevor Wilson said, “Mid Ulster District Council values the work of its social enterprises and the great contribution they make to the social and economic life of our District. This event provides a unique opportunity to hear from Northern Ireland’s top social enterprise leaders and how they have ensured the continued growth and success of their organisations.”
The keynote speaker was UK Social Enterprise 2011 Leader of the Year, John McMullan, MBE, OBE, Chief Executive of the Bryson Charitable Group. John inspired the audience with his experiences of developing Northern Ireland’s largest Social Enterprise Group, and also praised Mid Ulster’s strong reputation of being the regional ‘giant’ of entrepreneurship.
In addition, Brian Murray, Chief Executive of Workspace Enterprises Ltd, highlighted the importance of commercial activities to resource the delivery of community benefits and noted that Workspace’s vision was “to deliver local services that otherwise would not happen” in the Draperstown rural area.
Jenny Irvine, Chief Executive of ARC Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown, explained that key to “unlocking the potential of social enterprise” was being “adaptable to change”, delivering services based around need and indicated that ARC’s continued success was based on creating space to enable people to work together to achieve change and keeping a local focus.
The final guest speaker, Claire Ferris, Chief Executive, Work West Belfast, further endorsed the need for social innovation and adopting a new approach, “looking at things freshly from a user’s perspective, opening our eyes to opportunities and change”. She highlighted the importance of bringing the right people together to drive change adding, “if we all keep doing what we have always done then we will keep on getting what we have always had”.
Following the event attendees took the opportunity to talk to the guest speakers as well as the agencies present to find out about the range of support available.
For more information on this event, or to find out what other similar events are coming up, contact Economic Development at Mid Ulster District Council on 03000 132 132 or email [email protected].