The aim of the SSEER (Support for the Social Economy in the Eastern Region) DP was to develop the social enterprise sector in the region. The main DP partners include local authorities, SBS, EEDA, the Eastern Region Co-operative Council, individual SEOs, intermediary bodies in the social economy, and a mutual building society. The DP pulled together individuals and groups focused on this task. The focus was initially on the finance for the social enterprises, but it became clear that it was important to include activities like business training partnerships and business support groups. Objectives
The main objectives were to:
- Build a regional infrastructure for the social economy
- Test innovative financial models to tackle social and financial exclusion
- Develop training programmes to meet the needs of SEOs within the sector and for those intermediary agencies supporting these interventionist measures. This will build capacity and skills leading to improvement in the quality of jobs in the sector.
- Create mechanisms to fill identified gaps in provision, drawing particularly from transnational activity and co-developing new models of best practice.
- Create opportunities for existing and new sustainable networking groups, e.g: trade fairs to influence local government contract and procurement professionals and to optimise opportunities for SEOs to compete with mainstream competition.
- Create a web presence that provides information, sign-posting, trading opportunities and cluster development aimed at the SE sector.
- Ensure partners embrace all aspects of Equal Opportunities and empowerment, for example; through training and awareness raising.
- Inform policy through the SBS and other mainstream agencies - change perception and attitude to drive a sustainable mainstream approach underpinning areas of competitiveness and employment leading to a common understanding of the way the social economy can encourage labour market integration.
- Demonstrate to mainstream agencies the impact of a dynamic social economy on GDP and social inclusion.
- Create a ‘knowledge capture’ framework to create a sustainable network of SEOs and encourage quality through sharing best practice.
SSEER has influenced the regional economic and social infrastructure in delivering the project objectives. Alongside social economy practitioners, both mainstream and social enterprise support agencies were key players and aimed to fulfil a nationally recognised need. Main Outcomes
The most important and lasting development was of a regional infrastructure for the social economy built on a foundation of mutual activity – one of the underpinning principles of the social economy.
The project was situated in the Eastern Region of the UK.