All posts by Andrew Glover

Lancashire’s Leading Light: Selnet CEO Liz Tapner brings huge national award home to Lancashire

Liz Tapner, CEO of Lancashire’s social enterprise network Selnet, has won a national award recognising her as the UK’s most influential woman in social enterprise.

Liz was awarded the Women in Social Enterprise award at the UK Social Enterprise Awards, held on Wednesday night at the Guildhall in the City of London.

The national awards organised by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) shines a spotlight on the leading lights of the social enterprise community, recognising the outstanding achievements of businesses which trade for a social purpose.

There are approximately 100,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £60 billion to the economy each year and employing approximately two million people. They operate in nearly every sector from selling quality consumer goods to providing health and social care services.  

As the lead body representing social enterprise in Lancashire, Selnet enables Lancashire Social Enterprise to access the support and resources to aid business development and growth.

The people who make change happen

On presenting the Women in Social Enterprise award, VCSE Crown Representative Claire Dove said “just last week I was at an event marking 100 years since women had the vote. Now the third sector is leading the way for gender equality”. Notably, the shortlist of 8 leading women from the sector included two from Lancashire; Liz Tapner of Selnet and Tracey Bush, CEO of Spiral Health CIC.

Following the award presentation, Liz said:


“I am so proud to have been recognised from such a phenomenal list of women!

I’ve been with Selnet for more than 10 years and I am so honoured to represent the social enterprise sector and will continue to shout about the amazing work that happens across Lancashire.

I’ve really come a long way. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my incredible team, Selnet board of directors and everyone who has supported me on my own journey.

We’ve got big plans for the coming year so bring on 2019! “


Liz was one of the first 15 social enterprise leaders to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Social Enterprise UK in 2017. This latest award sets Liz apart as the UK’s most influential woman in social enterprise.

The Awards were hosted by award-winning comedian Mark Watson and was also attended by SEUK patron, Chris Addison, who said to the audience of social enterprise representatives:

“What you do is so thrillingly amazing. Your passion and thought and ideas and energy; you will change the world. You are some of the most impressive people I have met. I know it’s a really hard job, but you are the people who make change happen.”

Commenting on this years’ ceremony, Peter Holbrook Chief Executive of SEUK said:

“In the troubling, uncertain times we’re living in, social enterprises are a beacon of hope. They are showing that another way of doing business is possible, one rooted in the values of community, equality and fairness.

This year’s winners are testament to the strength and diversity of the social enterprise movement. It can no longer be seen as a fringe part of our economy but rather as a sector creating real impact both socially and economically.

Social enterprises are showing us what the future of business can look like.”

Social enterprise supply chain

Liz Tapner and the other winners were presented with bespoke trophies made by the social enterprise, Designs in Mind, which employs people with mental health issues. Social enterprises also supplied all the goods and services on the night, including the catering, rigging, drinks, flower displays and goody bags.

The Awards were sponsored by Big Society Capital, The British Council, The Co-op, Deloitte, Employers for Childcare, GLL, Landmarc, Linklaters, NatWest, Pinnacle, Power to Change, Prospective, PwC, Santander and Unity Trust Bank. The Big Issue, itself a social enterprise was the official media partner.


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Finance Officer – Selnet Recruitment

We are looking for a dynamic individual with experience of high-level finance to join our fantastic team in Preston.

The role:

The ideal candidate will be skilled in all aspects of finance including budgeting, managing payments and risk, and the formal presentation of financial information to the company’s board and our funders. As our new Finance Officer, you would be welcomed into our busy office, supporting the delivering of three ‘Building Better Opportunities’ projects, of which Selnet is the Lead Partner.

You will enjoy a challenge, work well as part of a team and have a strong eye for detail. As a key member of our team, you will support colleagues and partners in delivering three major partnership projects that are transforming the lives of disadvantaged people across Lancashire.

Express your Interest:

We are recruiting on a rolling basis and invite interested candidates to submit a CV expressing their interest in the role. We will invite selected candidates for an informal discussion about the opportunity and recruitment for this role will cease once the post has been filled.

The successful candidate will be subject to a six-month probationary period and it is anticipated the post will be until 31st December 2019 with potential extension subject to funding.

  • Your CV and covering letter will be reviewed against the requirements outlined in the job description and specification
  • The post is full time (37 hours per week)
  • Salary £26,821 (subject to an increase of 2% in January 2019)
  • Recruitment on a rolling basis (Previous applicants need not apply)
  • The post will commence on the successful candidates earliest available date.

Submit your CV and a covering letter:

Interested applicants can find the Job Description and Specification for the role below or can request them by email from, or by telephone on 01772 200690.

CVs and covering letters should be sent for the attention of Donna Sadler at Selnet Ltd, Unit F28, Preston Technology Management Centre, Marsh Lane, Preston, PR1 8UQ or via email to

About Selnet:

Selnet is Lancashire’s social enterprise network. We specialise in supporting and building the social enterprise sector in Lancashire and in leading multi-stakeholder partnerships that deliver real change to disadvantaged people and communities.



Finance Officer – Job Specification

Finance Officer – Job Description


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Selnet CEO shortlisted for UK Social Enterprise Awards

The Selnet team are delighted to announce that our CEO, Liz Tapner, is a finalist in the UK Social Enterprise Awards.

The Awards recognise organisations for their business excellence and contribution to society, as well as the achievements of people working at the heart of the sector. Liz is shortlisted in the ‘Women in Social Enterprise’ category, which celebrates women working in the senior leadership team of a social enterprise who represents excellence in her field of work.

Winners will be announced at an Awards ceremony and gala dinner in a central London venue on Wednesday 28 November.

On announcing the shortlist, SEUK said “Congratulations to those organisations and individuals who have been shortlisted for this year’s UK Social Enterprise Awards! Once again we had an incredible response to the Awards with so many fantastic applications. The quantity and quality of work being done across the UK is hugely inspiring and a real testament to the strength of social enterprise in this country.”


Earlier this year Liz was awarded one of the UK’s first Honorary Fellowships by SEUK.



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2018 Social Enterprise Champion

Each year, Lancashire’s Enterprise in Society Awards celebrates the outstanding contributions of one individual to social enterprise in Lancashire – and our 2018 Social Enterprise Champion award was presented to Diane Marie Price MBE, the Founder and Director of InDiGo.

InDiGo works with disabled children young people 0-25 years old and their families who are under pressure from the situations they find themselves in. Diane’s vision is a society where all children and young people with a disability are able to realise their goals and aspirations, with a right to community inclusive activities and services that support them and their families.

InDiGo was founded on Diane’s real life experiences of bringing up a son with Autism and ADHD. She has the greatest empathy for families with children with disabilities and founded InDiGo from a passion to help others in similar situations to improve their lives.

InDiGo makes a difference to the lives of disabled children/young people families and their siblings, providing families with short breaks. The children are cared for by volunteers who have been carefully chosen to look after them, creating a bond of trust, understanding. This encourages parents to expand the inclusion services available to them. Some have never been swimming, so for a child with a disability to go into the water can be a rewarding achievement.

InDiGo also provide advocacy services, offering support, encouragement and empowerment for parents and carers at meetings with social care, health, education or welfare meetings and supports them with forms and letters.

The service has been in operation for 6 years and through Diane’s work driving the service forward it has successfully achieved funding from various charitable organisations, bringing benefits the too socially deprived areas where parents face the barriers such as social isolation, financial restraint and educational limitations themselves.


“I hope that other social enterprises will be inspired to achieve their dreams and aspirations”


“I am passionate about making a difference to the lives of children and young people with a disability, and their families.  To be named Social Enterprise Champion 2018 is a true honour. Myself and the In Di Go team are absolutely delighted and feel this is a genuine reward for all InDiGo has achieved.

“The support and help from Selnet has enabled me to achieve my goals – I hope that other social enterprises will be inspired by In Di Go to achieve their dreams and aspirations.”

For more about the work of InDiGo visit



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2018 Social Enterprise of the Year

Lancashire Women’s Centres have been recognised as Social Enterprise of the Year for 2018 at the Enterprise in Society Awards in Blackpool.

Lancashire Women’s Centres work with all women but typically support those experiencing multiple and often complex needs including mental ill health, low confidence, offending behaviour and poverty.  Their ‘One Stop Shop model’ provides a female-only safe space for women, reducing the need to access multiple agencies, which can be traumatic or even impossible to navigate. 

“We are proud and delighted to have been crowned Social Enterprise of the Year!  We couldn’t wait to share the news with the rest of our team.

“Lancashire Women’s Centres are here for all women, working to ensure that they can achieve their potential, develop their skills and live safe, healthy and prosperous lives. We are committed to innovation, collaboration and creativity to achieve real and lasting change for the lives of women across Lancashire.

We are committed to the continual innovation in service design and delivery in the next 12 months. Furthermore, we recognise the significant value of collaboration and creativity as the best route to achieving real and lasting change for the lives of women.  We work with partners from all sectors, regionally and nationally to share learning and best practice.”


Every Woman Counts   #EveryWomanCounts


We believe that Every Woman Counts, with this ethos guiding all services. Our vision is that women, and their families, in the communities we serve are able to achieve their potential, develop their assets and skills and live safe, healthy and prosperous lives.

Lancashire Women’s Centres was established in 1982 in response to tackle high infant mortality rates in Blackburn. Since then their women-led organisation has continued to develop and evolve to respond effectively to the needs of women in Lancashire, expanding from one centre in Blackburn to a network of five centres across the county.

Lancashire Women’s Centres are committed to continual innovation and recognise the significant value of collaboration and creativity as the best route to achieving real and lasting change for the lives of women.

From their network of five female-only centres across the county offering a range of support services for all women across four main programme areas:

  • Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing
  • Women at Risk – supporting women in the Criminal Justice Service
  • Employment, advice and guidance
  • Skills and learning


Volunteer of the Year

Lancashire Women’s Centres’ volunteers play a vital role in ensuring that the community is embedded in their work, enabling them to reach more women and bring on board vital skills and knowledge. Sarah Harrison, a voluntary member of team was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award for her dedication, inspiration and growth within the organisation.

The Centre Manager said “Women accessing our organisation’s services place great value in the ability to be able to build a relationship with those supporting them, and in feeling that staff and volunteers understand and can relate to their experience without judgement.  Sarah is a strong role model for other women, and they hugely value her support.”


Highly Commended: INTACT
Finalists: In Di Go, Social Enterprise Solutions CIC, Urban Organic (UK) CIC and URPotential



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2018 Most Effective Collaboration

The Birchwood Centre has been recognised for excellence in collaboration at the annual Enterprise in Society Awards.

As a social enterprise, Birchwood support vulnerable homeless or young people at risk of homelessness in the Skelmersdale and wider Lancashire area. Life is hard for many in Skelmersdale, with higher levels of deprivation at all stages of life.   An area experiencing high levels of economic and social deprivation; high unemployment, limited opportunities for work and welfare reforms has impacted on many families. It is unsurprising that there are many vulnerable young people whose lives have been impacted the wrong way by family breakdown, poverty, drugs, mental health and lack of opportunity and hope for the future.


“Navigating Safe Pathways”


Birchwood provides vital accommodation for very vulnerable young people at critical points in their lives, facing a complex mix of challenges and disadvantages, to help them navigate safe pathways through to adulthood.  Underpinning this is a range of individually tailored support services to meet the needs of each young person, Birchwood provide a warm and nurturing environment that inspires, challenges, encourages and enables; supporting them to take responsibility and to become thriving, self-sufficient citizens.

Birchwood’s approach focuses on individual strengths, capabilities and talents.  Our commitment to building trusting relationships with young people, families, and partners allows us to break down barriers, assess and identify needs using various methods and techniques over a significant period; enabling transformation and change to occur at key transition points in their lives. We have evidence that clearly demonstrates the impact our work has on securing and sustaining employment, education, training, volunteering, mental and physical health, confidence, self-esteem and aspirational building.

Having worked in the local community for 40 years, the organisation is committed to improving the lives of young people, families and the local community. Their aim is to prevent youth homelessness and social isolation by empowering young people to make positive and informed choices supporting them to take responsibility and to become thriving, self-sufficient citizens.

Birchwood’s approach and commitment to changing the lives of young people has gained Birchwood a reputation as a locally rooted, credible and capable organisation well positioned to target services, engage with the most vulnerable and respond creatively to the needs of the local community.

“This has been an exciting year for Birchwood. We are absolutely delighted to have won the Most Effective Collaboration award! This recognition means everything to our trustees, staff and volunteers who demonstrate diligence, commitment and drive on a daily basis which impacts widely on the lives of vulnerable individuals.”

“We continue to strive for excellence, maintaining the passion and determination to pursue our social mission: ensuring young people and vulnerable individuals have the opportunity to thrive and grow. It is a great achievement and we feel extremely proud “

Birchwood is a growing and ambitious organisation taking the lead in innovation and forward thinking.  Birchwood have contracts with Lancashire Care Foundation Trust to provide Mental Health Crisis beds & support, a new 10-bedded facility in partnership with Tanhouse Community Enterprise an employability programme with Re-Vision Charity and the Job Centre.

Birchwood’s commitment to measuring and demonstrating impact has secured long term funding from foundations to develop and sustain core services and to develop our thriving Junk Food Café and Birchwood Counselling Services. We are delighted to announce that Birchwood have recently been awarded the highly prestigious national GSK Impact Award for our work to improve community health.


“Leading Lights”


The award was presented by Social Enterprise UK CEO, Peter Holbrook who said “Social enterprises like Artz for All, The Sewing Rooms and Preston Vocational Centre bring innovation and impact together brilliantly whilst organisations such as the Birchwood Centre and Lancashire Women’s Centres are leading lights in how civil society organisations can embrace social enterprise and yet retain their values, services and character.”

Highly Commended: Bootstrap Enterprises / Community Clothing
Category Finalists: Artz for All C.I.C, Lancashire Women’s Centres and Urban Organic (UK) CIC



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2018 Excellence in Training & Mentoring Award

The Sewing Rooms’ impact in transforming the lives of women, older people and refugees has been recognised with the Excellence in Training and Mentoring award at the Enterprise in Society Awards.

The Sewing Rooms is a small social enterprise based in Skelmersdale. The company is led by social entrepreneurs Paula Gamester and Maureen Fazal, who developed a unique business model;  that has now replicated in Halton Merseyside, and will soon be established in Devon and Cornwall through the Transform Ageing initiative (supported by the Design Council, Big Lottery and Unltd).

From their manufacturing department that makes curtains and soft furnishings for IKEA and private customers, The Sewing Rooms built a relationship with IKEA. They now provide sewing and creative activities within their stores of Warrington and Manchester Ashton Under Lyne throughout the year, using this fantastic opportunity to promote The Sewing Rooms to a wider audience/potential clients, to provides work for our staff and to generate profits to reinvest into social impact activities in Skelmersdale.

The Sew Fab Academy is the enterprise’s training department that offers popular private sewing lessons and Upholstery courses.

The Sewing Rooms engage with individuals facing multiple and complex barriers and have helped participants improve their skills and employability prospects. Two have gone into employment and the Directors are actively measuring their social impact and the progression of individuals supported through their Building Better Opportunities project work.

The income and profits generated from our diverse income streams provide skills training and resilience training for the most disadvantaged in our community.

Skelmersdale’s Sewing Rooms provide training and a safe place for a cohort of women over 50, this initiative is called the SILVER SEWERS and started 4 years ago benefitting over 60 women. This initiative has developed into a number of great community and intergenerational activities.

The company has worked with over 40 refugees, providing mindful sewing and a safe environment to connect with other women and learn new skills and enhance their English vocabulary.

Working with Talent Match and the Birchwood Centre, in this past year The Sewing Rooms have provided skills training and wellbeing initiatives for 35 young homeless  with multiple complex needs and issues. By helping them to move forward with their lives, this particular programme delivered  91% success rate whereby nearly all participants went onto full time employment or self employment.

We also deliver numerous one off social interventions in the town our latest being Age of Inspiration a wellbeing and resilience event that will help individuals over the age of 50 to stay connected and stay well.

“We are all thrilled and honoured to have won the Excellence in Training and Mentoring Award! It meant so much to us because we strive to ensure our training courses really do inspire the next generation of sewers, designers and upholsterers”

The Award was sponsored and presented by Recycling Lives. Commercial Manager David Allen said “As a Lancashire-based social business we understand the importance of social enterprise.  We sponsor the Enterprise in Society Awards to show our support for the sector and ensure social enterprises and individuals across Lancashire achieve the recognition they deserve”

For more about The Sewing Rooms visit

Highly Commended: Newground CIC
Category Finalists: Lancashire Women’s Centres and The Growing Club CIC



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2018 Volunteer of the Year

The Volunteer of the Year category received an unprecedented number of nominations at the Enterprise in Society Awards. Selnet CEO Liz Tapner presented the award to Sarah Harrison who is a volunteer for Lancashire’s Women’s Centres.

Lancashire Women’s Centres work with all women but typically support those experiencing multiple and often complex needs including mental ill health, low confidence, offending behaviour and poverty.  Their ‘One Stop Shop model’ provides a female-only safe space for women, reducing the need to access multiple agencies, which can be traumatic or even impossible to navigate.

Sarah is based at the social enterprise’s Blackpool Centre and was nominated for using her skills, life experiences and spare time to support others.

Sarah’s relationship with Lancashire Womens Centres began when she accessed a learning programme in 2015. Sarah did not speak for the first 5 weeks as she had no confidence, but worked hard to overcome a number of challenges, including becoming a mum at a young age, caring for her four children, one of whom has additional needs, and experiences of domestic abuse and mental-ill health.

Sarah now volunteers on the MindFit programme – a group therapeutic course, providing support to other learners.  She is a trained mentor supporting women on a 1-1 basis on issues such as housing, domestic abuse, or accessing training. She also leads an arts and crafts peer support group which meets weekly and works to improve emotional wellbeing and reduces social exclusion.

The Centre Manager said “Women accessing our organisation’s services place great value in the ability to be able to build a relationship with those supporting them, and in feeling that staff and volunteers understand and can relate to their experience without judgement.  Sarah is a strong role model for other women, and they hugely value her support.

Sarah shows great encouragement to other women at the centre, encouraging women to develop ambitions and consider their next steps. Our volunteers play a vital role in ensuring that the community is embedded in our work, enables us to reach more women and bring on board vital skills and knowledge. Sarah thoroughly deserves this award for all her dedication, inspiration and growth within our organisation. We couldn’t be more proud of this recognition and thankful of her support.”

“What a shock it was to win volunteer of the year! I thought I was attending to support Lancashire Women’s Centres, and was completely surprised when I saw my name up for an award. I don’t think it’s actually sunk in yet, I can’t believe I actually won. Thank you to you everyone at Lancashire Women’s Centres and Selnet for your support.”

Lancashire Women’s Centres were also crowned Social Enterprise of the Year at the event. Their Centres are located across Lancashire, working in communities of greatest need including Accrington, Blackburn, Burnley, Blackpool and Preston.

Highly Commended:
Norma Rodgers (Spiral Health CIC)
Category Finalists: Alex Kent (The Birchwood Centre), Amanda Shepherd (Spring into Action), Callum Lea (The Birchwood Centre), David Smith (UR Potential), Ian Wheelan (The Birchwood Centre), Farmeen Akhtar (Advocacy Focus) and Pip Brodest (Spring into Action)



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2018 Enabling Ability Award

Artz for All, based at the Artz Centre in Skelmersdale, have been recognised for their impact in Enabling Ability.

Skelmersdale has significantly higher numbers of children and young people compared to the rest of Lancashire, with almost 40% of 0-15 year olds living in income-deprived households – almost double the national average.

Despite elevated levels of economic and social deprivation, Artz for All are helping young people across Skelmersdale to look forward to a future that is decorated with ambition, no matter what. Up to 260 individual local young people are able to access an affordable, regular timetable of arts-related sessions in drama, dance and singing each week. The purpose of these services however, goes beyond the teaching of the arts; Artz students are fundamentally encouraged to raise their aspirations, dream big and grow as confident and capable citizens of their wider community.

The Artz Centre prides itself on providing a vibrant, engaging and safe community venue that sets out to develop, nurture and challenge disadvantaged individuals of all ages from the local community, encouraging them to turn their negative experiences into positive outcomes.

The Centre’s motto recognises that “It’s good to be different” and everyone who walks through their doors is encouraged to Aim High, Work Hard, Take Pride, Have Respect and Be Yourself.

“We were delighted to have won the award for ‘Enabling Ability’ as that is exactly what we have been doing for the past 5 years,” said Director Mark Ashton. “It was great to have the work of our team and our young people recognised at such a great event and in the company of such great Social Enterprises”.

The category was presented by NatWest in association with the Skills and Opportunities Fund. Heather Waters, Enterprise Manager, NatWest Business Banking said “It was an honour to represent NatWest and to show our support and recognition of the work that social enterprises deliver across Lancashire. Enabling Ability is the theme at the heart of our Skills and Opportunities programme, where we are working with Selnet to raise the profile of social enterprise careers and self-employment –  so it was a great category to present.  I wish Artz for All, all the winners and nominees every success for the future.”

Category Finalists:
The Birchwood Centre, The Growing Club CIC and U-Night Group (Meet’n’Match)



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