Category Archives: News

Bid Writing Basics Workshop

2-hour workshop tailored to social enterprises* and based on insight and experience

Thursday 21st September 2023 – Arrive from 9:45 ready for 10am start. Workshop finishing around 12pm. A great networking opportunity too!

Workshop will be held in person at the Sienna Suite, St Catherine’s Hospice, Lostock Hall, PR5 5XU.

This is a great opportunity for team members who are:

  • Relatively new to bid writing or funding applications
  • Finding it difficult to understand what funders are looking for
  • Looking for a refresher with useful hints and tips!

Join fellow social enterprise representatives for insight on the most important aspects of funding applications, common problems and how to avoid them, then Q & As and networking.

Limited places are available so book now! Call/message 07958 432165 or email

*Free to Selnet Members – £50 for non-members.



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UK Shared Prosperity Fund Projects

Selnet has been commissioned for a variety of projects, funded by UKSPF and are bringing partners together to deliver these.

Information on each project is listed below (you can scroll down or click on a project to go straight to it)


Fylde’s Community, Voluntary, Faith & Social Enterprises Baseline Study

Selnet have been commissioned by Fylde Council to provide a detailed portfolio of organisations operating in Fylde.

If you are involved in delivering support services within Fylde’s communities we are keen to talk to you. This is to provide Fylde Council with a detailed record of all local Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise organisations that are currently active in Fylde – it’s a Baseline Study for better understanding of these sectors and the contributions they make (contributing to an Objective of Fylde’s Investment Plan ‘Communities and Place’).

Find out more here.


Invest in Youth – Preston

Invest in Youth is a new project in Preston providing employability for young people aged between 14 and 24 years old.

Invest in Youth (IIY) is specifically designed to support young people aged between 14 and 24 years who live in Preston and are furthest from the labour market, to help them overcome their personal barriers to economic activity.

IIY is delivered as an intensive Key Worker support project, linked with The Lancashire Colleges and will combine and continue some of the valuable and impactful successes that local delivery partners have achieved over the last six years through ESIF projects.

Eligible participants must live in Preston (within Preston City Council’s district) and must be economically inactive (individuals are those not in work and not actively seeking work – unlike unemployed individuals who are actively seeking work).

A link to more information will be available here very soon!


Move Forward – Pendle

In partnership with Active Lancashire, Move Forward is a new project supporting Pendle residents who are out of work and aged over 25.

Delivery partners working with Selnet will support eligible residents who are furthest from the labour market, helping them overcome their personal barriers to economic activity. The project will combine and continue some of the valuable and impactful successes that local delivery partners have achieved over the last six years through ESIF projects. Move Forward is an intensive Key Worker support project.

Eligible participants must live in Pendle (within Pendle Borough Council’s district) and must be economically inactive (individuals are those not in work and not actively seeking work – unlike unemployed individuals who are actively seeking work).

A link to more information will be available here very soon!


Move Forward – Preston

In partnership with Active Lancashire, Move Forward is a new project supporting Preston residents who are out of work and aged over 25.

Delivery partners working with Selnet will support eligible residents who are furthest from the labour market, helping them overcome their personal barriers to economic activity. The project will combine and continue some of the valuable and impactful successes that local delivery partners have achieved over the last six years through ESIF projects. Move Forward is an intensive Key Worker support project.

Eligible participants must live in Preston (within Preston City Council’s district) and must be economically inactive (individuals are those not in work and not actively seeking work – unlike unemployed individuals who are actively seeking work).

A link to more information will be available here very soon!




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Last Chance to Share Your Insight in Fylde’s Community, Voluntary, Faith & Social Enterprise (CVFSE) Study

Fylde Council’s Community, Voluntary, Faith and Social Enterprise Feasibility (CVFSE) and Baseline Study, fully funded by Fylde’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation is well underway.

Selnet Ltd were commissioned at the start of summer to help Fylde Council fully understand the roles and contributions that the CVFSE sectors play within the Borough – visit Fylde’s news article encouraging urging as many organisations as possible to respond.

Project Engagement Lead for Selnet, Rachel Coupe said:


“Over the past 2 months I have met over 100 people in CVFSE organisations across Fylde – I’ve heard from such a variety of community groups and voluntary work.

We’ve contacted over 400 organisations and have insight from faith organisations and social enterprises – and so many fantastic examples of their impacts.

Are you involved community, voluntary, faith or social enterprises in Fylde? Please include your organisations and insight in a survey for Fylde Council as soon as possible!”


Initial findings have already demonstrated that Fylde Borough has a diverse Community, Voluntary, Faith and Social Enterprise Sector, with more than 400 groups and organisations located so far.

However, we know there are more, and we need your help in ensuring we make contact with as many as possible!

Chief Executive Officer of Selnet Ltd Liz Tapner, said:


The response so far has been amazing!

What we really need to see now is if there are any gaps in provision. When our research is complete we will be able to boast about the real impact that the sector has in Fylde.

– So, please if you haven’t already, do take the survey and have your say!


If you are a volunteer led organisation and want to find out more about the study, please visit to fill in the questionnaire.

Alternatively, visit @SelnetLtd across social media, contact Selnet through or the Community Team at Fylde Council at We would love to hear from you.

This UKSPF funded project is expected to conclude with a final report in Autumn 2023. Click here visit Selnet’s project page for more information as we complete this project.




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Selnet are named in the UK’s top 100 social enterprises – for the fifth year!

In 2005 Selnet was established by a group of Social Enterprise practitioners who recognised support needed for their sector to flourish. The network has since gone from strength to strength, all managed by social enterprises, for social enterprises:


It is absolutely overwhelming to receive this recognition – everything we do is to secure opportunities for social enterprises to deliver their crucial work.

Our team works hard to build the professional reach of social enterprises across Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen. We are a membership network – our Expo event in January, workshops and promotion – we secure specialist advice and support for our sector – like DR!VE and Two/Zero – we enable partnership opportunities – like Building Better Opportunities and Under One Roof – and promote, highlight and celebrate our sector – especially through our Enterprise in Society annual awards event!


Liz Tapner MBE, Selnet CEO

Selnet’s work, from project management of partnerships, bidding for contract opportunities, accessing practical training and more – is all for their sector to connect, develop and grow.

Photos in our header above include:

  • Our Social Business Expo on 17th January 2023 in Blackburn Cathedral
  • Our “Building Better Opportunities” programme partnership meeting at Blackburn Rovers conference room on 12th January 2023
  • International Women’s Day photo for a post of our team members Rachel Coupe, Alison Davies, Tracy Worden, Jill Blanshard and Maryam Patel
  • Our 2022 Enterprise in Society awards event promoting our Award Winners on 4th November 2022
  • NatWest SE100 Awards logo in formal announcement of 2023 winners
  • CEO Liz Tapner MBE, Volunteer of the Year Kizzi from Spring Into Action, and Membership Lead Officer Yvette Holden at our annual Enterprise in Society awards


SE100 2023

Applicants to this year’s SE100 have also painted a positive picture in terms of their outlook for the future – despite shrinking profits and continued worries about winning enough business, gaining investment and surviving the cost of living crisis.

This year’s SE100 Top 100 includes businesses and trading charities from across the UK delivering a diverse range of goods and services, from jobs and training to books, bread, period products, cycling and clean energy.

The list was selected according to a number of different criteria to reflect both business and impact issues – including financial performance, how thoroughly they measured and managed their impact, and their commitment to both climate issues and to taking positive action on equality and diversity.

The NatWest SE100 Index was created by Pioneers Post in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, the bank’s independent social investment charity.

In our special feature today, you can search through the 100 either by viewing images they have selected to sum up their stories, or using the alphabetical list below.

Megan Virrels, CEO of NatWest Social & Community Capital, said:


“A huge congratulations to all those named in this year’s NatWest SE100 list. Social & Community Capital has been committed to supporting UK social enterprises for over 20 years, and we are constantly inspired by the resilience, ambition, and creativity that we see in the sector.

So we’re delighted to partner with Pioneers Post again to showcase the very best social enterprises across the UK and recognise the fantastic work of these impactful organisations.”


To enter the SE100 Index applicants were asked to complete our detailed SE100 Social Business Survey, which was carried out online between March and May 2023.

Altogether, the total revenues of those who entered the SE100 this year came to almost £512m. This figure represents significant growth compared to total revenues the year before of £393m. However, while turnover shot up, the total profits actually slid down – from £9.3m to £8.3m – perhaps suggesting that the money that social businesses are generating is having to be spread more thinly.

Despite finances appearing to be tighter for social businesses this year, the overall attitude expressed by those in our survey was far from gloomy. Some 90% told us they were making a more positive impact than the year before and three quarters said they were feeling optimistic about the future.

The biggest barriers to growth they identified were winning contracts and access to capital/investment, with staff recruitment/retention and the cost of living crisis also mentioned by many respondents.

Tim West, founding editor of Pioneers Post, said:


Like all businesses, social enterprises are dealing with the continued pressures and uncertainties of the cost of living crisis and other challenges that won’t go away any time soon – whether it’s about key contracts being renewed or the continued fallout from Brexit and its impact on staffing.

Running a social business is perhaps more challenging than ever before, and we know that a number of social investors, for example, have been bracing themselves for more of their investees to fail.

“But if we know anything about social entrepreneurs, it is that they are dedicated, resilient and full of positivity. What they seem to be telling us in this year’s SE100 survey is that they will use every ounce of their energy, skill and creativity to find solutions in the face of the hardest challenges, in service of their communities and their social mission.”


The NatWest SE100 also includes awards for leading social enterprises across seven categories. The finalists were announced last week and the winners were revealed at a special awards evening hosted by NatWest in London on 10 July. This was a hybrid event delivered both in-person and online.




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Calling all Fylde Community, Voluntary, Faith Groups and Social Enterprises

Selnet have been commissioned by Fylde Council to provide a detailed portfolio of organisations operating in Fylde – read our most recent news article here.

If you are involved in delivering support services within Fylde’s communities we are keen to talk to you. This is to provide Fylde Council with a detailed record of all local Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise organisations that are currently active in Fylde – it’s a Baseline Study for better understanding of these sectors and the contributions they make (contributing to an Objective of Fylde’s Investment Plan ‘Communities and Place’).

The questions we will ask are all about:

  • Your organisation – what do you do? How does your organisation support Fylde residents/groups?
  • What your priorities are as an organisation? (e.g. support for carers, providing community engagement for isolated people)  
  • What your limitations are? (e.g. limited experience in securing funding, bid writing, starting partnership projects etc)
  • Any gaps in community support that you are aware of? (e.g. access to transport, religious groups, children/adults with special educational needs?)

We respect privacy of everyone we work with and will anonymise insight as necessary.

As a first step, please complete this questionnaire:

After you have submitted this information, our team member Rachel will contact you to hear more about your work, your priorities, any limitations and your insight into Fylde’s community needs.

If you have any questions, or would like to talk about this project please let us know – call 01772 200 690 or email



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Digital Freedom 2023

Introducing Digital Freedom 2023!

Selnet and Lancashire’s Digital Skills Partnership have secured funding through Lancashire County Council to support vulnerable residents aged 18 and above who are Digitally Excluded.

This project is gifting digital devices (tablets/laptops) with internet connection and skills support to enable Lancashire residents to engage with digital health services. Here are some testimonials from beneficiaries:


A combination of barriers that can be addressed in partnership;

  • Support eligible Lancashire individuals with no digital device by applying on their behalf.
  • Enable online access for Lancashire residents with no connection to the internet, or who are unable to afford a data package.
  • Provide support and training to make effective use of these resources including accessing information to save money, accessing health related information and services and to attend health related appointments.

Applications for organisations to be Distribution Partners are now open – For more information and to apply please complete the Partner Application form below and return this to  as soon as possible.

Selnet’s role is securing and managing opportunities for funded work for social enterprises, so you can focus directly on your specialist work with disadvantaged people across Lancashire. For information about this project please send your enquiry to





Digital Freedom 50+ (archived)

In 2020, during the Covid pandemic, Selnet and the Lancashire Skills Hub secured funding from the Community Foundation for Lancashire, to provide digital devices and connectivity to disadvantaged over 50s in Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen.

Over 40 organisations working with local residents applied and became Distribution Partners, who submitted applications for support on individual beneficiaries’ behalf. The funding for this project secured a limited number of devices for residents in every district in the County, ensuring residents across the 14 Lancashire districts could be supported.


 At the end of 2020 the project team had allocated 510 devices for older people who had been digitally excluded, helping connect them with people and services during lockdowns.

Find out more about Lancashire’s Digital Skills Partnership and support available through Lancashire Libraries.

Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership was announced as the Winner of the Digital Leaders 100 Award in 2020.


Case Study

Click here to read feedback from a mature man whose life was transformed when he received a device and support from project partners




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Selnet Social Business Expo 2023

Selnet would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Councillor Suleman Khonat, all our exhibitors, speakers & attendees at our much awaited Social Business Expo 2023 on Tuesday 17th January.

It was a huge success and so nice to see everyone together, sharing information & showcasing their work.

To see pictures from the day, check out our gallery below.



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Selnet Awards 2022 And the winners are…

Lancashire social enterprises celebrated and promoted for their phenomenal impacts and achievements!

The story from Twitter

And the winners are!


Startup Social Enterprise of the Year winners Beanstalk Business Support CIC​ ©Andy Ford


Winner – Beanstalk Business Support CIC​

Beanstalk Business Support CIC is passionate about helping businesses become stronger, sustainable and profitable. Our trading enterprise delivers business support and administration services to entrepreneurs, start-ups, not-for-profits and SMEs. In addition, we provide employment, apprenticeships and work experience opportunities, with job coaching and pastoral support, helping people towards employment.

Highly commended award presented to UDevelop

Shortlisted were Beanstalk Business Support CICEnterprising HabitsNo Whispers CICRainbow Youth CentreUDevelop



Small Social Enterprise of the Year winners Let’s Grow Preston ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Let’s Grow Preston

Let’s Grow Preston is a charity, established in 2011, whose aims are to improve and maintain for the benefit of the inhabitants of Preston (defined as the PR postcodes) and its visitors, the gardens, landscaped areas, open spaces, playing fields, playgrounds and recreational amenity spaces with the object of improving the conditions of life of the public by providing resources and support which are ancillary to those provided by the local authority.

Highly commended award presented to His Provision CIC.

Shortlisted were Barks & RecreationDivine Days Community CICLet’s Grow PrestonHis Provision CICPreston Domestic Violence ServicesSelf-Advocates Training PartnershipWEAREHOPEST CIC (Hope Street)



Large Social Enterprise of the Year winners Recycling Lives Social Enteprise ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Recycling Lives Social Enteprise

Recycling Lives Social Enterprise is changing lives. Our rehabilitation programmes equip people with skills and confidence to improve their lifestyles and employability and reduce re-offending rates. Our food redistribution work supplies charities and community groups with goods to feed people in need, tackling food poverty while also preventing food waste.

Shortlisted were Active LancashireChild Action NorthwestCommunicate SLT CICLancashire WomenRecycling Lives Social EnterpriseShelter Lancashire



Work or Training Social Enterprise of the Year winners Active Lancashire ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Active Lancashire

Our application focuses on Active Lancashire’s Pendle YES Hub (PYH) and Rossendale Works (RW), two employment and training programmes we designed in partnership with councils, the DWP and others, with our colleagues delivering services.

PYH launched in February 2021 as a base to support young people in Pendle affected by Covid-19, offering tailored access to courses, work opportunities, and health and wellbeing activities.

RW launched in 2018 to reduce unemployment in Rossendale. Alongside one-to-one coaching and job fairs, it offers a skills course in collaboration with employers, featuring interviews at the end.

Shortlisted were Active LancashireCalico Enterprise LtdDivine Days Community CICGroundwork CLMLancashire MindRecycling Lives Social EnterpriseRenaissance UK Ltd



Social Enterprise Employee of the Year winner Dominic Hawke CANW ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Dominic Hawke CANW

“Dominic goes above and beyond with his participants on his caseload to make sure that they are supported throughout their journey. He is helpful, cheery and a team player and does not let his barrier of being partially sighted get in the way of work; from helping us move furniture within the office to picking up young people in a taxi ensuring they are supported with appointments.”

Shortlisted were Aisha Sharif – Lancashire Women, Amanda Cane – URPotential, Ammara Jamil – Community CVS, Angie Thomas – URPotential, Bushra Nawaz – CANW, Carl Simms – CANW, Dominic Hawke – CANW, Jez Palmer – CANW, Louise Taylor – CANW, Maira Butt – Lancashire Mind, Maria Corr – Calico Enterprise Ltd, Michelle Dixon – CANW, Rachel Denby – Groundwork CLM, Sally Hardaker – URPotential



Striving for Equality Award winners Renaissance UK Ltd ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Renaissance UK Ltd

Renaissance-UK supports all members of the LGBTQ+ community, those suffering with substance misuse and issues around sexual health, which naturally encircles complex mental health issues. There is a constant drive and unwaivering focus to ensure all strands of equality are recognised and advocated for.

Highly commended award won by Calico Enterprise Ltd

Shortlisted were AFC Fylde Armed Forces ProjectCalico Enterprise LtdDivine Days Community CICLancashire MindRenaissance UK Ltd



Environmental Champion of the Year winners Child Action Northwest ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Child Action Northwest

CANW promotes environmental sustainability across our services and is committed to reduce waste, limit energy consumption and procure sustainably. An Environmental Task and Finish Group convenes bi-annually to monitor / review agreed organisational targets.

Shortlisted were Child Action Northwest and Shared Future CIC




Volunteer of the Year winner Kizzy Felstead of Spring into Action ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Kizzy Felstead Spring into Action

“Kizzy is one of a group of ambassadors, all of whom have lived experience of a learning disability, physical disability or autism. During lockdown, the group did lots of work to promote friendships via zoom, they spoke to people in the NHS and organised a friendship conference which took place in November 2021 when people were able to gather in larger groups. Kizzy has shone over and above in her role as a volunteer ambassador, taking it upon herself to organise the other ambassadors, as well as supporting them both within sessions and outside of sessions.”

In recognition of the shortlisted candidates’ work, special recognition certificates were awarded to Caroline Roberts – Spring into Phab, David Smith – URPotential, Emma Swanson – Lancashire Women, Katie Middleton – His Provision CIC, Nicola Larnach – Calico Enterprise Ltd, Reagan Kelly – Divine Days Community CIC, Sarah Cewe – Rainbow Youth Centre



Social Enterprise Champion 2022 winner Martin Needham​ of Rainbow Youth Centre ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Martin Needham​ Rainbow Youth Centre

Martin established the Rainbow Youth Centre after personal experience made it clear to him that help and advice surrounding Trans / LGBTQI+ issues, and mental health in children, was incredibly hard to obtain and harder to access. Having closed his business to concentrate on providing support in this area, Martin self-financed the youth centre for the first 2 years.

Shortlisted were Karen Livesey – No Whispers CIC, Mandy Taylor – Lancashire Women, Martin Needham – Rainbow Youth Centre, Wesley Partington – AFC Fylde Community Foundation




Social Enterprise of the Year 2022 winners Communicate SLT CIC ©Andy Ford

Winner –
Communicate SLT CIC

Communicate SLT is a Community Interest Company providing high quality speech, language and communication services and training, predominantly in Lancashire. We empower individuals aged 0-25 years directly and through others, using high-quality, evidenced-based approaches to maximise impact where they live and learn. Our mission is to enable effective communication for all to improve children and young people’s inclusion, independence and life chances.


The final category shortlisted 27 social enterprises from all categories entered at the 2022 awards.


A huge thank you to our Sponsors

On behalf of all our members, Selnet Directors would like to thank the following organisations for supporting the Social Enterprise in Society Awards 2022!




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DR!VE was an ambitious project, designed and managed by Selnet, aiming to support more than 200 new-start and existing businesses to grow in Lancashire over two years.

This project is no longer taking new referrals, however –

  • Selnet was founded by social enterprises, for social enterprises – our specialist support is available for our sector. We may be able to support you through a funded programme free of charge, or if you are not eligible, we will give you a transparent quote of the cost.
  • If you are a private sector/mainstream business looking for advice and support and we can redirect you based on your needs.

Whether you need start up or growth support, or advice on operating a successful social enterprise, get in touch to see how we can help. Phone us on 01772 200690 or email


DR!VE’s Journey

We were delighted to head up our partnership of qualified business advisors whose professional support helped turn good business plans into business for good. We designed DR!VE and planned our DR!VE targets from our experience and our well-established track record (visit Two/Zero, Boost and NatWest Skills and Opportunities).

Our partnership of friendly and approachable advisors spent up to two days supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs to increase the chances of their business thriving and surviving, including help starting up, growing businesses, creating new work and guidance to wider support. The was tailored to the needs of each participant, at no cost to them (funded by the European Regional Development Fund with support from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government).

Specialising in supporting social enterprises, DR!VE was delivered to help get business moving in Lancashire.


DR!VE’s Highlights:

Selnet are delighted to share our partnership’s fantastic outcomes:

  • 3,438 hours provided engaging in business advice – covering a range of activities including one-to-one business development support, identifying routes to market, aftercare support and referrals to specialist providers.
  • 797 clients will have been supported by the close of this project (forecasted).
  • New businesses start up: We exceeded our target for potential entrepreneurs who went on to set up a business – 90% of the pre-starts we supported then began a new business or social enterprise.
  • New jobs created: DR!VE will overachieve our jobs target and increase employment through 111 roles. GVA background: As the programme supports 111 new jobs this should equate to an increase in GVA per annum of £2.4million pounds.
  • Value for money: DR!VE provided value for money with a net economic return of £16 for every pound invested.
  • Raising awareness of Social Enterprise: One of the key impacts Selnet had was in raising the profile and awareness of Social Enterprise. One business advisor commented, “everyone has a different understanding of social enterprise”. With so much confusion around the sector, it was imperative to have advisors who could help shape the sector and guide people through the process start to finish.


Our DR!VE for Lancashire

DR!VE was designed to provide access to support for under-represented groups and understands that best practice is a continual process which will continue to evolve over time.

  • Focus on disadvantaged areas: 60% of businesses supported through DR!VE are in the most deprived half of the UK. Deprivation is a key issue in Lancashire, identified in the original project rationale, “In Lancashire, 2 of the 14 local authority areas are in the most deprived 10% of the lower-tier local authorities within England (IMD rank of average rank measure). A further two local authorities are both in the most deprived 20%.”
  • Enabling Female leadership: 53% of businesses supported were female-led. Women are still very underrepresented in business, a recent report commissioned by Boost, Growing Women, Growing Lancashire revealed that only 19% of businesses are led by women and only 20% of directors are women.

Manufacturing sector in DR!VE is female dominated. The other highest female dominated sectors included administration and support sectors and education. Overall, the balance of genders was even across the sectors with the exception of construction and the motor trade.

  • Clients with disabilities: Overall, the project has reached an average of 10% of disabled clients. “The disability employment rate was 53% in 2021, compared to 81% for non-disabled people.” Disabled workers move out of work at nearly twice the rate (9%) of non-disabled workers (5%), and unemployed disabled people move into work at nearly one-third of the rate (11%) of unemployed non-disabled people (27%).
  • Clients from ethnic minority backgrounds: 10% of clients from an ethnic minority backgrounds. The increase in ethnic minority enquiries really started to take off in December 2022, whatever activities the project team carried out at this time did work well at reaching a wider range of potential entrepreneurs.
  • The arts attracted higher number of disabilities and ethnic minorities, although this was a very small sample, it would be useful to continue to monitor this. Other service activities were the most dominant sector in DR!VE, but they were reaching low numbers of ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.


Project Evaluation

We will share insight and feedback on DR!VE in the coming weeks, starting with this feedback is from the CEO of Mandus House:


Business Expo event

At our Business Expo in January 2023, Selnet had clearly thought about what their clients needed and quite a few of the speakers focussed on inspiring and building confidence.

One speaker talked about “the truth about motivation is that no one really motivates you… you motivate yourself” and shared the top tip that if you think of public speaking as just sharing information with people it may remove some nerves.

Ultimately, it was clear that the social enterprise sector is connected around Selnet, as one speaker commented, “This sector works well in partnership.  It is very important for social enterprise.”




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Selnet Awards 2021 Winners Article

Lancashire’s social enterprise teams “perform miracles:
day after day after day”

Social Enterprises across Lancashire celebrated and promoted for their phenomenal impacts and achievements throughout Covid at the Enterprise in Society Awards 2021

On 2nd December 2021, at the Crow Wood Hotel, Burnley, Selnet’s 10th awards event for social enterprises highlighted how social businesses adapted services to Covid challenges, in order to continue supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people across Lancashire.

Selnet is the lead organisation representing social enterprises across Lancashire, increasing our sector’s competitiveness, sustainability and impact. We support and enable the vital work of frontline social enterprises, from training, to contract delivery and enabling partnerships.

Social enterprises across Lancashire have gone above and beyond expectations in response to Covid-19, helping people in crisis and keeping lives together. Our phenomenal sector deserves the recognition, celebration and wider promotion, joining together and sharing impactful stories in person at the Enterprise in Society Awards 2021.

The story from Twitter

And the winners are!

Start-Up Social Enterprise of the Year

Sponsored by The Sewing Rooms

Start Up Social Enterprise of the Year 2021, sponsored by The Sewing Rooms, awarded by co-Directors Paula Gamester and Maureen Fazal to Growing Resilience CIC:

Startup Social Enterprise of the Year winners Growing Resilience CIC ©Andy Ford

“We are just under a year old, set up to support people around mental health. Teaching people how to cook with foodbank items, horticulture, introducing different concepts of mental health, meditation, conflict resolution, chaotic lifestyles, becoming physically and mentally better, working with UCLan to support LGBTQ+ communities and homeless people.” Glen Duckett, Growing Resilience CIC.


Highly commended award presented to We Be Kids CIC (collected by Suzanne Murray, Groundwork)

Shortlisted were Beanstalk Business Support CIC, Growing Resilience, Mindsight and We Be Kids CIC.


Small Social Enterprise of the Year
Presented by awards judge Adam Holden

The category ‘Small Social Enterprise of the Year’ category was highlighted as the category celebrating ‘the lifeblood of our sector’, presented by judge Adam Holden and awarded to Divine Days Creative Arts:

Small Social Enterprise of the Year winners Divine Days ©Andy Ford

We tackle inequalities with health, working with people with complex needs or disabilities, helping them access social entrepreneurship we use the arts predominantly. Everyone in our category is phenomenal, so we are just so thrilled, everyone is just absolutely wonderful, and we are absolutely honoured!” Katie Whitehead, MD.


Highly commended award presented to Let’s Grow Preston.

Shortlisted were Barks and Recreation, Brew Me Sunshine, Divine Days Creative Arts, Let’s Grow Preston and SHAPE Lancashire.


Large Social Enterprise of the Year
Sponsored by Unity Trust Bank

Large Social Enterprise of the Year category was sponsored by Unity Trust Bank, and announced and presented by Margaret Porter to Furniture Matters:

Large Social Enterprise of the Year winners Furniture Matters ©Andy Ford

“I didn’t expect this at all, we’re 20 years old, we work in Morecambe and the surrounding area of Morecambe, through Covid we really came into our own, what we’re about is helping people in need, in crisis, – where others closed around us, we kept on going and honestly, we had a really great 18 months!” – Steph Buchanan, Manager at Furniture Matters.


Shortlisted were Child Action Northwest, Furniture Matters (Calico Enterprise Ltd), Intact, Lancashire Women, Recycling Lives Social Enterprises and Travel Assist.


Social Enterprise Covid Hero
Sponsored by Recycling Lives Commercial

The Covid Hero category recognises the great efforts that organisations have gone to over the last 18 months; the new category Covid Hero, presented by David Allen on behalf of the sponsor ‘Recycling Lives Commercial’ to @TheGrange Community Centre:

Social Enterprise Covid Hero winners @TheGrange Community Centre ©Andy Ford

“The Grange is right sat the centre of Grange Park in Blackpool, we support the residents of Grange Park, during Covid while services closed, we stayed open and we supported the people that were the most vulnerable – most of all what came to light out of it, is there are some very vulnerable people who were not known to use before Covid, but now they are known and have support and care put into place so a lot of good has come out of the work that was done during lockdowns – we did meals on wheels, Christmas dinners, housed people off the streets – and that support just continues and continues. We’re very proud of what we do!” Ellen Ryan @TheGrange

Alistair Clarke reflected the crowd’s response: “Amazing, amazing organisation!”


Shortlisted were CANWe Solutions CIC, Intact, New Era Enterprises, The Sewing Rooms and @TheGrange Community Centre.


Work and Training Social Enterprise of the Year
Sponsored by Livv Housing

The Work and Training Social Enterprise of the Year category was presented by judge Paula Brown on behalf of sponsor by Livv Housing to Brew Me Sunshine.

Alistair Clarke said “The winners can’t be here tonight – why? Because they’re on their Christmas party!”

Work and Training Social Enterprise of the Year winners Brew Me Sunshine, from Facebook (post Awards)

VideoThank you very much for this award, it means so much here to us at Brew Me Sunshine, it’s been really rewarding to see our volunteers overcome their challenges and develop their confidence and skills throughout our training schemes – it’s been even greater to see one of those volunteers join our team as a member of staff, who will also get a  well-deserved nomination in one of the other categories this evening. We are incredibly proud of our team and we are not just a café that serves a cup of coffee and delicious cakes. We continue to be a safe, accessible community space for some of the most isolated members of our community. Thank you again and you are all very welcome to see us here at Brew Me Sunshine to celebrate the hard work of all of those this evening”
Claire Lloyd – Cafe Manager


Shortlisted were AFC Fylde Community Foundation, Brew Me Sunshine, Calico Enterprise Ltd, Child Action Northwest, Recycling Lives (Social Enterprises) Ltd and Social Enterprise Solutions.


Social Enterprise Employee of the Year
Awarded by Selnet Membership Lead, Yvette Holden

Employee of the Year, presented by Selnet Membership Lead, Yvette Holden, awarded to Natalie Hall of CANWe Solutions.

Social Enterprise Employee of the Year winner Natalie Hall of CANWe Solutions, award accepted by Michelle Dixon ©Andy Ford

Accepting the award on her behalf was Michelle Dixon, Head of Service at Child Action Northwest: “I have the pleasure of working with Natalie and her team. She’s heavily pregnant and was advised to take some time off to rest! Working with Natalie she’s amazing, she gives her all to everything – on behalf of Natalie thank you very much!”


Shortlisted were Carl Simms of Child Action Northwest, Craig Kirby of The Sewing Rooms, Jez Palmer of CANWe Solutions CIC, Julie Smith of SHAPE Lancashire, Natalie Hall of CANWe Solutions CIC and Vicky Hutchinson of Lancashire Women.


Striving for Equality Award 
Sponsored by Calico Enterprises

The Striving for Equality award was sponsored by Calico Enterprises and presented by Sam Howarth to Equalities and Justice Northwest.

Striving for Equality Award winners Equalities and Justice Northwest ©Andy Ford

Presented to Zed Ali, Chief Officer: “We help organisations in the public, private and voluntary sector to implement best practice policies that promote equality. We provide advice and advocacy on a whole range of practical issues and we are absolutely blown away to win this award, all I can say is thank you!”


Shortlisted were Child Action Northwest, Equalities & Justice Northwest and URPotential.


Environmental Champion of the Year
Presented by Chair of Selnet, Graham Jones

Environmental Champion of the Year winners Recycling Lives Social Enterprise ©Andy Ford

The Environmental Champion award was awarded to Recycling Lives Social Enterprise, and presented by the Chair of Selnet, Graham Jones:

When asked how he would sum up what Recycling Lives’ actions are, he said:

“I think that in a nutshell, I have a team that perform miracles, day after day after day”. Alasdair Jackson, Operations Director at Recycling Lives.


Shortlisted were Furniture Matters (part of Calico Enterprise), Let’s Grow Preston and Recycling Lives (Social Enterprises) Ltd.


Volunteer of the Year
Presented by Selnet’s Deputy CEO, Donna Marshall

Volunteer of the Year winner Jessica Marina Bridge of Renaissance UK ©Andy Ford

The Volunteer of the Year award was presented by Selnet’s Deputy CEO, Donna Marshall, who invited all shortlisted nominees to the stage for recognition of their work, and then announced the winner of the category as Jessica Marina Bridge of Renaissance UK.

“I’m a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and I work with Renaissance UK, volunteering hours with them, I work with individuals suffering with sexual health issues, trauma, addiction, drugs, alcohol and the LGBTQ community as well, so I was working with them while I was qualifying as a CBT therapist and since then I’ve been volunteering my hours ever since. I couldn’t imagine not being with them, they’re just a brilliant team! – Jessica Marina Bridge, Renaissance UK.

Volunteer of the Year Highly Commended  & Winner ©Andy Ford

In recognition of the shortlisted candidates’ work, awarded highly commended certificates were presented to Beryl Lymer of Spring into Action, Donna Hannigan of URPotential, Katy Smith of Child Action Northwest, Krysti-Ann Monroe of Lancashire Women, Tina Calderbank of SHAPE Lancashire and Yasmin Shakir of PUKAR.



Social Enterprise Champion 2021
Presented by 2019 Champion Paula Gamester

Paula Gamester of The Sewing Rooms in Skelmersdale was the Social Enterprise Champion winner in 2019; Selnet’s last Awards ceremony due to Covid. Paula presented this award, saying: “I am absolutely delighted to announce that the 2021 Social Enterprise Champion is Tony Carr”:

Social Enterprise Champion 2021 winner Tony Carr of Social Enterprise Solutions CIC ©Andy Ford

Tony was very surprised, and on accepting the award, said “It’s very kind and thank you to the judges, and everybody who has been involved in this awards ceremony. I’m very lucky – I’ve had 2 careers, my first career was 30 years as a retailer, then I moved to our sector and its given me enormous job satisfaction, because now I enjoy going to work and I enjoy the results of the work, which is something that never happened before.

That work was all money-based, and this is about people. Job satisfaction is everything: when we can see the fruits of our work and see that peoples’ lives have changed. So, thank you very much for this award!”

Shortlisted nominees were Annie Wynn of Let’s Grow Preston, Dave Scholes of Mindsight, Linda Markey of URPotential and Tony Carr of Social Enterprise Solutions CIC.


Social Enterprise of the Year 2021
Sponsored by Social Enterprise UK

The final category, sponsored by Social Enterprise UK, shortlisted 27 candidates from all social enterprises shortlisted at the 2021 awards.

Social Enterprise of the Year 2021 winners Child Action Northwest ©Andy Ford

Liz Tapner presented this award on behalf of Social Enterprise UK, saying “I am so pleased to announce that for the second year running the Social Enterprise of the Year 2021 is Child Action Northwest

Michelle Dixon, Head of Service at Child Action Northwest said: “I work with these wonderful people, the only thing that I can say is that everyone does an amazing job, day in, day out – as I’m sure everyone does in the room, to win it the second time – we thought there was no way, so I’m absolutely thrilled, I’m more thrilled with friends and colleagues who stand by me because they’re the ones who go out every day and do what they do – thanks guys, you’re brilliant!”


About the 2021 Enterprise in Society Awards

  • Hosted by Vice Chair Alistair Clarke MBE, awarded MBE in 2020
  • Welcome address and Social Enterprise of the Year award presented by Liz Tapner MBE, awarded in July 2021.
  • Sponsors: Recycling Lives, Calico Enterprises, The Sewing Rooms, Social Enterprise UK, Livv Housing and Unity Trust Bank.
  • The largest social enterprise awards in England, outside of Social Enterprise UK.
  • Judging panel: Adam Holden, Paula Brown, Investment Manager of Livv Housing Group and Margaret Porter, Relationship Manager of Unity Trust Bank
  • #BuySocial giftbags produced by The Sewing Rooms: 5 staff members and 5 volunteers were involved in design and production, with each bag made from end of roll textiles and salvaged textiles otherwise destined to landfill; 1500 metres of fabric were used, the equivalent to cover 2 full sized football pitches!
  • Awards held on 02/12/21 with hashtag #SelnetAwards
  • Selnet’s Tagline: For People | For Business | For Good


A huge thank you to our sponsors!



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