Category Archives: Hot News

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

This information is for reference only – the project is now completed and closed: Read more here

In the summer of 2023, Selnet were commissioned by Fylde Council to provide a detailed portfolio of organisations operating in Fylde –read this news article for more information.

Introduction to Project (Archived)

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 our 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

About Digital Freedom 2023!

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

Digital Freedom 2023 has been completed and we are delighted to share that over 50 distribution partners made it possible to gift 920 digital devices (tablets/laptops) with internet connection and skills support, enabling Lancashire residents to engage with digital health services. Here are some testimonials from beneficiaries:


A combination of barriers that were addressed in partnership included;

  • Support for eligible Lancashire individuals with no digital device by applying on their behalf.
  • Enabled online access for Lancashire residents with no connection to the internet, or who were unable to afford a data package.
  • Provided 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.

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.





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 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 now completed, 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:

  • 5,016 hoursprovided 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 clientswere supported over 28 months.
  • New businesses started: 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. By the close of DR!VE, 85 new businesses were established, including 42 social enterprises.
  • New jobs created: DR!VE overachieved our jobs target and increase employment through 101 roles. GVA background: As the programme supports 101 new jobs this would 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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Selnet Finalist in the UK Social Enterprise Awards

Selnet named a finalist in The Education, Training & Jobs category of prestigious national Awards, recognising businesses which are transforming society.

The Social Enterprise Lancashire Network, ‘Selnet’ has been shortlisted in the UK Social Enterprise Awards, recognising it as one of the leading social enterprises in the country.

Selnet based in Preston is a UK finalist in the ‘Education, Training & Jobs’ category. It is a business that exists to enable, secure and develop frontline social enterprises across Lancashire.

Since 2007 Selnet have been supporting social enterprises across Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen to start-up, connect, develop and grow. By developing and managing projects like Building Better Opportunities, Selnet lead programmes so social enterprises can secure revenue through their specialism; all to deliver contracts that transform lives. Selnet CEO Liz Tapner MBE said:


“Before Covid hit, we had just relocated to a social enterprise landlord. 3 months later the team were all working from home, maintaining existing contracts that support highly vulnerable people, securing new opportunities and maintaining communications across the network – all enabling the sector to survive, adapt and feel empowered.”


As lockdown covered our communities, Selnet worked intensively to maintain delivery, working with 5 specialist social enterprise partnerships and commissioners so that essential services for disadvantaged people could continue.

While maintaining and supporting teams delivering projects across Lancashire, Selnet worked hard to enable sustainability, resilience and impact of social enterprises.


We worked hard supporting frontline social enterprises whose services have never been more needed. We bid, secured and mobilised a high-level ERDF funded business start-up and growth support programme, ‘DR!VE’ – we and our 4 delivery partners have all invested our own reserves, to make this support possible; all specialising in social enterprises – and blimey its good timing!


On hearing the news of being shortlisted, Selnet’s senior management team Liz Tapner MBE and Donna Marshall were delighted.

Selnet lead programmes creating opportunities for social enterprises to support our  communities, enabling social entrepreneurs to develop skills and achieve their ambitions, respond to challenges, tackle inequalities, and empower our communities.

Social enterprises are businesses which trade for a social or environmental purpose. There are 100,000 social enterprises in the UK contributing £60bn to the UK economy, each one being set up to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face from homelessness to the climate emergency.

The UK Social Enterprise Awards run by Social Enterprise UK, the national membership body for social enterprises, recognise the nation’s most pioneering social enterprises.  Selnet will be joining other shortlisted organisations at the prestigious awards ceremony held at London’s iconic Guildhall on 8 December.

This year the Awards featured two new categories one recognising a Social Enterprise Building Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice and the other for the Social Enterprise Team of the Year – a category specifically acknowledging those teams which have demonstrated the strength, passion and resilience so characteristic of the social enterprise sector over an extremely challenging year.

Previous winners have included a company set up to tackle furniture poverty, an IT consultancy employing people with autism and a community energy co-operative – demonstrating just how diverse the social enterprise sector is.


Commenting on the Awards, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK Peter Holbrook said:

The UK Social Enterprise Awards are back, bigger and better than ever before. We have had a record number of applications this year, all of which have showcased the strength, dynamism and resilience of the social enterprise community through what’s been an incredibly difficult and uncertain period.

Over the course of the pandemic social enterprises have been going above and beyond the call of duty to support their teams, the individuals, and communities they work with, showing the grit, determination and innovation so inherent to this sector. They’ve been operating directly on the frontline of the crisis, launching new products and pivoting their business models to meet the needs of communities and society as a whole.

The Awards are all about celebrating the achievements of the UK’s social enterprise movement, which is showing us that another way of doing business is possible – one which has never been more important as we look to build back better and address the climate emergency.”


Are you a Lancashire social enterprise? Join Selnet!

If you are trading for a social or environmental purpose, we can support you to start-up, develop, connect and grow. Being part of Lancashire’s wider social enterprise community enables your access to additional services and resources, up-to-date sector news, funding information, networking events, training opportunities and a platform to promote your business.

For more information speak to our Membership Lead Officer Yvette Holden on or 01772 200 690 or visit


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Selnet in UK’s Top 100 Social Enterprises – for 3rd year!

The annual NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards recognise the most outstanding achievers in UK social enterprise, with top awards in six categories this year.

The NatWest SE100 celebrates the success of socially-driven ventures across the UK – by naming the most impressive 100 social enterprises of the year in a top 100 Index, and giving six SE100 Social Business Awards for the most outstanding achievers. It was created by Pioneers Post in partnership with NatWest more than 10 years ago and aims to support social enterprises not only through recognising their achievements but also by sharing their stories and expertise through articles, films and networking opportunities.

NatWest Social & Community Capital’s Megan Virrels said: “It’s always one of my highlights reviewing the SE100 entries and seeing how many examples of resilience, courage and perseverance there are in our sector. The winners have all shown incredible dedication and commitment to delivering a positive future for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us. I hope you all feel rightly proud in the difference that you are making to communities across the UK and beyond.”


Selnet recognised for 3rd consecutive year

Selnet exists to enable, develop and support the vital work across Lancashire’s frontline social enterprises. Since 2007 we have been supporting social enterprises across Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen to connect, develop and grow, through:

  • Our vibrant, impactful membership network
  • Specialist business start-up and growth advice and support
  • Securing opportunities for our members
  • Developing and leading partnerships
  • Promotion and representation on a local, regional and national basis.

Our impacts continue to increase from our support and training for members during Covid to our contract extensions – and our work towards securing opportunities for our social enterprises and their communities. We have now secured over £23.8M for our sector; securing opportunities, enabling partnerships, managing contracts and accessing funded business development services.



We are thrilled and honoured to be recognised as one of the top 100 Social Enterprises in the UK for the 3rd year running!

It’s a testament to the dedicated and passionate team at Selnet, working hard on behalf of our members and for Lancashire residents.’

Donna Marshall, Partnership Manager



The Sewing Rooms Leaders shortlisted for Leaders of the Year

Huge congratulations for Paula Gamester & Maureen Fazal who were shortlisted for Leader of the Year as Co-founders of The Sewing Rooms / Connector Media: “for social enterprise bosses demonstrating excellent leadership, effectiveness and inspiration in taking the team on a mission-driven journey to success”


Want to know more about Selnet? 

During Covid we have invested in a Membership Lead Officer to engage and support our sector. To find out more about becoming a Selnet member contact Yvette Holden

Read the full Pioneers Post article here




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Peer Networks


Selnet was excited to enable Lancashire social enterprise leaders to access support through this national networking programme. This project was launched and completed in 2021 and was jointly funded by BEIS and Lancashire County Council.

Starting in early 2021, this intensive programme took 18 hours over 8 weeks. Participating in a peer group helped gain fresh perspectives, inspired new ideas and changed habits of thinking. It helped form new contacts, built networks and gained valuable professional and personal support from like-minded peers.



Sharing Experiences to Meet Current Challenges

Our Peer Networks project was tailored to Lancashire’s social enterprise leaders; now, and of the future. It was not formal management or skills training – instead it provided personal development focus with flexible topics worked though with the help of a professional facilitator and in small groups of likeminded social enterprise leaders in a similar situation.

Each group consisted of social enterprise leaders led by an experienced facilitator, Adrian Ashton. In addition, there was bespoke business support for organisations and a series of masterclasses to learn new skills. The Programme supported participants to:

  • Overcome business challenges and act on new opportunities
  • Build a trusted network of connections for current and ongoing support
  • Improve long-term personal and business performance
  • Consider ways to increase turnover and social impact
  • Use the Peer Network to help overcome challenges or make changes in their social enterprises

The agenda for each meeting was set by the group. The context was to support each other to develop new ways of working and building knowledge and skills to expand their organisation’s impact.


Participating social enterprises had to meet the following criteria:

Social enterprises with a trading address within the Lancashire LEP area and had:

*SMEs that did not meet this criteria due to Covid-19, but did meet the criteria during the 12 months prior to March 2020 were also eligible



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Kickstart Gateway

In 2021, Selnet was approved as a Gateway provider for the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, providing funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.

We secured 47 placements with 18 employers. Following this, 8 young people were offered permanent roles from their placements, and 4 secured contract roles.

About the Kickstart Scheme
The Kickstart Scheme provided funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who were at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes could apply for funding which covered:

Employers could spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.

Selnet as a Gateway Provider
Selnet recognise that social enterprises across Lancashire are in a unique position to offer excellent opportunities to young people however this was unlikely to be at scale. In becoming a Gateway provider, Selnet aimed to make it easy for our members to get involved, whether that is for one placement or several.

What employers received
In addition to the wages cost, the Government provided further on-boarding costs of £1,500 per job placement. This was to support the young person with training and to help them become ‘job ready’, as well as helping with any set-up costs. Selnet was on-hand to advise employers how to make best use of this funding to ensure a positive outcome for all.



Historic Information

Job Placement Criteria
The job placements created must be new jobs. The placements must not:

  • Replace existing or planned vacancies
  • Cause existing employees, apprentices or contractors to lose work or reduce their working hours

 The job placements must:

  • Be a minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months
  • Pay at least the national minimum wage or the national living wage for the employee’s age group
  • Only require basic training

What is a Gateway
Gateway Representatives have been selected by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as credible organisations with experience in managing partnerships agreements and have a robust financial and governance process to manage Kickstart placement procedures.

The DWP has checked and approved Selnet as a Kickstart Gateway using the Cabinet Office Spotlight Tool.

If you’re creating fewer than 30 job placements, as a Kickstart gateway Selnet can apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant for you.

This does not guarantee that you will get Kickstart Scheme funding. Your application will be assessed against the Kickstart Scheme criteria by DWP.



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