17 October 2019 00:36

Right now, PSEN is working on a new social enterprise strategy for the city.

how Bristol City's new crest rates against Leeds United and Aston Villa

Bristol City FC has unveiled its new badge following a consultation of supporters which gathered thousands of responses. The new crest features a robin which was first used on the kit as far back as 1949 and has long been a symbol of the club. The design of the badge followed a consultation which gathered more than 3,350 responses from supporters. The club also held a focus group to gather opinions on what fans wanted to see as the team's new symbol. Bristol City says it will become "more prominent" throughout the summer months around Ashton Gate with the final changeover across the whole club before the start of the 2019/20 season.

Earlier on Monday, United's under-23s won another Professional Development League clash with a 3-0 victory against Watford at Vicarage Road to go eight points clear in Group North. Bristol City yesterday unveiled their new club badge. The Robins' old badge came in at 23 out of 24 teams, but they have risen dramatically with the unveiling of the new design. Describing the new badge, they said: "It's a stylish rebrand, that's for sure, it does lose marks for the similarity to Brentford but overall it's got the quality to achieve a high ranking. I can clearly remember hearing the BBC Breakfast News one summer's day in 2013, announcing the UK's very first 'social enterprise place' – Alston Moor in Cumbria.

Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) was looking for more hotspots of social enterprise activity under their Places scheme: towns, cities and regions that could help make the public more aware of social enterprise. But the preceding years of movement-building and diligent organising meant that, when we applied to SEUK, we had everything required: a clear understanding of existing activity, a compelling and ambitious plan to grow social enterprises in number and size and, most importantly, a great partnership of collective, visionary organisations including Plymouth City Council (then a Co-operative Council) and the University of Plymouth (the first university to receive the Social Enterprise Mark). These were bound together in action by the nascent but influential Plymouth Social Enterprise Network (PSEN), which I had chaired since May 2013. Our bid was successful and we became a Social Enterprise City in September 2013. Today, there are around 200 social enterprises in Plymouth, a city of just over 260,000 people, together employing over 7,000 people and bringing in a combined income of around £550-£600m.

free battle

Our status has certainly attracted investment: between 2014 and 2018, Plymouth City Council put in £2.5m to help social businesses grow. Power to Change and more recently the Rank Foundation have been drawn to invest in the city, in part due to its label as a Social Enterprise City. 'Social enterprise takeover day' at Plymouth Social Enterprise City Festival, 2018 It has also given social enterprises in Plymouth more confidence. Ed Whitelaw, head of enterprise and regeneration at Real Ideas Organisation, a social enterprise with a high profile nationally and in Plymouth, says the badge has been critical to his company's success. Also, there's been real change in the way our business is viewed – we are more respected and seen as a strong partner in the city." The media and policy attention means that social enterprise is no longer seen as somehow wacky, alternative or on the fringe: it's recognised as a serious business sector. This, in turn, has led to EU-funded specialist business support for social enterprises to start up and grow. And as one of the first Social Enterprise Places, PSEN has had significant interest from overseas. We've been all over Europe – from the north of Sweden to the boot of Italy via Lithuania, Greece, Germany and The Netherlands – to talk about how our city supports social enterprise. General public awareness of social enterprise still needs to be increased. Despite being a city with a proud naval and military tradition, and a strong Ministry of Defence presence, I haven't seen the MoD here respond to Social Enterprise City ideas, especially when it comes to procurement. To create a healthy, productive economy we'd like to see them working more with social enterprises in the city and focusing more on opportunities to procure with social value in mind. Our Local Enterprise Partnership, the custodian of and channel for millions of pounds of investment in the economy, has seemed, at times, distant and reluctant to engage with anything other than business as usual. The few references to social enterprise and inclusive growth in the LEP's local economic strategies have been hard won – although encouragingly, our LEP does now have a plan to drive inclusive growth. Right now, PSEN is working on a new social enterprise strategy for the city. I love what the Scottish government is doing in the social enterprise space and we'll model some of our plans on Scotland. One exciting project we are working on is to engage artists and writers to illustrate what Plymouth in 2069 would look and feel like if social enterprises, community businesses and co-operatives really ruled the city – think driverless, flying, AI taxis owned by the people, for the people. An important outcome for us in the medium-term is to see a city where social enterprise becomes a model of choice for people setting up a business. Plymouth could be a place where aspiring entrepreneurs would have enough information about social enterprise to be inspired to try it. Our Social Enterprise City status and the work of our incredible social enterprises have proven that you can run a successful business with a good cause. To me, this is the power of the Places idea: that we really can create a vibrant social economy and change the world for the better. As we assemble our movement, Social Enterprise City is the flag we gather behind – and well worth those frantic hours of bid-writing back in 2013. Gareth Hart is director at Iridescent Ideas CIC and chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network.