Devonport Guildhall

Beginner’s Guide to Social Enterprise: Be The Change!

We are running The Beginners Guide to Social Enterprise again on March the 7th and 14th, if you are interested in attending either reserve yourself a place via the E-Store or contact us on

Social Enterprise, if you’re looking for a definition it spells itself out with those two words: an enterprising business entity with a focus on social issues. Social Enterprise is particularly topical within the south west, where the region is leading the drive towards embracing this model. The university itself is accredited as a Social Enterprise, trading for both people and the planet, but I digress.

Bread and Roses
Crockery at The Bread and Roses, Ebrington Street, Plymouth.

In October the Futures Centre organised and facilitated a workshop designed to introduce the business model to students, and to provide them with an understanding of how the model functions on a larger scale and within the local community. The weekend long workshop, delivered by two members of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, was a workshop with a difference. Alongside teaching there were field trips programmed into the delivery.

Day one focused on defining and explaining what Social Enterprise truly was, alongside it’s place within the UK. Sandwiched into the middle of day one was a trip to Social Enterprise Plymouth Pub: Bread and Roses, where alongside receiving some amazing food, attendees were able to listen to how the business model functions in the hospitality sector. Justin Pollard, bar manager explained various issues they faced such as sourcing fair trade and local products, which tend to increase costs associated with these products making the bar tariff slightly higher than the average in Plymouth. After a Question and Answer session, we learnt that alongside functioning as a public house, the venue holds various group nights: Stitch and Sip, and book and film club and often displays art.

The day then lead into looking at Social Enterprise at an international level, helping to illustrate the further ramifications of the business model. The day finished by quantifying how to measure the impact of the business – how well were social aims being delivered against the businesses other focuses? helping any aspiring social entrepreneur ensure they were linking back to their original plan and mission statement.

Devonport Guildhall
The impressive entrance of Devonport Guildhall, only a short drive from Plymouth city centre.

The second day yielded a trip to Devonport Guildhall, where a short history of the area was given inside the Grade 1 listed building. The venue holds several offices, an award winning bakery and hosts weddings and business meetings. Attendees were able to climb to the top of Devonport Column and look across Devon and Cornwall for miles.

The day finished with attendees being given a problem to solve using a Social Enterprise model which they then delivered back to the group. The presentations were followed by questions from fellow attendees and the workshop facilitators, allowing attendees to put into practice what they had learnt at a vocational level at the very least.

Each trip was invaluable illustrating the practicalities and benefits of these models. For example, prior to RIO‘s involvement both Devonport’s Guildhall and Column were sitting unused, because of the involvement of the social enterprise the Guildhall is working once again for the community bringing in revenue and embracing the community.

Devonport Column
Devonport Column, a staggering 124ft above street level.

Emily Lane
Emily Lane


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