Inspiring UK Enterprises

Sometimes it can be difficult to know if an enterprise has a social element or not, so we thought we would compile a list of some of our favourite social enterprise around the country.

Community shops and cafes

Hambledon Village Shop is the longest-established community run shop in South East England having opened in 1992. It is a not-for-profit organisation run by the community for the community and providing the village with a shop, post office and café. A shop manager is employed and supported by a team of volunteers who help ensure the shop opens seven days a week.

Baked: Cake with a Cause is a café that supports the community and sells homemade, locally sourced baked goods and a range of hot and cold drinks. Operating as a social enterprise, it aims to enhance the fabric of the community by providing young people with employment, training and skills development opportunities; provide a space for people to meet, eat and socialise; support local community groups and charities; and champion local businesses.

Recycle, upcycle and reuse

Guildford Bike Project is a social enterprise which collects unwanted bicycles from the public and other organisations and provides free skills, training and work experience for local jobseekers and young people to completely refurbish the bikes. The bikes are then sold to the local community from outlets in Westborough and Stoke at an affordable price. This income contributes to the running of the enterprise, which is overseen by the Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership, and the flagship venture has helped many who have been reluctant to return to learning to gain City & Guilds Cycle Maintenance Awards and valuable work experience.

Since the project’s launch in 2012, more than 2,500 bikes have been sold or serviced, over 50 clients have received an accredited City and Guilds qualification and more than 30 have gone on to paid work.

Changing Perceptions upcycling furniture workshop offers skills training and work opportunities for people affected by epilepsy and disabilities. Based at the Meath Epilepsy Charity’s Skills and Enterprise Centre in Godalming, it provides an inspirational and nurturing environment that encompasses an upcycling furniture workshop, saleroom and family friendly tea room. The workshop’s environmentally friendly ethos is to upcycle items that are no longer required and turn them into unique, attractive pieces – often with a quirky edge.

Furniturelink Guildford works to recycle, refurbish and re-use donated furniture and appliances to reduce landfill, avoid waste, help disadvantaged people to furnish their homes cost effectively and provides back-to-work volunteering opportunities. It operates from a showroom in Merrow and is a member of the Surrey Reuse Network, a group of six social enterprise charities working together in partnership to reduce landfill and help their communities by providing affordable furniture for all throughout Surrey.

Seagulls is an environmental social enterprise which is run with 3 P’s in mind: Planet, People, Profit. It collects leftover and unwanted paint from household waste sites across Leeds, reprocesses it and sells it through its two paint stores at a fraction of the cost of more traditional paint shops. Seagulls also sells its own branded new paint, which is trade quality, and sold at reasonable prices.

The project works with more than 50 volunteers per year and collects and reuses over 170 tonnes annually. In addition, Seagulls specialises in mosaic as a way of bringing people and communities together, and promotes mosaic making and other artistic activities to support local development and improve people’s quality of life.


The No.1 Befriending Agency is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the quality of life of all the people it supports. It provides friendly, non-medical care services to lonely and socially isolated people in the Greater Glasgow areas and beyond. The agency offers four main services: one-to-one befriending; a home-help service offering help with shopping, pet care and running errands; social lunches for the elderly that comprise of a meal and live entertainment; and a volunteer programme which supports people that are socially isolated because of physical disability, the elderly as well as people on the autistic spectrum.

GLADE (Guildford Learning and Development Enterprise) aims to provide training, skills and work opportunities for jobseekers, young people and those disadvantaged through illness or mental health problems to enhance their employability. It delivers gardening services for elderly tenants, gardening at sheltered housing schemes, day centres and Millmead House and street cleaning in Westborough. It was established in March 2014 as a social enterprise to deliver these services and at the same time provide learning through the development of core functional skills and task specific training, alongside work opportunities for jobseekers, promotion of volunteering, provision of facilities and opportunities to less advantaged residents, community engagement and self-reliance.

The project is a partnership between three local charities – Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership, Oakleaf Enterprise and YMCA DownsLink Group and also Guildford Borough Council.

PBS4 is a non-profit social enterprise supporting people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. Based in Southampton, it was established by registered learning disability nurse Jonathan Beebee, who became frustrated at the lack of high quality social care provisions available for people with learning disabilities. PBS4 strives to provide personalised support that understands challenging needs to enable people with learning disabilities to have independent lives and live in their own homes.

Hortic Therapy is a social enterprise delivering therapeutic gardening and craft sessions for people with dementia and special needs. It is committed to tackling and reducing isolation experienced by senior citizens by offering them the opportunity to have an active and healthier lifestyle. It works with care homes to provide hourly sessions for residents where the senses are stimulated and the fine motor skills are exercised.

Hortic Therapy also works with schools to provide gardening activities for after-school clubs and offers demonstration workshops for members of the community.

hortic therapy

 The Human Touch aims to provide affordable therapies for all. Based in Shoreham, it hosts a fortnightly clinic at a local community centre offering a range of different therapies including massage, reflexology and reiki healing with low prices for those on lower income. The therapists also provide services in other local accessible spaces and at well-being events and community fairs.

Bespoke children’s services

Bespoke Childcare Services is a social enterprise delivering affordable, flexible childcare solutions to businesses, organisations and individuals across Ireland and Northern Ireland. It provides flexible care for children aged from 4 months up to 12 years and has the expertise to transform a room/venue into a safe, secure fun areaThe organisation also provides professional, fully vetted staff to childcare employers for temporary staff cover and long term contracts.

Kingdom Fruit was set up in 2014 to address food poverty in low income areas in the Borough of Elmbridge. It is a mobile greengrocer that brings affordable fresh fruit and vegetables to people in the community. A grant from CSH Surrey’s Community Fund enables them to keep their prices low for customers so everyone has access to fresh fruit and veg. In the last year they have sold nearly £9,000 worth of fresh fruit and vegetables, have over 50 regular customers including many families with young children, and have established regular selling pitches at local community centres, community cafes, retirement schemes, local primary schools as well as door to door. Importantly, they have also established relationships with their customers and gained their trust so they are able to support and encourage them in other ways.

Kingdom Fruit is now looking to develop a model that can be replicated to run in other low income communities, and are looking to recruit some of their existing customers to help them sell the produce.

Making and selling goods

Grange Creations fudge enterprise is made up of Sue, Janice and Vicky and their tutor Rachel and together they make and sell fantastic fudge. It is based at The Grange in Bookham, an organisation which supports people with disabilities to achieve their potential and live independent and fulfilling lives.

The group’s members all gained catering and retail skills from working in The Grange@No5 shop, the Grange’s Simply Scones cafe and customer service training in partnership with Waitrose. They were able to use their skills to research the fudge market, test different flavours and prices and design their brand. Once a month, the group makes a large batch of fudge and sells it at fetes and online. All profits go back into the enterprise

grange creations fudge enterprise

Rubies in the Rubble is a jam and chutney-making business whose mission is to encourage people to waste less, treasure their resources and live more sustainably. It provides a delicious and practical solution to food waste by using surplus and discarded produce from fruit and veg markets across London to make jams and chutneys. Established in 2011, Rubies in the Rubble products are available online, as well as in shops such as Waitrose, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason. You can even find its relishes on board Virgin trains!

Cooking clubs, art clubs, dance and theatre groups

The Pantry Partnership uses food to create social momentum, helping people out of food poverty, enhancing life skills and reducing social isolation. Based in Wiltshire, it holds cook clubs, drop-in cooking sessions, a surplus supper club, pop up restaurants and a regular First Friday Cafe. These public activities, which people pay to attend, support community activities such as a regular free three-course lunch for local people who may be isolated or lacking access to hearty meals which are cooked by teams of volunteers using surplus and store cupboard staples.

Outside In Eco Arts is a Dorset-based social enterprise, engaging people with nature through eco arts projects and workshops. It uses natural, freshly foraged, freshly recycled and carefully selected materials to provide imaginative and inspiring ways to achieve fantastic results for everybody. The enterprise delivers workshops to all ages and abilities teaching environmental awareness and helping them create personal works of art, sustainably. It also offers experiences such as foraging fun trails and nature walks.

Funk Format is a social enterprise with a mission of creating a positive and healthy environment for young people and people within disadvantaged communities. Based in Portsmouth, it aims to engage, challenge and develop people through urban dance. Funk Format offers workshops and demonstrations aimed at inspiring people to become more confidence and independent. It also provides a guidance and training programme to budding artists who want to excel in performing arts careers.


Global Music Visions (GMV) aims to inspire blind, visually impaired and disabled people of all ages, using computer music software, to compose, play instruments, record and mix, in one-to-one and small group sessions. It was established by David Shervill, who is partially sighted, and who became frustrated by his own experiences while studying music technology at college due to the lack of accessible technology and magnification tools.

GMV aims to remove the stigma surrounding disability, break down the barriers that prevent equality and inclusion, and create new opportunities based on a person’s ability.

Edinburgh Tool Library is the UK’s first tool library, promoting sharing as a way of reducing our environmental impact. The library lends its members tools for DIY, gardening, decorating and machine repair, so that they don’t need to own them. Not only does this collaborative approach make sense environmentally, it also helps its members financially. The scheme also provides opportunities for young unemployed people who are interested in working in the trades industry by providing support and mentorship in a workshop environment. The young ‘trainees’ learn about tools, maintenance, cataloguing, customer service and will demonstrate tools to members, under the supervision of retired trades people, or ‘mentors’.

Bee The Change aims to tackle the pollination crisis by connecting people to nature through bee conservation. It works towards this via a combination of education, mentoring and courses, community hives and the creation of bee habitats. By helping bees, the programme enables people to engage with nature and their community, and aims to further people’s understanding of the need for sustainability.

With thanks to Donna at Inspiring Enterprise

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