At the end of last year, the UK social enterprise movement excelled itself both in dishing out its own baubles and in gate-crashing the art world's most notorious party. At SEUK's prestigious UK Social Enterprise Awards, more than 400 celebrities, corporate big cheeses and some social entrepreneurs gathered at the UnderGlobe on London's Southbank to toast the winners. The Social Enterprise of the Year award went to the Cardiff-based sports training business, Vi-Ability; other winners included the Suffolk-based social care cooperative Leading Lives.
Last year's silo-busting social enterprise success story was the Liverpool-based art collective Assemble, the first social enterprise to win the Turner Prize. Its use of art and design to improve people's houses in an area earmarked for demolition seems discordantly relevant to everyday life in comparison with previous winners Damien Hirst and Chris Ofili. Assemble has used the £25,000 prize to set up a new social enterprise that it hopes will get the public more involved in rebuilding their community.
The short history of the social investment wholesaler Big Society Capital has been almost as controversial. Its first chief executive, Nick O'Donohoe, departed in December to advise the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Because of the huge expectations of BSC from politicians and under-informed expectations of sector leaders, O'Donohoe has had a tough job. New chief executive Cliff Prior has an even tougher one.