Praise for pioneering work with communities

21st March 2011

Digital Voice for Communities has become the first media organisation in the North East of England to be awarded the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark. This identifies Digital Voice as trading for social and environmental purposes.

One of the UK’s top social entrepreneurs, Kate Welch OBE, presented the award to founder directors Julie Nicholson and Olwyn Hocking.

Kate had inspired them to seek the recognition when she led a Business Link training workshop. Making the award she said it was vital that there was wider appreciation of the value of social enterprises like Digital Voice.

“Social enterprise is more than just a business. It creates REAL value, delivering profits and delivering benefits for the people it works with. That’s more value for the North East, especially needed and welcome in the current economic climate.”

The Social Enterprise Mark is the brand for social enterprises. Only nine in the North East have so far been awarded: clients and consumers know that these businesses are trading to benefit people and planet. Digital Voice joins other ethical businesses such as Age UK, Eden Project and the Big Issue.

Digital Voice for Communities was founded in 2007 to harness the power of hands-on media experiences to provide a voice and personal development for people from disadvantaged communities. After three years it had already worked with more than two thousand people, including refugees, young offenders, unemployed adults, traveller families and people with a wide range of disabilities.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark Company, said: “Digital Voice is one of the first social enterprises in the North East to be awarded this prestigious Mark, and so is helping to pioneer this important new standard to measure whether organisations are genuinely socially motivated.”

Julie Nicholson, Digital Voice founder Director, said, “We’re really proud to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark. Digital Voice is absolutely committed to putting people first, as part of a sustainable business, and helping local communities to thrive and prosper”.

Co-Director Olwyn Hocking added: “Our projects run across all forms of media, from video, animation and digital photography to audio, VJ performance and gaming. The important thing is that the participants gain new skills and confidence and overcome barriers to having fair access to media – they have a chance to express their own digital voice.”

Government data estimates that there are 62,000 social enterprises across the UK, contributing £24 billion to the economy and employing around 800,000 people.

Research suggests that social enterprises are twice as confident of growth compared to typical small to medium enterprises(SMEs), with 48% of social enterprises saying they are positive about the future as opposed to just 24% of SMEs (The Social Enterprise Coalition’s State of Social Enterprise Survey, 2009).

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