UK social enterprise expert to open Shropshire conference

Andrew O’Brien, Director of External Affairs, Social Enterprise UK

Andrew O’Brien, Director of External Affairs for Social Enterprise UK, which represents 100,000 companies seeking to improve society through commerce, will launch the Spark Social Conference on February 17th.

The free half-day virtual event – titled Purpose to Profit – will bring together social enterprises and private sector businesses to encourage new ways of working across the country.

Organizers of the event, the Shropshire Council and the Marches Growth Hub Shropshire, say having Mr O’Brien as the keynote speaker underscores the importance of the conference at the local and national level.

Mark Barrow, executive director of the Shropshire Council, said that an effective partnership between the private sector and social enterprises could play a huge role in shaping the post-Covid economic landscape and he was delighted that Mr O’Brien had accepted the invitation to speak at the event.

Social Enterprise UK is the world’s leading authority on social enterprise and Andrew O’Brien himself is a long-time supporter of economic growth through the development of social enterprises and of making him speak as a guest speaker. he opening of the Spark social conference to the new year is a major blow.

“It shows that our work here in Shropshire and our officially recognized status as a Social Enterprise Place is making a real impact, not only locally, but beyond. “

Mr. O’Brien has been a committed supporter of social enterprises since his very first job.

Prior to working for Social Enterprise UK he worked for Chris White MP and supported him as he led the Social Value Act in Parliament and assisted him in his role as a Social Value Ambassador.

He then moved from Parliament to the charitable sector, working for the National Council of Voluntary Organizations, then becoming Director of Policy and Engagement at the Charity Finance Group.

The Spark Social Conference is an opportunity for businesses to learn how teaming up with social businesses can help increase their bottom line.

And for social enterprises, it will be an opportunity for them to network and make themselves known by presenting their products and services.

Other key speakers included Michelle John, the founding director of PEGS – a social enterprise that supports families affected by child parent abuse (CPA).

Michelle created PEGS in 2019 after experiencing child abuse towards parents. Today, thanks to a dedicated team, every year she supports hundreds of parents facing similar difficulties.

Sonia Roberts, managing director of the Landau employment and training charity, based in Shropshire, is also on the list of guest speakers.

She will also sit on the expert panel with Nicky Kent, founder of Shropshire-based Social Heart CIC, which provides business and leadership advice and coaching to other social enterprises and small businesses, and John Clarke of Social Telecoms CIC based in Shrewsbury.

The 2022 event will build on the success of the first Spark social conference in 2019.

There will be presentations and webinars to explain terms such as “social value” and “corporate social responsibility” and a chance for companies to hear from companies that are already working successfully with social enterprises.

Marches Growth Hub manager Emma Chapman said the event would be a must see for any private sector company looking to add social value to their work.

She said: ‘Shropshire is officially recognized as a place of social enterprise due to the strength of the sector in the county and we want this event to both raise the profile of these social enterprises but also show our private sector how they can get involved in increasing their own social impact.

If you would like to exhibit, contact [email protected] for more information.


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