Birmingham’s newly-designated Social Enterprise Quarter in Digbeth has become the latest ‘Place’ in the UK to be given national recognition. The framed certificate was handed over at the launch of the new Quarter to Sarah Crawley, Chief Executive of iSE (Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs) by Charlie Wigglesworth from SEUK, which is leading the Social Enterprise Place initiative.
Sarah Crawley (right), Chief Executive of iSE, receiving the Social Enterprise Place certificate on behalf of Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter, with Charlie Wigglesworth from SEUK (left) and Clive Hurst (centre) ‘father’ of the Social Enterprise Places initiative
Sarah was the driving force behind the creation of Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter, having first set up a Digbeth area cluster group and then invited the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore, on a guided walk around the area, visiting a number of social enterprises along the way.
Sarah was inspired to facilitate the creation of the Quarter having noticed a concentration of social enterprises trading in Digbeth, where iSE is also based. “The economic benefits to a market sector of ‘clustering’ together are well documented,” she says. “I thought it would be interesting to find out more about these enterprises and create an opportunity for them to network and explore what they could achieve together.” From this networking group, the concept of Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter was born.
The local residents association and colleges in the area are also involved. Signs have gone up and it is hoped that visitors to the Quarter will notice a difference in the character and feel of Digbeth in the coming year as the community puts its plans for improving communication, opportunities and the environment into action.
Many sector supporters, including Clive Hurst from Social Enterprise Solutions, described as the ‘father’ of the Social Enterprise Places initiative, and Helga Edstrom from the Office for Civil Society, attended the launch event, alongside local social entrepreneurs keen to see the new Quarter thrive.