Social economy key to economically vibrant and self-sustaining communities

Developing economically vibrant and self-sustaining communities through social economy enterprises is at the heart of an innovative plan the Housing Executive launched today.

The Social Housing Enterprise Strategy 2015-2018 sets out the Housing Executive’s vision for investing in the creation of vibrant communities by financing and providing resource support to develop the local social economy and create community-owned social enterprises.

Some £400,000 has been invested by the Housing Executive in the first tranche and invites for investment applications open today, September 23rd. There are five levels of funding available ranging from education grants to established businesses.

By identifying opportunities for growth and encouraging more social entrepreneurship, the Housing Executive aims to improve health and well-being in its neighbourhoods and communities.

Speaking at the launch in the Ecos Centre in Ballymena, the Housing Executive’s Chief Executive, Clark Bailie, said:

 “The Housing Executive has a proud record of supporting our local communities’ development and in assisting them to build safe, stable and cohesive neighbourhoods. Yet, we are conscious that our communities remain the most likely to be socially disadvantaged and excluded from the wider economy.

“Today’s launch is the first step in helping to transform our communities and the lives of the individuals and families living there through social enterprise. The impact will be increased inward economic investment, the creation of new and innovative development opportunities and the improvement of life chances.”

Chairman of the Housing Executive, Donald Hoodless, said:

“I am confident that our new role will enable us to build and grow locally owned and managed businesses that will bring real and sustainable benefits and change to local communities and their residents.

“We wish all of our communities well and hope that they will support our aims in building the local social housing economy and will bring forward their business ideas when we invite investment applications in the very near future.”

Alan Johnston, Development Manager of Monkstown Community Forum, said:

“Social enterprise not only assists community groups aspiring to sustainability but in Monkstown this model has enabled us to contribute to the building of infrastructure, capacity and resilience, in an area where historically horizons and opportunities have been limited.

“It is encouraging that the Housing Executive is actively promoting the Social economy model in areas of social housing to provide this prospect for other communities.”

Applications open on September 23rd 2015 and there are five levels of awards.

These are:

  • Education Grant (up to £500);
  • Business Start-Up Grant ( up to £1000);
  • Embryonic Business (up to £10,000);
  • Emerging Business (up to £20,000)
  • Established Business (up to £50,000).

The first tranche of applications close on November 12th 2015, following which a decision will be made with the aim of making all offers by December 31st 2015.

Contact [email protected] to express interest.

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