Activism

Northampton Social Echo Day builds on legacy of our social trading conference

Northampton's Social Echo Day gathered local businesses and organisations together to continue to forge new connections to maximise local social trading

In November 2018, The Big Issue convened the UK’s inaugural social trading conference, How To Create a Social Echo, in Northampton.

Its purpose was to gather a wide range of key organisations – large and small businesses, employers, the university, the NHS, social enterprises, charities and third sector organisations – to discuss how local businesses and other organisations can work together to build on Northampton’s rich history of social trading.

There were over 140 people at the Social Echo conference, and on Tuesday, many of those attendees reconvened in Northampton in the company of Big Issue founder Lord John Bird to continue to push towards stitching the community together through social trading.

Social Echo Day

Attended by numerous representatives of local services and businesses, including the NHS, Nationwide bank and the University of Northampton, The Big Issue’s Social Echo Day heard how in the months since 2018’s conference, the community has been working hard on widening the web of social trading in Northampton and has moved forward with numerous initiatives to boost the value of the local pound.

Social trading is recognising that every organisation carries with it a social echo that reverberates around the town. By developing and nurturing local trading connections and keeping the pounds we spend circulating within the community, we can reinvigorate local high streets and town centres.

“A new optimism is growing as Northampton applies to become a Social Enterprise Place,” said Lord Bird, “This Social Echo Day aims to ensure the optimism inspired by the November conference doesn’t fade away as other worthy initiatives are prone to do. We are here to create a sustainable legacy.”

One standout local business who spoke at the conference was Golden Years, a community group offering events and activities for older people to get involved in run by Meg Neilan. Meg told the group of how following the conference, she was inspired to open a part-time used clothes shop next to her business unit, profits of which go back into helping run Golden Years.

“This is exactly what we’re talking about,” said Lord Bird. “We encourage people to think of what their organisations can offer, and what they need, to strengthen this vision and leave a lasting legacy of social trading that can underpin a brighter future for Northampton and the surrounding community.

“Today proved we can build on the successes of the UK’s first social trading conference and forge new opportunities for everybody in the area.”

Action plan

Attendees on Tuesday then agreed on an action plan, consisting of ‘asks’ and ‘offers’ of what they want and can give to the local community in Northampton, and 13 attendees also volunteered to launch a steering committee that will take the idea of the social echo forward and give it a real head of steam.

To find out more about The Big Issue Social Echo, go here

Image: L-R – Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor at the University of Northampton, Rachel Mallows MBE, Rev. Richard Coles, Lord John Bird. Photo by Holly Russell

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