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Social enterprise education: How schools across the globe are driving change

Celebrating Young Social Entrepreneurs in UK Schools and Beyond in This Week’s Big Issue

Sponsor from Social Enterprise Academy

Social enterprises run by school pupils around the world are showcased in the Big Issue magazine this week, in our special Social Enterprise Schools takeover edition.

The magazine, on sale from vendors across the UK this week, includes a free 24-page supplement which profiles school social enterprise projects across the UK and further afield. 

All are supported by the Social Enterprise Academy, which was founded in Scotland in 2004 to strengthen the role of social entrepreneurs in local communities through transformational learning programmes that increase their community impact. In 2007, their Social Enterprise Schools programme was established in partnership with The Scottish Government. It now operates across Scotland, England and is growing internationally.

Social Enterprise Schools enables young people to identify a social or environmental issue that is important to them, before designing and launching a trading social enterprise that will directly address the issue.

Some examples in this week’s Big Issue include:

  • Sustainable food – creating food products from waste ingredients, and cooking sustainably;
  • Circular fashion – sharing and upcycling clothing among pupils, and reusing textiles to create new useful items;
  • Protecting the planet – growing produce, reducing waste and recycling in creative ways;
  • Creating community – using community spaces to trade fairly and improve mental wellbeing through a new café culture.

Some of the School Projects Include:

  • Training pupils with skills in revamping old shoes to re-sell, with funds from sales supporting mental health charities; 
  • A clothes swap-shop prior to a school formal dance, where pupils could anonymously choose clothes, tackling fast-fashion;
  • Upcycling second-hand clothes and selling them online affordably, to avoid stigma, reduce waste and raise funds; 
  • A Community Cookazine with plant-based recipes sourced by pupils and vegetarian cooking workshop, to encourage their local community to stop eating meat and reduce deforestation; 
  • A barista service which delivers drinks and cakes to order for teachers each Friday, with funds raised supporting the community, with Christmas gifts for vulnerable young people and Easter eggs donated to a local food bank.

Big Issue Editor Paul McNamee said: “Every year when we work with the Social Enterprise Academy we see schools’ social enterprises getting bigger, bolder and more creative. 

“From growing produce to making food and sharing it in their communities, to ingenious ways that pupils are upcycling clothes, to raising awareness of rainforests and helping hedgehogs to cross the road – there is so much joy and energy in these projects. 

“It’s especially exciting this year to see how Social Enterprise Schools is growing in England and much further afield. We see school students learning blacksmithing and using chook-poo for projects in Australia, and young people in Malaysia making sure their classmates are able to reach the library and don’t go hungry.

“It all shows how the brave, compassionate and creative approaches of young people actively running social enterprises can make real impacts – locally and globally.”

In addition, the Social Enterprise Academy uses this week’s magazine to launch a new award recognising schools which demonstrate outstanding financial skills. 

The James Fairweather Award is a tribute to James Fairweather, the late CEO of Big Issue Invest and chair of the Board of Social Enterprise Academy, who sadly died in November 2022 after being diagnosed six months earlier with an aggressive for of brain cancer. Throughout his career James championed financial literacy and how young people can effect change in the world.

In the coming weeks, pupils across the UK will be taking part in Sell-Off Challenges, selling copies of this Big Issue special edition to raise funds for their social enterprises. 

And a group of pupils in London will meet Lord John Bird at a special Social Enterprise Academy event to launch the special edition at the House of Lords this Wednesday.

National Vendor Week 2024

A celebration of people who are working their way out of poverty.
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