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Social enterprise superheroes take over the House of Lords

Social Enterprise Schools pupils show how building business for good can make big change happen

A group of school children in uniform and two white men in dark suits outside the Houses of Parliament in London on a bright, sunny day,

At the launch today of the Social Enterprise Academy's Schools Takeover of The Big Issue at the House of Lords are pictured (L-R) Neil McLean CEO of Social Enterprise Academy, Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, young people from Beam Primary School, Barking and Dagenham. Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Sponsor from Social Enterprise Academy

Young social entrepreneurs came to the House of Lords today as guests of The Big Issue, to show how innovative and smart thinking around creating business for good can make a big impact for local communities and across the world.

Pupils from six primary and secondary schools, who have been running their own social enterprises as part of the Social Enterprise Academy’s Social Enterprise Schools programme, were welcomed by Big Issue founder Lord Bird to the seat of parliament, to share their inspiring business ideas.

The new generation of pioneers also feature in our special Big Issue Schools Takeover Edition, on sale this week across the UK from vendors – and which will also be sold at School Sell-Off events to raise funds and awareness for their individual social enterprises.

Social Enterprise Schools superheroes L-R: Pupils from: Oaklands School, Hounslow, Millennium Primary School, Greenwich, Elm Court School, Lambeth, Sanders Draper, Havering, Beam Primary School, Barking and Dagenham, Southgate School, Enfield. Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Amazing social enterprises running in 27 schools in the UK, Malaysia and Australia feature in the magazine, with business models that include creating sustainable food products from waste ingredients; sharing and upcycling clothing among pupils; growing produce; reducing waste and recycling in creative ways; and using community spaces to trade fairly and improve mental wellbeing.

Each pupil involved has been thinking about the future, and what they can do to make it better for themselves and for everyone.

At the House of Lords launch event, pupils from Oaklands School, Hounslow, Elm Court School, Lambeth, Millennium Primary School, Greenwich and Sanders Draper, Havering, met Lord Bird and heard about his journey as founder of Big Issue Group, one of the UK’s first and biggest social enterprises.

And students from Beam Primary School, Barking and Dagenham and Southgate School, Enfield, took part in a Dragon’s Den session, where they presented their social business pitches to a panel of experts, who shared their expertise on how to grow the ideas.

Leah McGee, Assistant Headteacher at Sanders Draper, said: “The students got a lot out of being a part of the Social Enterprise Academy. I had four teams of students putting projects together and they have really come out of themselves in terms of confidence. 

The whole idea of giving back to their community has really resonated with them

Leah McGee, Assistant Headteacher at Sanders Draper

“The whole idea of giving back to their community has really resonated with them and they want to take that forward into the future. And that’s not just in terms of their projects, but for the whole school community.”  

The Social Enterprise Schools programme was established in 2007, in partnership with The Scottish Government, and now operates across Scotland, England, and internationally. It 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.

People power! Social enterprise superheroes at the House of Lords launch of The Big Issue’s 2023 Social Enterprise Schools. Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Neil McLean, CEO of the Social Enterprise Academy, said after the event: “I was blown away by the young people using enterprise to solve social enterprise in their communities. It was great to celebrate their hard work and the impact they are having and we are looking forward to working with more schools next year”

The Schools Takeover Edition of this week’s Big Issue was supported by Kibble, HIE and Artemis. It is the fifth year that we have worked with the Social Enterprise Academy for this showcase special supplement.

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