The Big Issue has been a leading light in the social enterprise world for 25 years, and the movement has grown exponentially in that quarter-century.
Now we are delighted to report that superstar actor and social activist Michael Sheen, who has long been a champion of those in our line of work, has signed up as official patron and supporter of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK). And he has pledged to help grow the sector and help entrepreneurs become “a dominant force” by opening doors and spreading the message to the wider public.
Social entrepreneurship is a real force for good and the sector has grown enormously, but we are scratching the surface of what can really be achieved.
Joining our founder John Bird as a fellow SEUK patron, Sheen will work with the organisation to promote and champion social enterprise models that can help tackle society’s most pressing issues.
“The world faces many challenges right now and you can either get sucked up in the negativity that breeds or you can put yourself forward and empower, resource and provide some solutions – which is exactly what I intend to do with this new role,” said Sheen.
“By joining SEUK as both a patron and a supporter I aim to help raise the level of public debate on the alternative solutions a social economy can provide, to shine a light on people creating and running social enterprises and the difference that makes.”
Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.
He continued: “Social entrepreneurship is a real force for good and the sector has grown enormously, but we are scratching the surface of what can really be achieved. Social entrepreneurs can be a dominant force but we need to raise the ambition, open more doors, communicate better with the wider public.
“As patron I want to work with the movement and show the world what it might mean to ‘take back control’. An economy that works for everyone, not just the few.”
Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) is the national body for social enterprises – businesses that have a primary social motive and who reinvest their profits into tackling social and environmental problems.
We desperately need alternatives to business as usual if we are to have any chance of tackling an unprecedented range of threats to our collective well-being and prosperity.
There are over 78,000 in the UK contributing over £24 billion to the economy, employing a million people and operating in areas as diverse as manufacturing, community energy, leisure, health and community services. Through where they work and who they employ they create opportunities, reduce inequalities and promote diversity: 31% are based in the UK’s most disadvantaged areas, 59% employ people marginalised in the workforce and 40% are led by women.
Social Enterprise UK chief executive commented: “We’re delighted Michael will be joining us as one of our patrons. Our country, indeed the world is crying out for greater social justice and economic models that benefit the many rather than the few. We desperately need alternatives to business as usual if we are to have any chance of tackling an unprecedented range of threats to our collective well-being and prosperity.
“Michael’s passion for a fairer society and his interest in social enterprise as a way of achieving this, combined with his influence will be invaluable in amplifying the voice of the sector.”
Main image: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock