Social Business Wales Awards 2019 celebrate success of Welsh businesses

Eight exceptional social businesses have been recognised at this year’s Social Business Wales Awards 2019.

A sustainable building project tackling poverty, a community energy charity and a school partnership enterprise were amongst the winners that took home a coveted sector award, presented by Wynne Evans at Venue Cymru, Llandudno.

The Social Business Wales Awards recognise the excellence of social enterprises, co-operatives and employee-owned businesses in Wales. There are currently 2,022 social businesses across the country that contribute an estimated £3.18bn to Wales’ economy.

And the Social Business Wales Awards winners are…

  • Wales Social Enterprise of the Year Award winner: Aura Leisure, Deeside

Aura Leisure manages the leisure and cultural services across Flintshire, including a £1.4m investment in Mold Leisure Centre. Owned by its employees, Aura’s portfolio now includes four leisure centres, seven libraries, 170 children’s play areas and three museums.

  • One To Watch Award winner: The Community Impact Initiative, Bridgend

The Community Impact Initiative supports marginalised individuals to help develop their personal and employability skills. Aligning business activities with its social mission, it regenerates disused properties in the area to reduce the effect this has on the community.

  • One To Watch Award highly commended: Therapeutic Activities Group, Cardiff

Therapeutic Activities Group strives to support young people who are at risk of developing negative attitudes and behaviours as a result of adverse childhood experiences or childhood trauma. Facilitating the Therapeutic Animal Assisted Activities model, it uses compassion animals to bridge communication and promote positive engagement with the individuals.

  • Consumer Facing Social Enterprise Award winner: Aura Leisure, Deeside

Aura Leisure manage the leisure and cultural services across Flintshire, including a £1.4m investment in Mold Leisure Centre. Owned by its employees, Aura’s portfolio now includes four leisure centres, seven libraries, 170 children’s play areas and three museums.

  • Environmental Social Enterprise Award Winner: Awel Aman Tawe, Swansea

Awel Aman Tawe is a community energy charity that aims to tackle climate change and contribute to a sustainable future in the Upper Swansea and Amman Valley. After raising £230,000 for a project, it installed 179kW of solar power on seven community buildings and schools, all of which have been operating successfully.

  • Environmental Social Enterprise Award highly commended: Elite Paper Solutions

Elite Paper Solutions provide confidential paper waste and recycling services across south Wales whilst allowing people with disabilities and those at a disadvantage to gain valuable skills and experience. Founded in 2015, it has worked with over 200 individuals, enabling them to enter paid employment, work experience or volunteer opportunities. 

  • Health and Social Care Enterprise Award winner: Down To Earth Project, Gower

Down to Earth’s unique project tackles both social inequality and sustainability whilst giving vulnerable and excluded groups a chance to thrive. Its remarkable approach means that the project delivers clinically valid health care to participants, as they assist with building affordable, sustainable houses for their community. 

  • Tech for Good: Technology in Social Enterprise Award winner: Innovate Trust, Cardiff

Innovate Trust is a supported living charity providing support services to people with various learning disabilities, mental health conditions and physical impairments. Working with partners, it has created the UK’s first Smart Supported Living home, using voice and gesture activation to maximise accessibility for individuals living there.

  • Education, Training & Jobs Social Enterprise Award winner: The Fern Partnership, Ferndale

The Fern Partnership aims to enhance provision in schools in the Rhondda Valleys, increasing educational achievement and supporting community development. In the past four years it has supported over 1000 participants aged 16+ to become employment ready and access accredited/non-accredited training and education.

The Social Business Wales Awards are run as part of Social Business Wales, a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government as part of the Business Wales service. It is delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

Derek Walker, Wales Co-operative Centre CEO, said

“The quality of nominees this year was outstanding. It is so important that we recognise the hard work of these social businesses and the impact they have on our society.

“On behalf of all of us at the Wales Co-operative Centre, we want to congratulate all of the worthy winners and wish them luck as they head to the Social Enterprise UK Awards.”

The 2019 event was sponsored by NatWest, Legal and General, BIC Innovation, Acuity Law, Cowshed Communication, Doopoll, and Social Investment Cymru.