Updates from the South West region

Fellowship news

Read about the latest activity from our Fellows in the South West region: MakeSouthWest, Plymouth Social Enterprise App, Restorative Justice & Exeter Social Enterprises.


MakeSouthWest is a network of community-led maker spaces, educational establishments and industry partners. It is one of the key projects in the south west, aiming to promote shared learning, widen access to resources, and develop the best possible pool of talent in the region.

Maker spaces are physical locations with digitally enabled small scale manufacturing and 3D prototyping equipment open to the community and run by knowledgeable managers. MakeSouthWest include maker spaces across the region ranging from Makernow in Cornwall to West Knowle Media Centre near Bristol.

In 2014 we piloted various activities ranging from makers-in-residence, to reciprocal workshops shared remotely in real time between spaces. We are now undertaking research on making and wider manufacturing in the region, developing a website and looking at supporting member activities in 2015 including open factory days and developing relationships with manufacturing clusters across the region. We're also taking part in a conference on Future Public Libraries in the Digital Age.

Finally we are researching wider maker activities in the region from manufacturing clusters to knitting groups! If you run any activity related to 'making', let us know - we'd love to hear from you.

Project leads: Phillippa Rose and Joss Langford.
If you would like to join the network or receive further updates email [email protected]

New Social Enterprise Directory & Mobile App for Plymouth

Plymouth Fellows Gareth Hart FRSA and Cllr Chris Penberthy FRSA launch new social enterprise directory for Plymouth and the UK’s first social enterprise mobile app. The directory lists social enterprises in Plymouth selling everything from bikes to bread and includes information about the local social enterprise scene. The app, launched in ‘beta testing’ mode will allow more people to access information about local social enterprises from their phones.

Gareth Hart, Chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, said: “We are working hard to see a city where social enterprise is central to the way we do business. To do this we need more people to know about what social enterprises exist here. I urge everyone to use this directory and app and buy from our social enterprises - that way we can create a vibrant social economy.”

The app is another social enterprise first for Plymouth and has been made possible by Plymouth’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund which has seen Plymouth City Council invest £500,000 in social enterprises since its launch last year. The Council has confirmed this fund will be extended, with £2 million available for social enterprises over the next three years.

In 2013 Plymouth became the UK’s first Social Enterprise City and both the directory and app are designed to raise awareness of Plymouth’s burgeoning social enterprises and enable customers to buy from them quickly and easily.

 Cornish Collaboration Creates Restorative Communities

Following a second successful RSA Catalyst bid, Cornwall-based social enterprise RJ Working is taking its collaborative success on to a national stage.

The RSA is committed to enabling people to take an active role in strengthening their community relationships, particularly in finding innovative ways to shift power and find more collaborative ways of delivering public services. Restorative justice and restorative practices are one such way of applying the RSA theme 'the power to create', allowing for a more constructive response to the harm caused by crime and conflict.

There is a strong evidence base, endorsed by government sponsored research, that safe, supported and voluntary communication between the parties has a very high (over 85%) victim satisfaction rate.  When conducted well and to agreed ethical standards, this work also makes a significant contribution to rehabilitation and reducing reoffending.   

However this practice represents a big cultural shift - from the division and hostility promoted by our media to the restoring of justice, through making things right.  Deborah Mitchell FRSA, one of the founders of RJ Working, a Community Interest Company based in Cornwall, has been building creative partnerships to bring these issues into public awareness in new and innovative ways, supported by a Catalyst award from the RSA. She has teamed up with Ben Symes FRSA, Artistic Director of Cube Theatre to develop audience engagement around Cube Theatre's touring play 'After the Accident'. This is a powerful award winning drama about Restorative Justice which holds three very different perspectives in tension. Film clips of moments from the play have become part of RJ Working's toolkit for creating new understandings of the benefits of Restorative Justice.   

A second set of creative, collaborative relationships are now being forged between RJ Working and the Animation Course at Falmouth University led by Derek Hayes FRSA. Again, a series of short films will become part of RJ Working's toolkit for educational and networking developments. The animations are an original and innovative way of communicating some of the essential components and rewards of restorative communication, and are being generously supported by distinctive and famous voices - starting with Jenny Agutter FRSA.

As a Cornwall-based social enterprise, RJ Working is eligible for business support under the Engine Room programme; this has allowed Deborah to access support around financial planning, business development and marketing via Ed Whitelaw FRSA and the Real Ideas organisation and the project has been a great example of collaborative working between John Adam Street, south west fellows and the national Fellowship network.

 Exeter: Social Enterprise City

Sarah Bailey is one of our new fellows in Exeter. Her motivation for joining the RSA was the South West’s strategic focus on social enterprise. As a local business owner and keen advocate for social purpose businesses and social enterprise, Sarah has been working with the steering group of Exeter’s social enterprise network ESSENCE. She is behind a new campaign designed to raise awareness of the great work and contribution of social enterprises in and around the Exeter area by applying for the city to become a recognised social enterprise ‘Place’. Encouraged by other great regional examples such as Plymouth, Cornwall and Bristol, ESSENCE want Exeter recognised by the SEUK scheme as an area that supports social enterprise activity and integrates social value into the local economy.

Exeter has a growing number of social enterprises and ESSENCE has been supported and encouraged by the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses like CoCars and Foot Anstey who have sponsored the campaign. Sarah is now working with a team of volunteers to coordinate a strategy for Exeter's bid, with support from Exeter City Council and Devon County Council alongside many local activists, charities and voluntary organisations. She is especially keen to promote the campaign widely saying "the main aim of our strategy is to raise awareness amongst businesses and the public about the huge contribution that social enterprises already make to our community and how we can all support them more".

It is hoped that the bid will be submitted in the autumn in time to start an exciting new chapter for social enterprises by Christmas. To keep up to date with Exeter’s Social Enterprise City campaign, follow @EssenceExe on Twitter. 


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