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Support ‘Hubs’ will boost Oxfordshire’s growing social enterprise sector

eScalate, the newest programme from OxLEP Business, is creating 6 ‘hubs’ to nurture social entrepreneurship across the county.
Six prominent Oxfordshire organisations have been appointed as social enterprise ‘hubs’ to provide support for other community and socially motivated businesses. They will be playing a key role in delivering a new programme, eScalate which is designed to help social enterprises including social entrepreneurs, enterprising charities and other businesses with a commitment to making a positive social and environmental impact. It is a European Regional Development Fund programme.

Social enterprises are playing an increasingly important role in Oxfordshire’s economy. Helen Brind of OxLEP Business, which is managing eScalate, said: “More and more businesses in this sector are creating jobs and contributing to the success of Oxfordshire as a place to live and work. We need to make sure that they have access to the opportunities and gain the skills they require to succeed. We want to build their capacity and increase the opportunities available to them. All kinds of businesses and initiatives will benefit from our eScalate programme and the focused support these hubs will deliver for us.”

The social enterprise hubs announced this week are:

  • Tap Social , West Oxford
  • Oxford Hub , Oxford city centre
  • Aspire at Flo’s – The Place in the Park, East Oxford
  • CAG – Community Action Group Oxfordshire, Makespace, North Oxford
  • SOFEA, Didcot
  • Town Square , Eco Business Centre, Bicester

The Hubs will host events, activities and other support which is being coordinated and delivered by OSEP – the Oxfordshire Social Enterprise Partnership.

Leading advocate for community enterprise, Grant Hayward of OSEP CIC, said: “Establishing this network of Hubs is vital for delivering support and building capacity within local communities. All of them are great examples of thriving organisations, providing and promoting social and environmental impact. Over the next 2 years they will host workshops, networking events and peer-to-peer learning sessions. These hubs will help these socially oriented, purposeful businesses to learn new skills, forge partnerships and increase their impact.”

“Our goal is to create a strong and vibrant community of socially minded enterprises. In addition to the 6 Hubs, the programme is also looking at other ways to reach as many parts of the county as possible and make an impact in all sectors.”

During February, each of the Hubs will be launching within their own areas. The events will be open to individuals, businesses and charities who are interested in discovering more about the programme.

The first workshops begin in March and will cover subjects ranging from the inclusive economy, social impact measurement and how to pitch for funding. Each Hub will also host a peer support group, where socially minded entrepreneurs will be able to meet at regular intervals to share their challenges and achievements.

For more information about the support available through the eScalate programme, including workshops, visit: oxfordshirelep.com/escalate