Plymouth: 10 years a Social Enterprise City

Plymouth has been a Social Enterprise City for 10 years. We catch-up with one of the founders to reflect on the journey and the emergence of social enterprise in Plymouth over that time. We chat about the journey, the work that still needs to be done and where the next 10 years might take us. 

Plymouth: 10 years a Social Enterprise City

by Not For Robots | Gareth Hart

Hosts & Guests

Stephane Kolinsky

Gareth Hart

Social Enterprise in Plymouth is supported by the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network. Click here to found out how.


About Gareth Hart

Director, Iridescent Ideas CIC; Chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network and Co-Chair of Plymouth’s Inclusive Growth Group

Gareth is the founder and director of Iridescent Ideas (a social enterprise business advice firm) and has been a champion of the social enterprise movement in Plymouth and the South West of the UK. He is currently the elected chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network. Gareth led Plymouth’s successful bid to become the first ‘Social Enterprise City’ in the UK and has a history of working successfully with a range of social enterprises from tiny start-ups to national organizations on issues such as governance, social investment and social impact. Gareth was the Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Plymouth University from 2016 to 2018 and lectured regularly on social enterprise themes. He is also leading work on developing the ‘inclusive growth’ element of Plymouth’s economic strategy.

In the last 10 years Social Enterprise in Plymouth has come a long way, grown and achieved a lot:

  • First UK Social Enterprise City (first in world maybe!).
  • The UK’s best week-long social enterprise festival.
  • A leading social enterprise place which people across the world look to (folk from Sweden, Italy, South Africa, The Netherlands, Germany, Lithuania, Greece, Jamaica, Finland, Poland have all been here to find out more).
  • A seat on the Plymouth Growth Board – helping to keep social enterprise at the heart of economic policy making.
  • The City Council’s pioneering Social Enterprise Investment Fund and Co-operative Development Fund.
  • Power to Change and Rank Foundation investment and support.
  • School for Social Entrepreneurs running multiple programmes here.
  • Specialist expert social enterprise business advice programmes secured.
  • Climate emergency declared.
  • Developing the inclusive economy work.
  • Influencing policies for social value in procurement.
  • Three universities inspired to embrace social enterprise as a model.
  • One of the largest health and social care providers (Livewell) in the UK started here.

Related Episodes

Wendy Coulton

Wendy Coulton

The Community Shop for 'End of Life' Care and Support. Wendy Coulton runs 'Grey Skies' a community shop to get information, guidance and support on issues relating to dying, death and bereavement.  Based in Devonport, Grey Skies is the first social enterprise of its...

read more
The Alternative UK

The Alternative UK

Change Politics to Make Change Happen. Not For Robots spends some time with Indra Adnan from The Alternative UK. She talks about her work supporting the emergence of more engaging and inclusive politics at a national and local level. She shares her experience of...

read more