Social Business Wales Awards 2021 provides welcome therapy for the social enterprise sector

The winners of this year’s Social Business Wales Awards were announced yesterday in the first ever virtual ceremony, with Therapeutic Activities Group in Cardiff and Prom Ally in Llandudno taking home the sector’s biggest prizes. 

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The ceremony celebrated the achievements of social enterprises and co-operatives in Wales and was a chance to shine a spotlight on the positive economic and social impact that these businesses have had on communities around the country. 

Hosted by BBC Wales Today presenter, Jennifer Jones, the awards ceremony was attended virtually by 150 guests from the social business sector. Denbighshire Music Co-operative, a not-for-profit organisation providing quality music tuition for pupils in the Denbighshire area, and winner of this year’s Tech for Good category, delighted guests with a rendition of ‘Upton Funk’.  

Therapeutic Activities Group was the winner of this year’s Social Enterprise of the Year Award (sponsored by Cowshed Communication). The Cardiff-based community interest company was set up in February 2019 and strives to improve the physical, emotional, educational and social well-being of young people. The social enterprise is currently working in 23 schools across south Wales and engaging between 10 and 15 young people per school, a total of around 345 ‘at risk’ young people. Its long-term goal is to set the standard in programme delivery of Specialised Trauma Informed Therapeutic practices. 

The 2021 One to Watch category (sponsored by Legal & General) rewards new social enterprises that have been trading for less than two years which show significant promise for the future. A hotly contested category this year, it was won by Prom Ally, a social enterprise from Llandudno which enables girls and boys who are experiencing financial hardship to access the free loan of a prom outfit for their special night. The social enterprise has helped hundreds of girls since it began and has recently opened up to boys too, offering suits in addition to the dresses. 

Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething MS, said: 

“I was pleased to see this year’s excellent standard of entries, showcasing the positive activity that’s taking place in the sector across Wales, delivering positive social impact in our communities and societies, and improving social and economic well-being. I am encouraged about the future of the social business sector and the role it can play in our Economic Action Plan, Prosperity for All, with its progressive purposes of reducing inequality and spreading wealth and well-being across all of Wales.” 

Derek Walker, Wales Co-operative Centre CEO, said: 

“We all know how incredibly difficult the last 18 months have been. But it would have been so much tougher for many of us if hadn’t been for work of social enterprises across the country. Social enterprises have stepped up to continue to provide services in challenging circumstances and often set up new services where required. Social enterprises have been at the heart of local communities and of Wales’ response to the pandemic. Well done to all of our winners and finalists. You are changing Wales and the world in a positive way through the power of social enterprise.”  

The rest of the Award winners, included:  

  • Community Impact (sponsored by Triodos Bank): Iorwerth Arms, a community owned pub in Holyhead that was saved from closure and demolition through community action in 2015. It is now a successful community hub for the Bryngwran area.  
  • Tech for Good (sponsored by Perago): Denbighshire Music Co-operative, a not-for-profit social business run by teachers, providing quality music tuition for children in the Denbighshire area. 
  • Social Enterprise Team of the Year (sponsored by Acuity Law): Creating Enterprisea subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy, provide a range of contracting and development services to clients across the public and private sector. 
  • Green Willow Funerals and Llangefni FC also picked up a highly commended award.

The Social Business Wales Awards have been run annually since 2010, as part of the Social Business Wales project, to highlight and honour the best social businesses in Wales. Social Business Wales is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund and is delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre. The project provides business support to social businesses across Wales which have plans for growth and expansion. 

Social Enterprise of the Year | Therapeutic Activities Group CIC

One To Watch | Prom Ally

Community Impact | Iowerth Arms

Social Enterprise Team of the Year | Creating Enterprise

Tech For Good | Denbighshire Music Co-operative