Social economy key to economically vibrant and self-sustaining communities

Developing economically vibrant and self-sustaining communities through social economy enterprises is at the heart of an innovative plan the Housing Executive launched on 23rd September 2015.

The Social Housing Enterprise Strategy 2015-2018 sets out the Housing Executive’s vision for investing in the creation of vibrant communities by financing and providing resource support to develop the local social economy and create community owned social enterprises. Some £400,000 has been invested by the Housing Executive in the first tranche and invites for investment applications opened on 23rd September. There are five levels of funding available ranging from education grants to established businesses. By identifying opportunities for growth and encouraging more social entrepreneurship, the Housing Executive aims to improve health and well-being in its neighbourhoods and communities.

Speaking at the launch in the Ecos Centre in Ballymena, the Housing Executive’s Chief Executive, Clark Bailie, said: “The Housing Executive has a proud record of supporting our local communities’ development and in assisting them to build safe, stable and cohesive neighbourhoods. Yet, we are conscious that our communities remain the most likely to be socially disadvantaged and excluded from the wider economy. Today’s launch is the first step in helping to transform our communities and the lives of the individuals and families living there through social enterprise. The impact will be increased inward economic investment, the creation of new and innovative development opportunities and the improvement of life chances.”

Chairman of the Housing Executive, Donald Hoodless, said: “I am confident that our new role will enable us to build and grow locally owned and managed businesses that will bring real and sustainable benefits and change to local communities and their residents. We wish all of our communities well and hope that they will support our aims in building the local social housing economy and will bring forward their business ideas when we invite investment applications in the very near future.”

Colm McDaid, Supporting Communities NI Chief Officer, who attended the Ecos Centre event commended the Housing Executive in launching their new Strategy and looked forward to seeing the impact that the Strategy will have in terms of helping communities to become more self-sustaining in the future. He added, “Supporting Communities NI would encourage groups within the Housing Community Network who have a social enterprise idea or indeed want to learn more about the Grant Awards available to make contact with either the Housing Executive or your local SCNI Liaison Officer who can advise or signpost you accordingly.”

Applications are now open and there are five levels of awards. These are: Education Grant (up to £500); Business Start-Up Grant (up to £1000); Embryonic Business (up to £10,000); Emerging Business (up to £20,000) and Established Business (up to £50,000).

The first tranche of applications will close on 12th November 2015, following which a decision will be made with the aim of making all offers by 31st December 2015. Contact: to express interest.