From an award-winning magazine offering employment opportunities to people in poverty, to a multi-million-pound social investment business supporting enterprise to drive social change, The Big Issue Group is one of the most recognised and trusted brands in the world. Three decades after the magazine’s debut, Social Echo continues the Big Issue’s mission to dismantle poverty by harnessing the potential of social trading to create opportunity and build stronger communities.
Social Echo believes that communities can become more cohesive, caring, and capable in the face of change by developing their own ecosystem for social trading: trading with the good of the community at its heart, in which businesses aim not only to make profit but also to support local people in need, build the infrastructure necessary to sustain local wellness, and help their local economy thrive. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world needs this more than ever and Social Echo is focused on economic , community and household recovery.
Social Echo adopts Lord Bird’s broad concept of social trading and underpins it with a practical approach developed over the space of a decade by our team of community development pioneers.
Together we have built partnerships that have brought together private, public and voluntary sector organisations to deliver measurable social impact. From developing the UKs most ambitious free community festival, to overseeing millions of pounds of investment in social businesses across the UK and launching the UKs first Covid-19 support network in 2020, our team has collectively developed fourth sector virtuous circles that offer benefits for all participants.
Today our social enterprise is collaborating with big thinkers and partner organisations to hone the principles of social trading and help communities build their own unique social trading ecosystems.
Drawing on long experience of community work and a range of skills, Social Echo offers a series of enabling services to social traders and other community organisations that help them bring together stakeholders to set up a social trading ecosystem.
We establish physical hubs to house great people and ideas and populate local and national expert groups to unleash the untapped potential of communities.
We use a community development toolkit to achieve sustainable development by identifying assets and resources and empowering communities to realise their potential. We create virtuous circles that connect cross sector organisations to achieve benefits for all parties.
We share powerful stories with the world through our digital and print platforms, amplifying the resonance of our social echoes and inspiring others to connect.
We help social businesses identify opportunities for return on investment, for example by reducing the costs of government services, then help them to fund growth by grants, loans, or stakeitbacks (crowdfunding with a return).
We operate in a fourth sector environment where the private, public and voluntary sectors meet, helping organisations to reduce duplication and identify opportunities where local wellness needs are unmet.
We offer social businesses franchising opportunities, helping them to scale and replicate across our network of hubs, amplifying social impact and creating opportunities in other places.
Yaxley in Cambridgeshire, once noted as the largest village in the UK, has been harnessing the potential of social trading for a decade.
The fen edge settlement is home to an innovative community development programme led by volunteers that has worked with residents and businesses to create measurable and memorable social impact.
This local team has now joined forces with Social Echo and a number of regional authorities and agencies to launch the Social Echo North Huntingdonshire hub.
Strategically located on a thriving commercial trading estate, the hub represents a bridge between residents and the business community.
With the support of national property developer Barnack Estates UK, the Social Echo team intend to explore the potential of social trading and trial a number of new intiatives at this location.
The team are also committing to delivering practical support for residents in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis focusing on food redistribution, employability and multi dimensional poverty relief.
Our North Hunts team launched the UK’s first Covid-19 community support group at the beginning of March 2020.
The amazing team of volunteers are now assisting communities across North Huntingdonshire and have earned the coveted Hunts Forum stamp of approval as a Quality Assured Recognised Covid-19 Organisation. We have made a commitment to continue supporting our communities for as long as necessary, working in partnership with the multi-agency vehicle We are Huntingdonshire.