• +44 0208 057 9120
  • hello@socialecho.uk

Lord Bird's Social Echo

Trading with the good of the community at its heart

Who we are

The Big Issue exists to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity. They do so through self-help, social trading and business solutions. 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, for over 25 years The Big Issue Group has strived to dismantle poverty through creating opportunity, in the process becoming one of the most recognised and trusted brands in the world.

Lord Bird’s Social Echo uses economies of scale to combine best practices for social trading into low cost shared services. Local partners enable social value streams by using Social Echo services to broker trading relationships between local organisations, negotiate favourable deals for social businesses and other local organisations, open up opportunities for social trading in multiple sectors, help build local employability, and unlock the full potential of community hubs by making them central to a social trading ecosystem.

Since 1991 The Big Issue has helped over 92,000 vendors earn £115 million
There are currently around 1500 vendors, and last year alone The Big Issue helped them to earn a total of £5.5 million.
Currently the magazine is read by over 400,000 people across the UK and circulates 83,073 copies every week.
"Think of the great things that people like you have done. Yes, normal people like you. I am always impressed by people who go that extra mile for their fellow human beings. They help to blow holes in our cynical world that seems to put a downer on everything."
Lord Bird
Founder, The Big Issue

What we

Even in developed economies (such as the UK where Social Echo is based), many people live in multidimensional poverty, with poor health or malnutrition, restricted access to utilities, low quality of work, or little schooling. Others live on a financial knife edge, just about managing but knowing their lives could fall apart at any time, or are not managing at all.

The coronavirus pandemic has made the impacts of inequality clearer than ever, and three decades from now the challenge will be even greater. By 2050, nearly half of us may be living at high risk and without a safety net. We must increase the number of people able to look after themselves and improve our ability to support those who can’t.

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.

Why Social Echo?

Every community is different. However, to develop a social trading ecosystem that addresses interconnected wellness issues in a holistic way, every community must do the same things. 

Social Echo offers support for these things as shared services, on a non-profit basis. 

We use economies of scale to make it easier, quicker, and cheaper for communities to build their own social trading ecosystem. Councils and their partner organisations can lower the risk, increase the pace, and reduce the cost of building a social trading ecosystem by using standard enabling services from Social Echo.

What we do

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.


Establishing Infrastructure

We help you establish physical hubs and Local Expert Groups to support community organisations, charities and social enterprises in your area. This provides vital infrastructure for your social traders and for the local wellness they are working towards.

Connecting Your Community

We use an expanded asset based 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 third sector organisations and businesses to achieve benefits for all parties.  We create a digital presence for your community in our searchable network of social trading hubs. 

Promoting Great Work

We work with your social traders to create promotional material, then publish this in your digital hub and promote it to the public, major employers, and other social traders. This helps your social traders explain themselves to the people they seek to help and to other organisations.

Growing Social Business

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). This helps your social traders grow their operations to make more of a difference.

Reducing Gaps & Overlaps 

We use digital tools to analyse social trading and other community organisations in your area and show which local wellness needs are unmet, or being met by products and services from multiple organisations. This helps stakeholders in your ecosystem work together to maximise the wellness benefits of local social trading.

Sharing Great Ideas (Social Franchising)

We capture great social business ideas from across our network, work with Local Expert Groups to develop them into easily replicable business plans, then publish the plans with links to exemplar businesses in digital hubs. Social Franchising offer social traders a method to replicate and expand without reinventing the wheel.

North Hunts Hub

Yaxley in Cambridgeshire, once noted as the largest village in the UK, has been harnessing the potential of social trading since 2012. 

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.

North Hunts vs Covid-19

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.

Get In touch

0208 057 9120

Email hello@socialecho.uk