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Gala Awards 2017 - What a night! - Press Release on all the Winners

Social Enterprise NI announce winners and leading social entrepreneurs of the year at their gala Awards Evening at The Stormont Hotel.

Social Enterprise NI Awards 2017 – Friday 27 October 2017

Press release: Social Enterprise NI Awards 2017

Social Enterprise NI, an organisation promoting and supporting social enterprises across Northern Ireland, hosted the Social Enterprise NI Awards on Friday 27 October at The Stormont Hotel, Belfast. The awards, presented by UTV’s Paul Clark, recognised and celebrated the excellence in social enterprise and the outstanding achievements of social entrepreneurs to deliver social impact.

Ashton Community Trust, won the coveted award of NI Social Enterprise of the Year, as well as being highly commended for their social impact. Established in North Belfast in 1991 with a mission “To promote positive change and improve the quality of life of the North Belfast community”,  Ashton is committed to improving community relations and delivering economic as well as social benefit to all communities across North Belfast. As of 2017 they employ over 200 staff, has business to business relationships with over 600 suppliers and in the last 6 months has created three new social enterprise start-ups which in the long term will help safeguard the future of the organisation.

“We are delighted to be named as Social Enterprise of the Year and to be highly commended for our social impact”, said Paul Roberts, CEO of Ashton Community Trust. “These awards collectively recognise how hard staff work towards Ashton’s mission of improving the lives of local people and making North Belfast a better place to live. Working in partnership with our colleagues in the community, voluntary and statutory sectors underpins all of this work. Ashton’s heart is in the community. We are grateful to everyone who has worked with us in recent years as this award provides recognition of the benefits of that team approach.

Speaking about the future Paul Roberts added: “A robust asset based approach and sound financial management underpins our corporate strategy. Working collaboratively, sharing best practice and keeping a community development ethos to the forefront guides all of this work. Looking to the future we plan to remain on being sustainable, regenerating where possible, keep jobs and keep on making meaningful change.”

In addition to the recognition of social enterprises at the awards, Social Enterprise NI showcased a wide range of social enterprises through its supply chains for the event. This included bottled water on tables from Clearer Water, a social enterprise based in Larne; filming of shortlisted candidates by Slack Press, a social enterprise filming company, table centres from Moxie Makes and Awards booklets provided by Mugshots.

Colin Jess, Director of Social Enterprise NI said, “We have been overwhelmed by the interest in this years awards, with 300 guests attending, made up of social enterprises themselves, and also a large number of interested parties and stakeholders from the private, public and educational sectors along with a number of MLA’s.  It is great to see the passion, energy and enthusiasm within the room. More and more public and private sector organisations are keen, and willing, to understand the social enterprise business model.  We look forward to increasingly working with all sectors and political parties to continue this momentum and to position the social enterprise sector as a strong contributor to the mainstream NI economy.”

Sponsoring the awards and showing support for the sector on the night were an impressive list of public and private organisations including Ulster Bank, Department for Economy, Department for Communities, Hays Recruitment, Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT), Housing Executive, Edwards & Co. Solicitors, NILGA, Business Led NI, Go for It Programme, Irish League of Credit Unions, and Architectural Heritage Fund.

Cara Marks from Hays Recruitment said, “Hays Specialist Recruitment are honoured to partner with Social Enterprise NI. As a judge for this year’s awards I have had a preview of some of the work and achievements of the Social Enterprise Community.  The commitment, drive and skills in the sector are admirable. From talented individuals to innovative and forward thinking organisations .Hays are delighted to support this growing and valued sector.”

Megan Peat, CEO of Ulster Bank Social and Community Capital also commented, "Ulster Bank is delighted to support these awards because we understand the importance of social enterprise to the economy of Northern Ireland and want to help showcase the great work of the sector.  We want to see social enterprise flourish and through our new partnership with Social Enterprise Northern Ireland we are looking forward to hosting our first event in November.”

For further details on the awards and social enterprise sector in Northern Ireland visit or follow the organisation’s Twitter page @socentni.



Notes for editors

For media enquiries (including more details on award winners) please e-mail or call (028) 9046 1810 / 07734 286 211






Social Enterprise of the Year

A social enterprise that not only operates as a successful business with a social impact but that has also demonstrated and promoted social enterprise beyond the sector.

Highly Commended: USEL – North Belfast  -  @USEL182

Winner: Ashton Community Trust – North Belfast


One to Watch

A social enterprise that has been operating less than two years with the potential for great social impact which can be articulated in their future vision.

Two Highly Commended - Healthy Kidz – Lurgan & Science Starz – Lisburn Road

Winner - OutsideIn




Newly Established

A social enterprise formed in the last few months that has no treading figures to show but can demonstrate its impact on a specified community, be it geographic, or of community interest.

Winner:   Millburn Community Association  t/a The Calf Lane Kitchen – Coleraine



Social Impact Award

Social enterprise that can truly demonstrate and communicate their impact with their stakeholders.

Highly Commended: Ashton Community Trust – North Belfast

Winner: Clanmil Housing Group – Province wide



Consumer – facing Social Enterprise Award

This award goes to the social enterprise that produces or delivers a retail product or service; one whose brand consumers in the market know by name.

Winner:  Madlug CIC – Lurgan


Education, Training and Jobs

These social enterprises have a strong social, environmental and community impact in the education, training or employment sectors.

Winner:  Mugshots – Belfast and Carrickfergus



Council of the Year

To acknowledge the contribution which our local councils make to the social enterprise sector

Highly Commended: Derry City and Strabane District Council

Winner: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council



Credit Union of the Year

To recognise the work carried out on daily basis to by Credit Unions across the country and the contribution which each of them make to their local communities.

Winner:  Newington Credit Union – North Belfast



Food and Drink

To a product or social enterprise location that serves food and drink

Winner:  Loaf Catering – West Belfast



Housing Association        

To recognise the contribution that Housing Associations make to their local community and social enterprise sector in general

Winner: Triangle Housing Association – Ballymoney



Employee or Volunteer of the Year 

The social enterprise has been a client of a hub in the last year and can articulate its vision and how it is going to achieve it showing growth in its model.

Winner Volunteer:  Fiona Rowan – Step by Step NI  - Lurgan

Winner Employee:  Chris Campbell– NOW Group West Belfast



Social Enterprise Leader of the Year

Awarded to someone who has created significant, positive change for society by demonstrating socially entrepreneurial behaviours, beyond the day-to-day expectations of the normal day job, but in doing so tackling a social or environmental issue.

Highly Commended: Dave Linton – Madlug CIC - Lurgan

Winner: Jacinta Linden – Space NI – Newry