iSE| CEO Sarah Crawley Blogs from the Social Enterprise World Forum 2018

As the SEWF2018 kicks off in Edinburgh, we catch up with Sarah Crawley to get the latest from the event in her first live blog.

I arrived at the World Forum full of excitement, really looking forward to an action packed four days of  networking, new idea harvesting and meeting inspirational people.

My week started early with a meeting of leads for all the Social Enterprise Places. There are now 26 recognised SE places in the UK, mostly in England as well as some new additions internationally. Both Digbeth and the city of Birmingham are Social Enterprise Places, representing the sector’s commitment to working together to grow the businesses within them, catalysing their impact in a ‘place’. It’s a fabulous initiative and iSE are proud to be secretariats to this work.


The meeting was fascinating – the places are enormously different – with geographically small areas like Digbeth or Alston Moor, towns and Boroughs like Hackney, cities such as Plymouth and regions for example Cornwall, and a mix of rural and urban areas with their distinct characteristics. The challenges, however, are the same, with each ‘place’ wanting to grow their local social enterprise sector to maximise impact. Although the ‘how’ might be slightly different, it was great to share learning, ideas and to inspire one another.

At 4pm we boarded a coach with a group of visitors from Taiwan, to be given a tour of some of Scotland’s trailblazing social enterprises. Some of the SEWF2018 Board Members and I then went to celebrate the launch of Callander as the first Scottish Social Enterprise Place.

The launch of Callander SE Place with the local community.

It was a fabulous evening of traditional Scottish dancing, not forgetting the customary bagpipes and display from the local children. It was great to see the young people benefiting from the SE Place, the Outlanders – a local clan in full kilts, an amazing Scottish Minister Aileen Campbell, and of course all of the sector supporters out in force.

Peter Holbrook, comedian chris Addison and the Scottish Minister for Communities and Local Government in the Scottish Parliament, Aileen Campbell.

What a great start to the Social Enterprise World Forum 2018, we’re looking forward to what day two has in store!