USE IT | Students Inspired by Social Enterprise Sector

iSE’s USE IT interns, Rebecca and Molly, share their thoughts as the tourism social enterprise mapping research findings are presented to iSE.

Our 3-month placement at iSE is now at an end. We have thoroughly enjoyed gaining some valuable skills and experience.

Our key task was exploring opportunities for social enterprise tourism in Ladywood as part of the USE-IT! project. Our research included finding examples of good practise and innovative concepts surrounding social enterprise tourism as well as looking at how the tourism sector is evolving within Birmingham.

We have also explored Ladywood and the surrounding areas by foot to help visualise potential assets that could be utilised for this project. As a result, we believe combining L Rebecca and R Molly UoB Interns Jan 2018 croppedexisting community engagement with previous environmental campaigns with ideas from our good practise research would be the best way forward.

Some ideas that caught our eye during the social enterprise tourism research were:

Plastic Whale is a CIC operating in Amsterdam running plastic fishing excursions and making boats out of recovered waste.



Plastic Whale







Bridge 8 Hub CIC operates in Edinburgh and it is a water sports activity hub with vision being made from reusable shipping containers.

Bridge and Co

Hubbub is a CIC similar to Plastic Whale, however operating on the River Thames in London. They produced the first recycled plastic boat called ‘Poly-Mer’

Whilst these ideas are relatively large scale seeing as Birmingham has nothing similar in place, we feel that they demonstrate the potential to bring attention back to Birmingham’s canals. From looking at other social enterprise places, Plymouth is a good example of a social enterprise city that has utilised aspects of tourism, such as the arts and food sector to grow the social entrepreneurship of the city, as the sector employs 7,000 people and brings £500 million to the city’s economy. We feel like Birmingham, as a whole city, has the ability to utilise the great natural assets it has, such as the canal, to grow the social enterprise tourism market within the city.

Simon Veasey, iSE’s Director of Business Development, added, “Rebecca and Molly have done some invaluable work which will feed directly into the planned Tourism Consortium discussions we are holding over the Summer. It has been a pleasure working with them in the team and it appears from their feedback they have both had a positive and valuable experience working in the social enterprise sector”.

Rebecca said, “My 3-month placement at iSE has been an invaluable experience and it has made me want to pursue working within this sector after finishing my degree. To help this become a reality, I have applied to various social enterprise summer internships where I hope to continue to gain more experience in this exciting growing sector. It has been a pleasure to work in such a positive working environment within the iSE office and to work alongside the fantastic team that works there.”

Molly added, “As a University of Birmingham student whose knowledge of Birmingham shamefully didn’t extend far beyond the like of New Street and the increasingly ‘studentified’ Selly Oak, it has been a real privilege to undertake research for i-SE, where I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about the USE-IT! project areas, as well as experience of working in the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter and the Women’s Social Enterprise Hub in Sparkbrook. This placement has been a great opportunity to experience an office environment before being sent out into the working world post-graduation in July. I am extremely grateful that I could do this at such an aspirational company, who have afforded me their time, patience, expertise, and also a generous supply of cake!

The first few months of any new business venture are often the hardest and starting your own social enterprise is no different. iSE has been working as part of the USE-IT! 3 year ERDF funded project to grow opportunities for both emerging social enterprises and supporting the growth plans of existing enterprises across the West Birmingham and Smethwick area over the past 12 months.

Please feel free to contact iSE if you would like to know more about our USE-IT programme in Soho, Smethwick and Ladywood.

Simon Veasey | 0121 441 1711 |

This project is co-financed by the European Regional and Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative