Friday, 4 December 2009

Something to celebrate!

Well things are very quiet in the SEL office as we all contemplate the meaning of excess. Last night was the office Christmas party with the usual frivolities plus an extra bowling/karaoke dimension. Matt and I missed the bowling (sorry Matt) as we had to stay at the office dealing with a little media situation. More of that later. It seems our Emma is the bowling queen and as an activity it looks like becoming a SEL regular. Good job too I say, as I really am not fond of the ice skating we did last year. I sometimes wonder if they are trying to kill me.

After the bowling in Bloomsbury the troops de-bunked to an eatery in Covent Garden where we proceeded to wreck the evening of all non-SEL diners. The funny string, party bombs, and daglo hoops were a nice touch, thanks Gustavo (Its always the quiet ones you have to watch) and Matt impressed us all with his male multi tasking by being able to let off four party poppers simultaneously. Practically no one guessed their secret Santa as everyone had really done well, getting spot on gifts. Sabina is chuffed to bits with the holder for her new UK passport, Gustavo now has a guide to Miami where he plans to visit this Christmas, Joyce is crossing her fingers for the lottery tickets she got and Chris, the born again gardener is armed and ready with his book on herbs.

SEL's civilised, sombre Christmas do.

When we left I apologised to the manager who told me, cheerfully I thought, that the poppers/ streamers/ silly string etc had set a new benchmark in detritus. Another SEL first!

Talking of ground breakers last night was also the Social Enterprise Awards (sadly arranged after deposits were paid for the SEL do). I am chuffed that two SEL members were successful. Global Ethics, which produces One Water and One Condoms scooped Best Large Social Enterprise and Bikeworks in East London, which runs cycle training and trains homeless people as bike engineers, picked up Best New Social Enterprise. Big congratulations to Duncan Goose, Dave Miller and their respective teams for their frankly remarkable achievements. It strikes me that next to each other, Global Ethics and Bikeworks encapsulate perfectly the diversity in our sector. Both are London based, both sell normal (though very high quality) products, and both are led by strong, passionate social entrepreneurs. But from not dissimilar beginnings, the marks Global Ethics and Bikeworks make on the world are so different. Global Ethics has helped over 1 million people in developing countries access clean water and other life saving resources, whilst in two short years Bikeworks has transformed the lives of many of London’s most vulnerable citizens, as well as the health and wellbeing of countless others through its training programmes. Two social enterprises, two totally different social challenges, a phenomenal depth of impact. I’m proud to work with both of them.

Back to last night and the (shudder) karaoke. What can I say? I was a fright but led the way in making a tit of myself, as is the responsibility of a good leader. So after a few ear splitting Abba anthems I retired from the field to let the pros show us how it was done. Matt and Mei clearly stormed the field. Matt it turns out is quite the ham and seldom relinquished the microphone which was not such a bad thing as not only can he sing but we got a lot of drama and ‘movement’!? into the bargain. Hilarious. We dragged Lesley in kicking and screaming, but after a few Jaeger Bombs(!) she, Emma and Michelle provided 'Ronnets style' backing vocals to all (and I mean all) performances. Exhausting to watch. I didn’t touch the bombs as they smelled like cough medicine and I knew no matter how late I got back I’d be doing the school run this morning, so was spared the agony I see in the faces before me.
So, well done for making it in today everyone, well done to Sue for making it last night, think of us when you use your Super Sue mug and enjoy what’s left of your maternity leave, and well done Mei for organising such a great evening. Gustavo and Joyce please note your presence will be required at the next karaoke evening as we all long to hear once again Gus’s version of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, and no one does Bob Marley like Joyce. I think it is very important to celebrate success. Every one of the SEL lovelies has done brilliantly this year, working long into the night to deliver what I think is the best service to social enterprises anywhere and it is a lovely thing that we obviously really enjoy one another’s company. Just as well as we spend so much time together.

Have a great weekend everyone especially Duncan at Global ethics and Dave at BikeWorks, you’ve all done very well!!!(Does anyone remember Are You Being Served?)

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