Thursday, 8 September 2011

This week, all shall have prizes

Wythenshawe hospital's biomass boiler helped scoop last year's overall Guardian winner award.
Photograph: Jill Jenning

Everyone is back from their holidays and there is something in the air, is it change? This time of year usually sees us all gearing up to hit the ground running for the autumn round of contract procurement, policy debates and sales pitches and that is all kicking off with even more than the usual bang with the Health Bill getting its third reading and a right old argy-bargy about the Social Enterprise Mark in the Guardian, so what gives? I’m not sure, but while I’m keeping an eye on the temperature of social enterprise, I have really enjoyed judging the Guardian Public Service Awards this week and tonight I’m off to interview the social enterprise candidates shortlisted for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

These awards give social enterprises unparalleled opportunities to tell the world about the incredible work that they do and the difference they make, something that has never been more necessary. Yesterday, David Brindle of the Guardian told us that there had been over 500 applicants for their prestigious public service awards and if the shortlist was anything to go by, it was a very strong field indeed. As judges we had a great debate, none of which I can divulge of course but I sat next to Shaun Bailey of MyGeneration who I had seen on telly but not had a chance to meet, and our discussions over the nominations really gave us all a chance to interrogate one another’s experiences, views and beliefs. Fascinating.

The lovely Tim Campbell was also in my group. He, like Shaun, has set up a social enterprise Bright Ideas Trust after being a successful apprentice because he is passionate about supporting young people. Those two were just two in a room heaving with impressive judges challenged to decide between applicants, all of whom could be classified as winners.

To get the results of the Guardian and Ernst & Young awards you will have to wait until they are announced later in the year. I have to say having seen the shortlist of tonight’s social enterprises which I am to interview, it’s going to be a really tough call. They are all stunning and with my passion for social enterprise it will be like having to decide between my children, impossible!

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