Katharine Hamnett CBE & Jo Wood head red carpet at UK Social Enterprise Awards

The annual celebration of British social enterprise was hosted by Scottish comedian and actress, Susan Calman, who entertained the 400 guests along with quirky songwriter and performer Lorraine Bowen of Britain’s Got Talent fame.

Katharine Hamnett CBE took to the stage to present the Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year award to Instant Neighbour, which provides furniture recycling services in Scotland. Jo Wood presented the Women in Social Enterprise Award to Julie Hawker, chief executive of Cosmic IT, a digital agency based in Devon.

Lord Victor Adebowale, patron of Social Enterprise UK and chief executive of Turning Point, presented the Health and Social Care Social Enterprise of the Year award to Leading Lives, an employee-owned co-operative which supports adults with complex needs living in Suffolk.

For the first time the categories included the Independent on Sunday Reader’s Choice Award. The winning social enterprise, WildHearts In Action, secured the highest number of votes from readers of the national newspaper and its Editor, Lisa Markwell, presented the winner with their award on stage. The Independent on Sunday is media partner to the Awards.

The Awards, organised by the trade and membership body Social Enterprise UK, recognises outstanding achievements by social enterprises – businesses that reinvest their profits good, benefitting people and planet. The UK has more than 70,000 social enterprises, contributing more than £24 billion to the economy each year.

The 13 winners were presented with bespoke trophies made by the Yorkshire based social enterprise, Henshaws Arts & Crafts, which supports people with disabilities. Social enterprises supplied all the goods and services on the night, including the catering, drinks and flower displays.

Peter Holbrook CBE, Social Enterprise UK’s chief executive, said:

“Social enterprises are needed more than ever to tackle the social and environmental problems facing Britain. Congratulations to the winners – the competition was fierce. Every year the Awards are a celebration of the social enterprise sector, but this year was truly remarkable. It was the largest Awards we’ve hosted to date with more than 400 guests and a wonderful evening for the UK’s social enterprise business community.”

2015 winners

Independent on Sunday Reader’s Choice Award – WildHearts In Action

Glasgow-based WildHearts In Action uses its profits from selling office and business supplies to fund the work of the WildHearts Foundation. It has transformed the lives of more than 50,000 people in 37 developing countries through microfinance, and has taught entrepreneurial and employability skills to more than 25,000 British young people

Social Enterprise of the Year – Vi-Ability

Vi-Ability offers the disengaged training, work experience and qualifications in commercial sports management. In doing so also helping to sustain thriving community sports clubs around the UK

One to Watch – Penrhys Partnership – Big Click

Big Click is a trading arm of Penrhys Partnership, a community regeneration charity supporting disadvantaged communities. Based in South Wales, Big Click is a mobile app development agency, and delivers training to encourage the next generation of tech developers in the Welsh Valleys

Social Impact Award – SolarAid/SunnyMoney

SolarAid/Sunnny Money combats poverty and climate change by selling solar lights in Africa

Buy Social Market Builder – Merthyr Valleys Homes

Merthyr Valleys Homes have created contracting frameworks to encourage ‘buying social’, and spent £180k in the past year with social enterprises

Investment Deal of the Year – Resonance/Fare Share

FareShare takes surplus food from supermarkets and distributes it to people living in food poverty. Resonance helped the small charity complete the first ever social investment tax relief deal

Health & Social Care Social Enterprise – Leading Lives

Leading Lives is an employee-owned co-operative providing high quality social care support in the home and in the community for adults with complex needs across Suffolk

Consumer Facing Social Enterprise – The Phone Co-op Limited

The Phone Co-op Limited is the UK’s only customer-owned telecoms and internet service provider. Democratically run by its customers, it serves 30,000 businesses and consumers –

Education, Training & Jobs Social Enterprise – Creative Alliance

Creative Alliance helps talented young people to get into creative roles through careers education, apprenticeships, traineeships and business support schemes

Environmental Social Enterprise – Instant Neighbour

Instant Neighbour provide services across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, including furniture recycling, furniture storage and employability training

Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award – The Aim Sky High Company

The Aim Sky High Company is a Manchester-based dance organisation for people aged 2 – 25, using the arts to teach leadership, teamwork and career planning –

Women in Social Enterprise Award – Julie Hawker at Cosmic IT

Over the past 16 years Julie Hawker has dedicated her time to developing Cosmic as a successful social enterprise, whilst contributing significantly to social enterprise development and support across the South West and UK

International Impact – Zaytoun CIC

Zaytoun CIC support Palestinian farming families to sustain resilient livelihoods and share their vibrant culture by helping them to grow sales of high quality fairly-traded produce