Date: 11/10/2012

Ashton Community Trust scooped several awards at the 2012 Social Enterprise Awards held in Belfast Castle last Thursday night. ACT won regeneration social enterprise of the year and social enterprise leader of the year. Ashton were also highly commended in new product or service (Fab Lab) and overall Social Enterprise. Well done Ashton!!!

Press Release Issued 16 October 2012

North Belfast award winning charity Ashton Community Trust has scooped another handful of star accolades in the recent Social Enterprise NI Awards.

The organisation won a total of four awards at the Belfast Castle event with its Chief Executive Paul Roberts, named as Social Enterprise Leader of the Year 2012.

Ashton was also named as best Social Enterprise in the regeneration category and was highly commended in the Social Enterprise of the Year and the Best New Product or Service categories.

The Awards highlight and promote excellence in the social economy sector across NI. The enterprises which make up the sector are businesses with primarily social objectives and their surpluses are put back into the business or into the community, rather than to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.

Ashton’s policy of reinvesting in the North Belfast community has meant that the majority of their 140-strong workforce are local people which in turn has brought stability to an area ranked highly in deprivation and unemployment measures. Ashton has sought to regenerate the area not only through the creation of jobs but also turning derelict pieces of land into thriving social hubs. Ashton’s McSweeney Centre in Henry Place just off Carlisle Circus is now an important one stop shop that offers daycare, complementary therapies, essential skills, history programmes and good relations initiatives.

Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland who attended the event said, “These awards highlight the importance of the social economy sector in Northern Ireland. They are also a recognition of this sector’s significant contribution to the Programme for Government’s key priority to ‘Grow a Sustainable Economy and Invest in the Future.’ I am particularly pleased to be able to present the Social Enterprise Regeneration Award.”

He continued, “My Department will continue to support and invest in social enterprise growth, with a focus on community benefit rather than private profit. The social enterprise model can bring innovation and make a real difference to community regeneration and improved delivery of public services. I want to pass on my personal congratulations to all the award winners.”

CEO of Ashton Community Trust Paul Roberts said he was thrilled with the wins.

“I am truly delighted to win this award and for the work of Ashton Community Trust to be recognised in this way. Ashton was set up by local people and it is the contribution of volunteers and dedicated staff that has made this possible. I would like to take this chance to thank everyone who has supported us and helped us develop our work.”

Audrey Murray, Chair of the Social Enterprise Awards (NI) said, “Selecting the winners was incredibly difficult, all of the entries were of a high standard. We are delighted and amazed at the breadth of organisations represented and the diversity of the work they are doing. Some of tonight’s winners will go on to represent Northern Ireland in the Social Enterprise Awards in London and we wish them every success.”

She continued, “The Awards were made possible through the pledge of support and sponsorship from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Invest Northern Ireland, the Department for Social Development, the Department for Rural Development, the Charity Bank, UCIT and PWC, and we would like to thank them for all their support.”

Full details of the 2012 winners are available online:

http://www.nicva.org/news/social-enterprise-awards-northern-ireland