On January 28th 2022, GMSEN in partnership with Flourish Together CIC hosted our third face to face #SocialEconomySocial coming out of the pandemic, designed to create a space for networking and sharing for Greater Manchester social entrepreneurs and those working in the social economy space. These events have also been an excellent reason to support local food and drink social enterprises after meeting in November with MetMUnch on MMU campus and in October at Open Kitchen Café and Bar at People’s History Museum.

Nickala Torkington from Flourish Together hosted and generously sponsored the event, offering a free drink and also delicious pizzas to attendees courtesy of the wonderful Old Abbey Taphouse in Manchester Science Park – a ‘community hub in a pub’. The Old Abbey Taphouse is the flagship venue of STEAM Hubs and Pubs CIC, a social enterprise creating safe spaces for the community to relax and learn something new. They offer food and drink, an events venue, have studio spaces and also host a whole range of community projects and initiatives. It was a fantastic community setting for networking and also a great chance to enjoy some delicious food and drink together on a cold January evening in their sheltered outdoor events space. Just before our social there were various bands setting up on a stage ready to perform later in the evening.

Despite the chill, the event attracted 25 attendees travelling from Manchester, Wigan, Bolton and Salford. Taking inspiration from the setting of the Old Abbey Taphouse, Nickala convened a panel of inspiring women social enterprise leaders and changemakers who have either developed or supported the development of community venues and assets across Greater Manchester and also Liverpool:

Rachele Everoa – Old Abbey Taphouse
Rachel Summerscales – GM Community-led Housing (and previously at Hulme Community Garden Centre)
Erika Rushton – Kindred LCR in Liverpool
Elisabeth Hamilton – 1PointBolton

The panel discussion covered a lot of ground, offering tips and sharing experiences for attendees looking to develop their own community spaces. Stories were shared of finding premises, regenerating derelict spaces, moving into heritage spaces and how connections have been strengthened with the local community. Tips and guidance were shared around engaging with local councils and how to strengthen a proposal to take over a council-owned building. Lots of ‘dos and don’ts’ were shared as panel members talked about the highs and lows of getting their own community ventures going and sustaining them.

Thanks to all who came along and Nickala for organising, sponsoring & facilitating, the panellists for their time and willingness to share, and to Rachele and the Old Abbey Taphouse for providing such a great venue, and keeping us well fed and watered.

To stay up to date on future GMSEN events, make sure to register with the network via this link.