Former Children’s Services Worker Opens Social Enterprise

By | May 14, 2013

This week I have had conversations with 2 people at York St John University who have commented that the landscape is changing for the public sector in the UK. Many of our students are on teacher education or health sector professional courses. My colleagues have suggested that now is a very good time to be helping them to think about starting a social enterprise using their professional knowledge as a strong foundation.  Many of our students wish to go into the public sector because they want to ‘put something back’ into society. These are the values that motivate many people to open a socially-focused business or enterprise. The Students’ Union at York St John is really interested in promoting  social enterprise and have written this article.



‘Labelled’ is a wonderful example someone from the public sector using her knowledge and experience in a business for social benefit.

This new  Community Interest Company (CIC) in the North-East of England is preparing to launch its very first fashion shop aimed entirely at young people.

After months of trading at markets and festivals all over the region, Darlington-based Patchwork People has recently opened its first shop, ‘Labelled’.

‘Labelled’ will be run by young volunteers from the region and will offer a high-street facility to sell on quality fashion items, jewellery and accessories, some of which are made by the volunteers working with Patchwork People.

This social enterprise offers employment and training to young people in a commercial environment on either a full or part-time basis. It was set up by former Children’s Services worker Gill Walker, who wants to help young people by preparing them for a more successful future.

See the full article here

Best of luck to all the staff involved in this social enterprise! It would be great if Gill or any of the young people working at ‘Labelled’ (maybe somebody in the photo?) could let us know how it’s going and what it means to you. I’d love to get an insider’s view! Please post a reply below.


7 thoughts on “Former Children’s Services Worker Opens Social Enterprise

  1. Graham Bright

    These ladies have written a great little book about their experience of seeting up a Social Enterprise – a good little read which signposts pitfalls and how to overcome them. What they are accomplishing is a triumph.

  2. Mike Calvert

    I’ve just been back to their website this morning and see that they were given a prestigious award last week in London. Go to to read more.

    Well done, Gill and Marj (and the trestle table)!

  3. Gill Walker

    Hello everyone – thanks so much for your kind comments. Our social enterprise is going from strength. Our Labelled shop has now been open 20 months, this offers young people experience in a real business environment. We support young people furthest from the job market in this high street base – we also continue to trade at events and markets across the North East. (with our trusty trestle table!) We have also been recognised by C4EO (Centre for Excellence and Outcomes) as validated local practice. Over the last 6 months we have developed a fully costed ‘replication’ plan as we have others interested in our Labelled model. Last week’s success in the Big Venture Challenge will support us in attracting investment, with the potential for match funding, to enable us to launch our Labelled social franchise. In our first 2 years of trading we have reduced our grant dependency from 70% to 20 % whilst doubling our turnover. We continue to grow and learn – and love every minute of it ! 🙂

    1. Margaret Meredith Post author

      Many thanks, Gill and congratulations on the award and on the way ‘Labelled’ is going from strength to strength. It’s inspirational. It would be great to do a case study on you and on Patchwork People in the future, maybe for our newsletter and the website.

  4. Mike Calvert

    I continue to be impressed by Gill’s work and it is good to see how she is following what Yunus would advise about reducing and even eliminating the need for external funding. So many initiatives rely on and create a dependancy on charitable funding. I’ll be paying her a return visit soon if she has time to see me.

    I’ve got very interested in this area and am reading an inspirational book by Muhammad Yunus (of Grameen Bank) Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs”. He points out the difference between a social enterprise and a social business. He separates the need to make a profit from the altruistic. He says that once you let profit lift the flap on the tent, it will take over the space.

    I’ve started supporting a colleague in Kenya who is mentoring a group of women who are engaged in micro enterprises. Following Yunus’ example, I’ve decided that it is not a good idea to have a dividend but to use any surplus to provide further support. Let me know if you want to be involved or find out more.

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