Maximising the way Northampton’s community can make the best possible use of the ‘social pound’ was focus of the Big Issue ‘How to Create a Social Echo’ conference, back in November 2018. Now, just a few months later, the key players from the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire businesses large and small, the NHS, social enterprises, charities and third sector organisations, have been back around the table, looking at success so far, and planning for the future at a ‘Social Echo Day’.
Hosted by Big Issue Founder, Lord Bird, the ‘Social Echo Day’ heard how in the months since the last conference, organisations across the county have been working hard on widening the web of social trading and have kick started numerous initiatives to boost the value of the local pound already. Social trading places an emphasis on developing and nurturing local trading connections and keeping cash spent circulating within the local community.
One standout local business who spoke at the conference was Golden Years, a community group offering events and activities for older people to get involved in run by Meg Neilan. Meg told the group of how following the conference, she was inspired to open a part-time used clothes shop, Kitty’s Closet, next to her business unit, profits of which go back into helping run Golden Years.
Focused on growing the local digital economy, Digital Northampton, a new independent organisation, supporting digital innovation in the area, has been launched. One of its key aims is to keep the University of Northampton’s digitally savvy graduates from leaving the town to pursue a career elsewhere.
The organisations around the table agreed on an action plan, consisting of ‘asks’ and ‘offers’ of what they want and can give to the local community in Northampton, and 13 attendees also volunteered to launch a steering committee that will take the idea of the social echo forward.
Keep up with the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #SocialEcho