As part of its membership of the Social Economy Alliance the University of Northampton was represented at a Labour Party Conference fringe meeting in Brighton by Wray Irwin, Head of the University Centre for Employment and Engagement.
This year’s event was designed to influence policy makers in the run up to the next general election. The Alliance’s meeting was attended by over a hundred guests from across the Labour movement, social enterprise sector, and national press.
Chaired by The Guardian, speakers addressed a range of issues and called for new thinking in the provision of welfare, the structuring of the economy, and the role of the State in the post financial crisis era. Of particular attention was the potential to increase the impact of the Social Value Act, if it were widened to include infrastructure development and the defining of social enterprise within a new sector of the economy called the ‘open sector’. This would provide an environment in which social innovation could be supported. The event also focused on the role of education, particularly Higher Education, in shaping the innovators and leaders of the future.
The messages the Social Economy Alliance portrayed link directly to the work of the University of Northampton and its commitment, through the Ashoka U ‘Changemaker’ designation, to promoting social enterprise and opening up the possibilities of the sector to students.
Wray Irwin commented: “Higher Education can clearly take the lead in helping to re-structure the economy and providing the new thinking needed in the delivery of social and health services. The University’s message is bi partisan, as we seek to influence politicians from all parties with this message and will be attending all major party conferences this year.”