The aim of the SEEM DP was to test and promote new means of combating discrimination and inequality in the labour market. This was to be achieved by developing the infrastructure to support social enterprise, giving access to training, knowledge, increasing base capacity and demonstrating social enterprise as a business model.
Key priorities and actions were:
- developing a common understanding of and piloting local solutions to the way in which the social economy could encourage labour market integration
- identifying and testing models for effective labour market interventions
- clarifying the rationale and objectives of the sector
- providing clarity of purpose and function for the sector and encouraging sustainable routes to regeneration and employment rather than short term interventions
- developing sectoral solutions for tackling social and economic exclusion
- developing and testing appropriate mechanisms for delivering inclusion
- informing mainstream policy and influencing the design and implementation of mainstream services and funding strategies
- informing policy development and implementation through local authority planning and procurement policies, specifically informing Best Value
- implementing neighbourhood renewal policies, employment strategies, regional economic strategy and implementation of SBS social inclusion and competitiveness agendas
- developing cohesion within the sector
The growing emphasis on delivering responses to economic and social exclusion through social economy structures raised a number of challenges for the social enterprise sector and the infrastructure agencies supporting it. The DP was created as a response to the identified need of the sector within the East Midlands region to address these challenges, to promote the sustainable growth of the sector and to support its ability to empower individuals and communities to develop responses to the failures of markets and traditional public sector interventions. The DP covered the whole of the East Midlands. As such, the DP had membership from pan regional agencies and those working in specific geographical or thematic arenas.
Target beneficiary groups
The DP provided specific support to projects working with disabled people, women, people experiencing rural isolation and ethnic minorities. A number of other projects focused on particular disadvantaged geographies supporting individuals experiencing a range of different barriers. One social enterprise project targeted ex-offenders.
By the end of the financial year 2003-4, the infrastructure Partners in the DP had reached over 300 people interested in social enterprise and over 150 established and emerging social enterprises. All interventions were based on meeting the needs of the beneficiary in relation to social enterprise and many interventions were significant and long-term. Many partners found the experience of working together improved their ability to meet the needs of existing and emerging social enterprises and formal and informal working relationships were established.