Harrogate firm beats Europe’s best to win social innovation prize

Angela Catley, of Harrogate-based social enterprise Community Catalysts, receives the 2013 European Social Innovation Prize from Jos� Manuel Barroso. (S)
Angela Catley, of Harrogate-based social enterprise Community Catalysts, receives the 2013 European Social Innovation Prize from Jos� Manuel Barroso. (S)
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A Harrogate-based community interest company has beaten a vast field of competitors to win the highly prestigious European Social Innovation Prize.

Community Catalysts was presented with an award and €20,000 by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso at a ceremony in Brussels.

The company, which is based in Copthall Bridge House, was one of just three winners selected from more than 600 entries from 35 European Union countries.

Angela Catley, who accepted the prize on behalf of Community Catalysts, said afterwards: “We were shocked and delighted by the award. There were so many good ideas put forward by so many good organisations.

“It’s amazing to win against such tough competition.”

The European Commission launched the Social Innovation Competition in October 2012 to tackle the issue of unemployment across the EU by boosting social innovation, which, it says, can “stimulate a more dynamic, inclusive and sustainable social market economy creating new products, services and businesses”.

It invited people with “new ideas on how to unlock fresh talent, skills, experience and insights... to create new forms of work for tomorrow”.

Community Catalysts’ winning proposal was to extend the reach and impact of its work with micro-enterprise by establishing a managed network of business mentors to support community entrepreneurs throughout the UK via an online platform.

The platform will connect talents in business and communities, creating jobs by helping people to use their creativity to set up sustainable, affordable small-scale social care and health services.

Community Catalysts was launched three years ago by Shared Lives Plus and aims to enable individuals and communities to provide a real choice of small-scale, personalised and high-quality social care and health services for local people in need of support.

It works through local partners – principally local authorities, health trusts and third-sector organisations – to stimulate and support the development of high-quality and sustainable local enterprises. It also supports the development of Shared Lives schemes and Homeshare programmes, which are models of social care based on mutually-valued relationships.

Of the 605 competition entries, just 30 made it to the semi-finals.