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York MP backs social economy project
A YORK project which focuses on doing business with a social purpose has been backed by one of the city’s MPs.
York St John University has launched a scheme which is looking into the “social economy” and how economic activity can be carried out among the community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors, such as through co-operatives, mutuals and not-for-profit organisations.
The course is funded by the European Union’s Erasmus Mundus programme, which seeks to promote business with a “strong social purpose”, and will produce a handbook about the social economy which can be used to guide other courses, prepare students to work in the sector and challenge the “profit at all costs” approach.
York Central MP Hugh Bayley, who agreed to be interviewed and videoed for the project newsletter, visited the university yesterday to take questions in York’s social economy sector and his experiences of community-based business. He also looked round the Phoenix Centre, based on York St John’s campus, which allows graduates to start their own enterprises with the support of mentors and has European regional funding.
“The consequences of the economic downturn, such as increased inequality, inadequate job creation and stagnant or declining standards of living, has shown new thinking is needed to create more good jobs, especially for young people, to raise education and skill levels and reform finance and support innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Mr Bayley.
“Some of these jobs will be not-for-profit. There is growing interest in co-operatives, mutuals like building societies and York-based Benenden Health, and social enterprisses like York Furniture Store and the busineses York St John University’s Erasmus project are working on.”
Course co-ordinator Margaret Meredith said there was “a common good” at the social economy’s core, saying: “The aim is to make studies and practical experience of this sector more visible in higher education - we believe politicians should be paying more attention and it is encouraging that Hugh Bayley has met us to talk about it.”
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