This week we were honoured and delighted that People, Place and Participation Ltd won the UK’s Social Enterprise Award of the Year in the category ‘Place-Based Enterprise’ for its work creating Flo’s – The Place in the Park. It seems almost inconceivable now that our much loved and well used community enterprise hub, was just a twinkle in the eye of its founders 5 years ago when we persuaded Oxfordshire County Council to take a leap of faith and give over this building for use by the community for the community. Over the course of the last 5 years we have grown a childcare nursery, a cafe and a ‘refill shop’ for basic foodstuffs. Flo’s also houses the Isis community midwives team and hosts many other organisations, whilst working with others to deliver numerous community programmes for people facing barriers to accessing the support they need.
Colleagues Makena Lohr, Communities Manager, and Candida March, Interim Director attended the award ceremony and accepted the trophy from the generous sponsors, The Esmée Fairburn Foundation. Makena Lohr said: “We’re delighted to be recognised as the Place-Based Social Enterprise of the UK 2022. Flo’s is the effort of local people coming together to make a difference in Cowley, Oxford – it’s an experiment in bringing together the local economy with providing vital community services … and its working. A good example is that on Mondays, lunch & drinks at Flo’s cafe are on a “pay-what-you-can basis ”
Candida March, Interim Director, who was also the first person to be Chair of Flo’s, has seen its journey from the beginning. She is care-taking the role of interim Director with support from Annie Davy, another founding member – whilst we look for the right person to take the organisation forward to its next phase. We know this will be an important pivotal next step for the organisation.
We have a talented team and we are very proud of what has been achieved. But we are acutely aware that there are many and growing needs in our community. There is a 13-year life expectancy gap between some communities living in East Oxford (OX4) and the wealthier, better known parts of Oxford City. There is real food insecurity and inequality and there are many families needing more support and fairer chances to get the skills, jobs and health services they need.
This is the season to be grateful and we are particularly appreciative of the many other enterprises who have supported us, such as Aspire Oxfordshire who helped us in the early stages, and the support and solidarity of other enterprising local organisations such as Makespace, CAG Oxfordshire and Oxfordshire Social Enterprise Partnership. Our dual landlords, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, have also played their part, supporting where they can, and we have received funding and support from many organisations. Without this support we would not have been able to achieve what we have. The last four years have been an exciting journey for Flo’s and most of all we could not have done it without the support of our local community – our members and volunteers, our team and board, and our customers – who have given so much good will. Thank you – we cannot be winners without a little (or a lot) help from our friends.
from Left to Right: Candida March- Interim Director, Makena Lohr- Communities Manager, Veda Harrison – Director of Creative, Confident Communities & a Fairer Future at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation