Leading figures from the third sector have met at GCU as part of the Yunus Centre's £2m study into the impact of social enterprise on the health and wellbeing of people and communities.

Around 30 social business operators, academics and representatives of membership organisations such as Social Enterprise Scotland met at the University to share best practice and to chart a common way forward.

This part of the third sector includes social enterprises which use business principles to generate social good; for example increasing employment in low income areas or improving housing

The Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) awarded GCU’s Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health and five other Universities in Scotland almost £2m in December for a five-year-study into the links between social business and health and wellbeing.

The meeting at GCU – the first in a series of bi-annual Knowledge Exchange Forums – was aimed at creating a dialogue between academics working in the field and a range of practitioners.

Fraser Kelly, Chief Executive Social Enterprise Scotland, said: “The collection of people in attendance are the most creative and imaginative thinkers in Scotland today in this area. We have an ability to look at what’s happening now and chart emerging trends.

“We want to respect the history of where social enterprise has come from, but now to look to the future. What can it be? Should we look at the scalability of social enterprise, the impact, and what should be our short, medium and long term goals as we move forward?”

GCU is leading the ‘Evidencing social enterprise as a public health and well-being intervention’ study, a collaboration between the social enterprise community in Scotland, and a number of like-minded partner universities. 
Professor Cam Donaldson, Director of the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, said: “The research programme is about two things. It’s about thinking about social enterprise a bit differently and it’s about rethinking public health. We still have growing health inequalities and there may be things out there, in terms of ways to ameliorate that, which haven’t yet been fully explored.”

GCU’s partner universities are Stirling, Glasgow, Robert Gordon, Highlands & Islands and the Glasgow School of Art. The Collaboration also includes the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and the Social Enterprise Academy as well as some specific social enterprises.