Social entrepreneur of the year winner announced

The winners of the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016 were announced in London last night.

First prize of £10,000 went to Sophie Unwin of Remade in Edinburgh, which campaigns for zero waste. Remade has premises called 'Remakeries' where people are taught to repair household goods such as computers, furniture and textiles. It also sells refurbished goods.

Before moving to Scotland, Unwin (pictured above, middle) lived in Brixton, London. She was inspired to start the social enterprise when she returned there after spending some time in Nepal "where a household of six of us created less than one dustbin of rubbish in a whole year", and being struck by the amount of packaging and waste that was produced as a result of the multiple choices in shops.

At the same time she met a man who repaired bikes who was struggling to make ends meet. Thus the idea of Remade took shape.

The story had a nice bit of synchronicity with last year’s winner, who was Jem Stein of The Bike Project. Unwin said she planned to use the £10,000 to seed fund a new project to share the Remade business model across the UK.

Unwin used her speech to remind the audience that Remade was also a campaigning organisation and said she would like policy makers to "invest in the solutions that prevent problems rather than just the things that clear up problems", which drew prolonged applause.

It is the fourth year of the award, which is a partnership between the banks, the School for Social Entrepreneurs and Big Lottery Fund. The Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme provides grants of £4,000 to £15,000 and access to a comprehensive learning support programme including a business mentoring scheme.  

When asked what Lloyds could learn from the social entrepreneurs the bank is supporting, Paula Rogers (pictured above, left), head of the social entrepreneurs programme, commented: "I would love to think that we could be much better at embedding social enterprises in our supply chain so that we genuinely use social enterprises to deliver good services. I also think there is a massive opportunity to use the insight from those individuals to inform our products and the way we engage with our client population."

The winners of the award were chosen by public vote, with 14,000 people voting. Second place and a prize of £6,000 went to Genie in the Gutter in Liverpool, a recovery service for substance misusers, with third place and £4,000 going to London Bubble, which supports children with communication issues through drama.