Our 'UK regional and national spotlight' campaign focuses on ‘Place’, spotlighting the power of social investment from each and every corner of the UK. Today, we’re spotlighting the South West...

The South West is home to the longest coastline of any English region. Covering an impressive 9,200 square miles it's geographically one of the largest regions in England, although interestingly the third least-populous, with around five million residents. With the rugged cliffs of Cornwall, the dreamy sandy beaches of Devon and the jaw-droppingl beauty of the Jurassic Coast, it's no real surprise many opt for a staycation in this special part of the world. 

In addition to geography, the South West is also home to Glastonbury, one of the largest music festivals in the world and the historic cities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath, renowned for their medieval and Roman influences. 

There's a thriving social enterprise community in the South West and there's plenty of exciting social investment activity to celebrate. In this blog, we'll spotlight any South West-based content available on our website. 

Case studies

One of the best ways to learn more about social investment and how it can be used is through examples. Good Finance has 115 case studies and counting – here we spotlight just five recent stories from the South West...

Ambition Community Energy

Ambition Community Energy in Bristol is revolutionising local energy with their wind turbine project, funded by £750,000 in investment and £150,000 from Power to Change. This initiative supports 3,000 homes in Lawrence Weston, aiming to reduce fuel poverty and create green jobs. All profits from electricity sales will be reinvested in the local community. Discover more about their impactful journey in our full case study and if you want to learn more about using social investment for to finance energy saving measures, check out the Good Finance Energy Resilience Hub!

Gloucestershire Gateway Trust

Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT) in Gloucester uses a £158,000 loan and £62,000 grant to support local communities during the pandemic. Partnered with M5 Gloucester Services, they reinvest in local projects and people - adding yet another benefit to stopping off at the nations' favourite service station! Discover more about their impactful work in our full case study.

Local Food Links

Local Food Links is a social enterprise in Dorset providing healthy school meals. They've used a £200,000 unsecured loan from CAF Venturesome to grow and reach more schools. Local Food Links focuses on freshly prepared, nutritious meals, supporting local businesses and creating community jobs. Discover more about their journey and positive impact on children's well-being via the case study.

Zion Community Cafe

Zion Community Cafe is well-loved Cafe in Bristol that runs a large variety of community events, children’s groups, support groups, ticketed events and provides spaces to hire for meetings, groups and private events. They used Community Shares and the Community Ownership Fund (COF) to save their venue. Here's how. 


Local residents in West Cornwall are working together to find their own solutions to address issues in their communities. Near Redruth, Ecodynamic has installed a wind turbine to provide green energy and provide consistent revenue to support local projects. Check out their case study to earn more about their experiences with social investment.

South West Case Studies

Check out our Case Study Mapper and filter by South West to view all of the case studies we have from organisations that have harnessed the power of social investment in the region. 

Have you got a social investment story to tell? We’d love to spotlight more examples of social investment in action in the South West to support organisations that are currently exploring repayable finance. You can submit your experiences online here, alternatively email aconstable@goodfinance.org.uk to arrange content collection.

South West: Must-Reads

We also have various blogs, media and news from the South West that help to provide a place-based perspective on the region. From guest blogs and opinion pieces to interviews with investees, here’s a couple of must-read's...

Harnessing social investment to tackle oral health inequality

Smile Together, a dental social enterprise in Cornwall, received a £1m investment from Big Issue Invest in 2018. This funding enabled them to open a new, accessible dental centre, enhancing their services for patients. Their strong relationship with their investor includes regular updates and shared success stories, like winning awards for social investment. Smile Together continues to navigate challenges, such as the cost of living crisis, by focusing on employee engagement and sustainable practices.

Learn more about their journey and impact in our full blog post.

Kick-starting a new journey

South Bristol Sports Centre, a charity offering diverse sports facilities, has transformed from a loss-making venue into a thriving social enterprise since its inception in 2006. With a vision to enhance and sustain its services, they planned to build new football pitches for increased user availability and income. Collaborating with Bristol & Bath Regional Capital CIC (BBRC) and securing a £900,000 social investment, they expanded their offerings and secured the centre's future.

This investment not only supports the centre but also creates opportunities for young people through sport. Learn more about their journey.

Guest Blogs from Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark 

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is based in Plymouth and they support and enable social enterprises around the world to prove they are the best businesses for both people and planet. As one of our valued Marketing Partners, we've been delighted to host two of Lucy's fantastic guest blogs: What is Degrowth and Access to Finance: Challenging Social Investors to think differently. Read today to learn more from her expertise on these topics! 

South West: Watch and Listen 

Over the years, we've ran various events, both in-person and online and captured some of our amazing 'Hear From a Peer' speakers as they reflect on their experiences with social investment. We also have over 75 Podcasts, all of which are available to listen to via the streaming service of your choice. Here's our pick for the South West...

Let's Talk Good Finance Bristol

In the 'Let's Talk Good Finance Bristol' podcast we explore the world of social investment with insights from Bristol's community and social enterprise scene, supported by Voscur. Guest speaker Robin Halpenny from Bearpit Bristol CIC shares valuable experiences on using social investment as a tool to grow and enhance their operations. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the transformative power of social finance. Dive into the full podcast for more insights and stories.

Celebrating Changemakers: Poole Communities Trust

In our 'Celebrating Changemakers' podcast series, we are joined by Debbie Dixon, Project Manager at Poole Communities Trust. Based in Poole, a coastal town in Dorset known for its beautiful beaches and thriving businesses, the Trust addresses significant local inequalities. Their mission is to foster community and economic growth, focusing on developing community facilities and creating spaces where people can flourish. Tune in to hear how they're using social investment to make a significant impact in Poole.

Let's Talk Good Finance: Survive and Thrive with Social Investment

Is social investment the key to enabling charities and social enterprises in in Gloucestershire to thrive? Our 2021 Let's Talk Good Finance event explores the basics of social investment and how it can be used by organisations in Gloucestershire and beyond, to survive and thrive during difficult times. Learn more and catch up on demand today via our YouTube channel.

Spotlight On: Voscur Bristol 

When it comes to knowledge on social investment, infrastructure and support organisations in the local area play a vital role in sharing information, signposting to tools / resources and connecting organisations who might be right for social investment with those that can help them with next steps. 

Voscur Bristol is the support and development agency for Bristol's Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector and their vision is to improve the quality of life for the people of Bristol. 

We caught up with Enterprise Project Manager, Sarah Martin, on her reflections on 2023 and hopes for 2024 and beyond...

What has been your highlight for 2023?  

Having the privilege to work alongside some inspirational charities and social enterprises who are dealing with incredibly difficult issues with great courage, skill and dedication.

Do you have any standout examples or experiences that you think demonstrate the resilience of the charity / social enterprise sector?  

We run a social enterprise peer learning brokerage, to enable experienced social enterprise leaders to be paid to give their time and expertise to new and emerging enterprises. This financially supports experienced enterprises, but also upskills and provides lived experience leadership to emerging enterprises. It has been very popular and impactful in Bristol.

What’s the social investment space like in your region? 

It feels like an easier task for larger, better resourced organisations than those with more barriers to development. Some organisations have identified a disconnect between the language of social enterprise and social investment, and the language/culture of running a charity/small social enterprise.

What would be your #1 tip for a charity or social enterprise for 2024 and beyond?  

Plan ahead if you can, especially where cash flow is concerned, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support

What are your key objectives and goals for 2024?  

To work with those organisations in Bristol with the greatest barriers and experiencing the greatest inequalities to be able to thrive as social enterprises.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge(s) for 2024 and beyond? 

Funding the support that organisations need to enable them to grow and prepare for social investment.

That’s a wrap for today! We are delighted to celebrate the social investment space in the South West, and we know there is so much more social impact and social investment happenings in the region. 

If we’ve missed anything or you’d like to chat to us about featuring more content based in the South West on Good Finance, please email aconstable@goodfinance.org.uk and we’d love to chat further! 

Have a browse off various regional and national spotlight's across the UK!

- Spotlight series: West Midlands

- Spotlight series: East Midlands

- Spotlight series: North West

- Spotlight series: South East

- Spotlight series: London

- Spotlight series: Scotland

- Spotlight series: Yorkshire and Humber

- Spotlight series: East England

- Spotlight series: North East

- Spotlight series: Northern Ireland

- Spotlight series: Wales