By Tony McDonough - Consultant at Liverpool Business News -

Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation is one of several Merseyside organisations to be named in the top 100 social enterprises in the UK.

Also included in the NatWest SE100 Index is Knowsley-based social investment company, First Ark Social Invest, as well as the Furniture Resource Centre (FRC) and co-operative bakery Homebaked, both located in Liverpool.

There are more than 470,000 social enterprises doing vital work across the UK, so the 100 named on the list are in the top 1%. The NatWest list was compiled from almost 300 applicants around the country. Since it was established in 1996, originally as Train 2000, the Baltic Triangle-based Women’s Organisation has helped more than 50,000 women to create, or improve, their own businesses. It is also currently the lead agency for the successful Liverpool City region Enterprise Hub start-up support project.

In recent weeks The Women’s Organisation has helped lead a successful push to persuade the Government to extend its coronavirus businesses support scheme to those enterprises that had fallen through the gaps. Chief executive, Maggie O’Carroll, said: “We are incredibly proud to be named as one of the UK’s top 100 social enterprises. It is a real privilege to be counted in the top 1%. Core indicators of performance used in the NatWest SE100 Index include impact management, leadership, resilience and storytelling. These principles are more important than ever and offer firm assurance within the current crisis that the social sector is equipped with the speed of adaptation and resilience to face these challenges and continue, as always, to support those in need.”

Part of the Livv Housing Group, First Ark Social Investment offers financial help to social enterprises and social entrepreneurs. It supports established organisations and those looking to start out on their journey. Based close to the Liverpool waterfront, the FRC is now one of the leading suppliers of contract standard furniture in the country, working with housing associations and local authorities across the UK for more than 25 years.

Based in Anfield, Homebaked is a community land trust and co-operative bakery, which, under a previous guise, had been used by several generations of people in the area over many, many years. Located on the boundary between the neighbourhoods of Anfield and Everton and sitting opposite the Liverpool Football Club stadium, the project is co-owned and co-produced by people who live and work in the area. It started by saving this famous neighbourhood bakery from demolition and then developing it into a thriving community-run business once again, which will hopefully be enjoyed by many more generations.