Grays town centre was transformed on Thursday (18 November) into a Social Enterprise Market Place — the first of its kind in the area.
In all, 15 social enterprises gathered in George Street to sell goods and services to the public.
Social enterprises are businesses with charitable and environmental objectives at their heart, and the Market Place was a chance to see what they offer and to learn about the benefits they create.
The event was organised by Thurrock Council under the Low Carbon Business Programme as part of the Government’s package of publicly funded business support designed to help companies start and grow.
The social enterprises who took part included the Thurrock Re-use Project — selling a mix of goods from computer monitors to sofas — Thurrock Play Network selling craft materials, Thurrock Mind promoting their gardening services and selling plants, and Café 4 U, selling cakes and hot drinks.
Other goods and services being showcased included the Essex Savers Credit Union (now in Thurrock), dance school membership, and volunteering.
Dave Lawrence from the Thurrock Re-use project said: ‘It’s great to see so many enterprises here today, but there are more opportunities for social enterprises to grow in the borough. With the funding cuts happening, charities and public sector bodies need to look hard at trading to continue providing their services.
“Thurrock can provide the help to start something off. Use it while it lasts.”
Mr Lawrence was presented with the Social Enterprise Mark, at the event, by Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for Regeneration. Cllr Andy Smith, who said: “This was a remarkable event, showing the social enterprise sector in Thurrock is really thriving with established organisations like TRUP alongside up-and-coming ones like the new credit union.
“It was a pleasure to meet so many enthusiastic people giving their all for the people of our borough.”
This programme is supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is managed by East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and is being delivered in this area by Thurrock Council.