Members of the Enterprise North West team attended the Atlantic Social Lab partner meeting in Toulouse in November to consider and debate action for social change with a wide range of social change actors from across Northern Ireland, the UK and Europe. The Atlantic Social Lab programme is a unique programme that aims to develop and promote social innovation approaches and methods to implement responses to key growing social issues within citizens, third sector and social enterprises as well as the public sector. It aims to work with innovative initiatives that are tackling many of the social challenges faced by local communities post-Covid that have detrimental effects on people who live there.
Attendees of Atlantic Social Lab meeting networked and partook in the plenary sessions in reflecting on emerging thinking and practice that is driving local social change and present recommendations on what needs to be done to drive change in specific territories. The event, plenary sessions and study visits also celebrated the role of community development activists and organisations and how, as social change agents, they facilitate the empowerment of citizens to shape the spaces they live in, challenge the status quo and speak truth to power.
The attendance and involvement of local stakeholders (social enterprises, social entrepreneurs, community and voluntary groups and local council) from different territories has significant value for social change as these attendees were able to network and share their ideas and discuss projects at a strategic level with some of Europe’s most influential social change influencers. It also provided attendees with insights into other projects from across Europe that have affected social change at a local and regional level through increased community engagement, empowerment and participation. These attendees will now be able to follow up on these contacts and transfer this learning into their own communities / organisations at a local level. The main conclusions and results from the attendance at the meeting of the ASL partners/stakeholders were that they were all provided with a unique convergence of knowledge sharing, networking and learning into a single package of like-minded people and organisations.