The lead up to Christmas this year is set to be remarkably unsocial, with lockdown restrictions extending until at least December 2nd. This disruption is difficult for everyone, but it will be more difficult for some for many those who are already facing the worst consequences of recession, and those who struggle with loneliness, and mental and physical health.
This important reminder is not entirely unseasonal. Christmas, in addition to being a festive occasion, has always also been a time for redressing inequity. For this reason, social enterprises have often stepped up to connect these two aspects, enabling the generosity of gift-giving to extend to those in need. These same organisations have been at the frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting their communities in a variety of ways. This being the case, the value of buying from social enterprises, and of including them within supply chains, has never been clearer. There are numerous social enterprises whose products represent exceptional gift options, and who also repurpose their business models and profits to uplift others. By deciding to buy your Christmas presents from these unique organisations, you can help support some fantastic projects whilst also getting great gifts for your friends and family. And even better, if you’re in a position to help incorporate social enterprises into the supply chain of your business or employer, you can expand your impact further still. To get you started, here are just a few social enterprises who should be topping your Christmas shopping list in 2020:
This specialist London-based tea company does more than provide award-winning, whole-leaf blends. NEMI’s entire business model is centred around up-skilling refugees, by providing work experience and helping them prepare for entry into the UK workforce. During a period of renewed prejudice against refugees and migrants, and during a pandemic which has left them more isolated than ever, NEMI’s work has taken on a new importance. By choosing to buy from its range, which includes organic loose-leafs, teabags, and chai syrups, you would be helping the most vulnerable in our society. Moreover, NEMI has also placed a special emphasis on the climate: all teabags are plastic-free, and all packaging is biodegradable, so you can help to protect the planet by enjoying a unique cuppa.
You’ve probably seen their iconic carts in cities around the country. Change Please is a speciality, award-winning coffee company, devoted as much to its social mission as to providing exceptional coffee. Through its carts, outlets, and online shop, Change Please offers barista made coffee, café snacks, and a variety of blends—whole bean and ground—to take home. 100% of company profits go towards ending homeless, which it tackles in a number of ways. Most notably, Change Please trains homeless people to become baristas at its state-of-the-art Training Academy in London. They then begin their new barista roles, supported by a mentor. All employees are paid at least the London Living Wage, and continue to be supported with housing, personal finance, therapy support, and onward employment. This highly focused mission has made an enormous impact, and as a result of the success of the coffee business, the team now work with major partners, nationally and internationally, with the goal of ending homelessness. To switch to buying with Change Please is to treat yourself to some of the best coffee on the market, whilst also helping those people who face winter without a stable place to live.
This gourmet food and catering company is similar to Change Please in that it has two clear priorities: exceptional product quality, and a mission to fight homelessness. Whilst Fat Macy’s operates in a number of ways—catering services, supper clubs, an online shop—they have most recently unveiled an unmissable range of ‘Festive Offerings’. From a range of carefully selected hampers, to individual items such as Biscotti, Jewelled Mince Pies, and Nougat, this list promises a table full of delicious, high-quality, handmade foods made specially for Christmas. But beyond exceptional food, Fat Macy’s is also characterised by a profound social mission. The organisation runs via a tailored work experience programme for young Londoners living in temporary housing. It provides them with training, mentoring, support, expenses, and ultimately, a housing deposit grant. This programme reaches out to young people in the most difficult circumstances, and offers them a new set of opportunities. In other words, by buying your festive treats from Fat Macy’s this year, you could be helping to improve someone else’s Christmases for years to come.
RAW has a reputation for chic, designer furniture, for indoors and outdoors. Its artisanal workshops use materials which are recycled, reclaimed, or otherwise sustainably sourced, and its this emphasis on quality, design, and sustainability which distinguishes it as a perfect option for this seasons’ furnishings and fixtures. But beyond this, RAW is also unique in its approach to its workforce. The team deliberately recruits people who are marginalised from the mainstream workforce: those who are facing mental health challenges, addiction issues, homelessness; and those with criminal records, abusive childhood experiences, and refugee backgrounds. This has provided an essential haven for those who would otherwise be struggling for options, and offers customers a chance to let their money do good, in exchange for excellent products.
Each of these examples are a showcase for the dual power of social enterprise; the capacity to provide market leading products, whilst also working for those who most need support in our society. This Christmas, we urge you to choose quality and compassion, and to buy social. As mentioned, the most impact can be made by bringing these amazing organisations into wider supply chains. Christmas shopping lists are essential, but bigger orders make the biggest difference. If you have an idea about how to do this, then get in touch with Supply Change, and we can consult with you about how to use your purchasing power this Christmas season to make a lasting social impact.