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Buy Social Toolkit Launched

By Social Toolkit Launch

It's gotten that bit easier to #buysocial thanks to the launch of a new easy-to-follow guide for organisations thinking of doing business with a social enterprise.

The ‘Buy Social’ Toolkit – developed by the Strategic Investment Board – was officially launched by the Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann at Titanic this week and is a practical guide on how organisations with procurement responsibilities can help generate benefits to society and the local economy through their contracts.

The Toolkit also provides a guide to local legislative framework and gives a step by step approach to achieving tangible local benefits through targeted recruitment and training, as well as outlining examples of successful case studies.

Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of Gauge NI's parent social enterprise NOW Group, Northern Ireland Social Enterprise of the Year, was one of the main speakers at the launch and praised the ‘Buy Social’ Toolkit.  NOW Group’s social enterprise business Loaf Catering helps to fly the flag locally for the #buysocial movement and recently tendered successfully to manage The Bobbin coffee shop in Belfast City Hall.

Talking about the tender success, Maeve said: “It's all about jobs for us. The more business we have the more jobs we can offer to local people with learning disabilities. If we are serious about tackling child poverty and unemployment, we have to look at collaborative solutions through procurement.  It’s not all about construction either; it's the opportunities that exist right along the supply chain. We need to focus on outcomes, monitor the difference we make and communicate it.”

Speaking at the launch, Minister Bell said the ‘Buy Social’ Toolkit would “deliver real benefits to communities and will help shape the future of our public services sector by encouraging communities to engage in the procurement process”.

“The Buy Social toolkit demonstrates how public sector organisations can achieve both value for money and social benefits through early and effective inclusion of social considerations in project development,” said Minister Bell.

“Northern Ireland is in the process of rebuilding and rebalancing our economy. The improvements brought about by the introduction of this toolkit will help encourage jobs and investment and deliver a modern, dynamic and confident society.  I encourage everyone to work together to challenge how public contracts are bought and awarded and consider what can be achieved to tackle poverty and disadvantage by supporting this Social Clauses toolkit.”

Junior Minister McCann added: “This Toolkit is a valuable resource which will guide purchasers and suppliers through building social clauses into contracts and help tackle the challenges of unemployment and deprivation.

“Our social objectives are more important than ever in the current economic conditions and it is vital that we deliver the maximum possible benefit from all public investment. The inclusion of social clauses in contracts requires purchasers and suppliers to protect the vulnerable, support the disadvantaged, develop the social economy, protect the environment and promote and benefit the local community.

“We must take action and challenge the way we currently buy and award public contracts and give more weight to the social impact of public investment. I urge all Government Departments, Arms Length Bodies and District Councils to do everything they can to support this initiative.”

Gerry McGinn, Chair of SIB said: “This toolkit will assist practitioners and policy and decision makers in the public sector to deliver more social value to our communities through their public contracts; and to imbed the inclusion of social considerations into the earliest possible stage of project development. It is an important tool that builds on the progress the public sector has already made in this field – but there remains more to be done if we are to fully realise the buying power of public sector spend.”

To download the ‘Buy Social Toolkit, visit

PICTURE CAPTION: (L-R) Pictured at the launch of the ‘Buy Social’ Toolkit at the Titanic Building is Brendan Flynn from G4S, Stuart Cairns from Pinsent Masons, Maeve Monaghan from NOW Group, Jennifer Morgan from the Department of Environment and  Richard MacFarlane, Consultant.

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