How North East Social Enterprise Festival 2015 Dragons’ Den helped Birkheads wild

Birkheads wild CICIn celebration of the North East Social Enterprise Festival tomorrow I thought I would share with you a letter we received from last year’s winner, Fiona O’Connor director of Birkheads Wild.

Come along to Sage, Gateshead tomorrow to hear other inspirational stories, support our local social enterprises and most of all enjoy a full day of live music and entertainment.

For more information click here


Dear ‘Dragons’


On the eve of the 2016 Social Enterprise Festival I wanted to send you an overview of what we’ve been up to over the past 12 months, and to let you know exactly how your support for our idea last year has enabled us to really move our project forward towards getting Birkheads Wild trading.


We decided to split the prize money between “boring essentials” required for set up, equipment and to help fund at least 1 further camp. Your support helped us to:

·         obtain enhanced DBS certificates for 3 years

·         pay for planning and licensing related fees – to Gateshead Council

·         pay for a proportion of our first year of Public Liability Insurance


We spent several long months trying to get the relevant permissions we needed from the Council and, after revising the scale of our camp site down, we finally obtained a 28 day Camping Licence (for 28 overnight stays spread over a year). This meant that by May 2016 we could finally look at setting up the site….but we still had a long way to go….


Your support also helped us to:

·         buy and set up a parachute covered bushcraft camp fire area on site

·         buy equipment needed for camps and sessions

·         pay for a proportion of Directors training


Our second big milestone this year came in July when we obtained a grant to buy a beautiful composting toilet – which has now been fabricated, delivered to us and should be fully installed on site by end Nov 2016 (we have a very big hole to dig!). Using a chemical portaloo was both financially and environmentally unsustainable and it had prevented us from being able to trade effectively so we are very excited about this development. In the last 12 months we have also:

·         opened a bank account!

·         gained 2 more Directors

·         set up a Facebook page and Twitter account

·         undertaken training, development and lots of further research


Finally in September we managed to host another camp just before the end of the season – a group of teenagers undertaking their Bronze DofE expedition who had a fantastic time in rural Gateshead/County Durham and who loved camping with us.


We are now at a tipping point where Birkheads Wild is moving from being a “hobby” to a functioning business – I am transitioning into freelance work next month so that I can give more of my time on a voluntary basis to having the CIC fully trading by early spring 2017.


Our next steps include; a Crowd Funding Campaign, setting up a website, exploring many options to host different groups on/around the site and testing these out, completing our training – Alison with a Bushcraft Diploma and me as a Guided Walk Leader and being fully ready to welcome visitors as soon as it is warm enough!


We have a stand at the Social Enterprise Festival at Sage tomorrow where we have low/no cost woodland activities for younger kids and a Minecraft vs Bushcraft  hands-on session – learn the 5 C s of Survival – and help make your own Paracord survival bracelet for the older kids. We’ll also be taking booking enquiries for 2017. Please come and say Hi if you are there. We can also help persuade other people with a social enterprise idea to go for it, and give help and advice on facing this year’s Dragons!


I just wanted to say thanks again for believing in our idea – we believe in it too and it’s finally, slowly becoming a reality!


I hope to be able to welcome you on site soon but in the meantime please see our Facebook page Birkheads Wild or find us on Twitter @birkheads_wild

Disco Snowdog goes for a night on the toon

North East Social Enterprise Festival and Disco Snowdog to enjoy the lighting of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in Festival Colours

Disco Snow Dog came out last night from Sage Gateshead to join us for the lighting of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge to let everyone know about the North East Social Enterprise Festival at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 29th October from 10.30am to 3.30pm. A great day out for all the family and an opportunity to watch social enterprise performances, taste social enterprise food and buy social enterprise products.

Disco Dog

Disco Great North Snowdog

Celebrate the lighting of Gateshead Millennium Bridge in the colours of the North East Social Enterprise Festival at 7pm on Tuesday October 25th as Disco Dog, Sage Gateshead’s Great North Snowdog, pops out from the music venue to join the Festival organisers for a night on the toon.

The North East Social Enterprise Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead on Saturday October 29th from 10.30am to 3.30pm.  In advance of the Festival, Disco Dog, who has been hanging around with a litter of little friends at Sage Gateshead, will make a brief detour from his #GreatNorthSnowdogs trail to take in the sights on Gateshead Millennium Bridge from 7pm to 7.30pm on the evening of Tuesday 25th October.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge will be lit in the North East Social Enterprise Festival colours and Festival organisers will be on hand to provide more information about the event.  Over 40 regional social enterprises will be exhibiting at Sage Gateshead on Saturday October 29th, showcasing a fantastic array of creative ways to combat social problems – puppets, dancers, drummers, artists, Ukulele players, singers, bakers and many more.   Come along to the Festival and support our local social enterprises because when they profit, our community profits too.

Jane Hogan, Great North Snowdogs Project Lead and St Oswald’s hospice Development Manager, said:

“We’re thrilled that one of St Oswald’s Hospice’s Great North Snowdogs is part of this wonderful event for the region.  St Oswald’s only exists because of the generosity, commitment and passion of the North East community so it’s very fitting that one of our Snowdogs is attending this exciting event.  Great North Snowdogs has captured the hearts and minds of our region, and has brought people together.  It is inspiring and we’d like to thank everyone for their kind support.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director Sage Gateshead, commented:

“As a social enterprise dedicated to entertaining, involving and inspiring the region through engagement with music and creative events, Sage Gateshead is delighted to be hosting the 2nd North East Social Enterprise Festival”.

The North East Social Enterprise Festival would like to thank St Oswald’s Hospice for enabling us to work with one of their Great North Snowdogs, Gateshead Council for making the event happen, Sage Gateshead for permission to move Disco Dog and to Councillor John Adams for the gift of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge lighting.

Notes to editors.

  1. For more information about the event and the Festival, contact Kate Welch on 07809 330 102 or
  2. Follow us on twitter @nesocentfest

North East Social Enterprise Festival Dragons’ Den

Dragons DenApply for Dragons’ Den

Saturday October 29th 2016 Sage Gateshead
Dragons’ Den Competition on the Main Stage  11am-12noon

Are you an early stage Social Enterprise – operating for less than 2 years?

Are you 16 years or over and living in the UK?

Does your idea have real social impact?


If your answer to these three questions is yes, then why don’t you apply to pitch to our friendly Dragons at the North East Social Enterprise Festival?

There are prizes for the best pitches – our Dragons will decide who they are.

To register for the competition click here.

You will need to register by creating a Log-in.  You will then need to select “Unltd’sTry it Awards” where the current campaign is the “North East Social Enterprise Festival”.

The closing date for entries is 6pm on Tuesday October 25th. We will then shortlist and let you know if you have secured one of the six spaces for the Dragons’ Den competition. We look forward to hearing from you. 

North East Social Enterprise Festival 2016

North East Social Enterprise FestivalThe Sage Gateshead will host the second North East Social Enterprise Festival on Saturday October 29th.

Although the majority of Social Entrepreneurs operate and trade for the benefit of communities in the North East (so when they profit, our society profits) there are many internationally known brands operating for global good and we look forward to welcoming them to the North East.

The North East Social Enterprise Festival will be a celebration of social enterprise in the North East and an opportunity for resident to support the sector. By supporting social enterprises you are supporting local communities as when social enterprises profit, our society profits too. For more information click here.