A SANDWELL social enterprise expert has been recognised at one of the sector’s biggest regional competitions.

Geoff Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Sandwell Community Caring Trust, beat off strong competition to secure the SE Aspire Award after impressing judges with the way he has helped secure a £4.2m funding package to build new care home facilities locally.

He was also praised for this long-term commitment to the sector and for showing how social value can deliver large-scale services differently and better.

Geoff was joined by two other winners from the Black Country: • SE Planet: REPC for their work in the safe disposal and recycling of unwanted IT equipment and furniture • SE Potential: Mindful Gifts for developing a range of gifts and activities for dementia sufferers Geoff said: “I’m delighted to be recognised at the SE Awards, not least because it means we have achieved some of our objectives and started to make a real difference to people in Sandwell.

“This is just the start of an ongoing journey and we have plenty of innovative ideas we intend to put into place over the next twelve to eighteen months.”

Melanie Mills, Chief Executive of SEWM, said: “Our sector is experiencing significant growth and is increasingly being viewed as an important economic driver. It is only right that we recognise the organisations, enterprises and individuals that are making it happen.

“More than 150 people attended the awards evening held at the University of Birmingham, who kindly gave us the venue to host the event. They listened to stories of expansion, innovation, passion, community spirit, employee development and outstanding business performance from our twelve winners.”

She added: “Leaders like Geoff Walker will hopefully inspire others to embrace the social movement. People are sitting up and taking notice of the sector and that can only be good news.”

Social Enterprise West Midlands is a business network and consultancy for social enterprise in the region.

The membership-led organisation offers access to expert consultancy, advice and guidance, as well as a series of event and workshops designed to educate, inform and promote a sector that is worth more than £35m locally.

It also offers event management support and was instrumental - with its parent company The Aspire Group - in the launch of www.buysocialdirectory.org.uk, the UK’s first social business directory.

For further information, people can visit www.socialenterprisewm.org or follow @_sewm on Twitter.