Social entrepreneur steps down from Community Shop

Sarah Dunwell, the social entrepreneur, Picture by Chris Lawton 22 Sept  2011

Sarah Dunwell, the social entrepreneur, Picture by Chris Lawton 22 Sept 2011

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THE YORKSHIRE-based social entrepreneur Sarah Dunwell, who was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the UK’s first “social supermarket”, is moving on to explore new opportunities.

The Community Shop scheme, which has been led by Ms Dunwell, offers affordable food products to people living in a specific postcode and in receipt of welfare support. They are eligible for discounts of up to 70 per cent on surplus goods.

The scheme has secured backing from some of the UK’s largest retailers and manufacturers, including Asda and Morrisons. The pilot store was opened in Goldthorpe, the former mining village in South Yorkshire, in 2013. Community Shop is a subsidiary of Company Shop, the UK’s largest commercial redistributor of surplus food and goods.

Ms Dunwell said: “I have loved working with Company Shop and Community Shop as it rolls out this innovative model nationwide and I’m delighted that the principles and strategy we developed are now well established. It is so rewarding to see a growing commercial business putting social considerations at the heart of every decision it makes. I have seen over the past two years that, by valuing purpose as much as profit, the private sector can be the most efficient engine for social change. I’m now ready to support more organisations to drive that cultural shift across the country and Community Shop is a powerful example of how transformative it can be.”

Ms Dunwell is the former chief executive of pioneering Leeds social enterprise Create. Ms Dunwell’s work at Create won praise from many quarters, not least Prime Minister David Cameron, but the catering firm ran into difficulties after a financial backer withdrew support. It was sold in 2013.

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