A Bumper Social Enterprise Christmas!

Great progress with my Social Enterprise Christmas Shopping in the last few days!  Too many fantastic gifts for me to write about individually, so here are some highlights.

In a recycled delivery box from the Eden Project’s online shop (http://www.edenproject.com/shop/default.aspx): champagne, scented candles, games for my nieces and nephews and a cute elephant jigsaw for my baby son.    The Eden Project works around the world to bring about environmental, social and economic regeneration.  In the UK its beautiful gardens inspire people of all ages and all walks of life to learn about nature and get involved.

Eden Project Elephant JigsawDartington, a historical hall in Devon, is a place of learning about some of the significant issues of our time.   Each year over 500 change makers, including social entrepreneurs, participate in the learning programme, enabling them to develop ways of creating a more sustainable world.   From Dartington’s online shop (http://www.dartington.org/online-shop/shop) I bought Cowshed products and various sweet and savory treats.

On Saturday morning my family and I visited Borough Market in London.   We soon spotted Rubies in the Rubble, the brilliant award-winning social enterprise that uses ingredients that would otherwise be discarded and employs Londoners struggling to find work to create its delicious chutney products.  Served by an infectiously cheerful man with a huge smile, we bought chutney gift bags; in which we selected 3 chutneys such as Nutty Plum and Red Onion & Chili.   You can find Rubies in the Rubble chutneys in many locations: http://www.rubiesintherubble.com/where-to-find-us/

So, I’m nearly finished!  I’ve managed to #BuySocial for nearly all my presents!  But there is still one thing I need… picture frames for photos…. If anyone knows where I can buy them – from a social enterprise – please do contact me at @frombabies on twitter. Perhaps it’s not possible at the moment… in which case… social entrepreneurs… there’s a gilt-edged (or perhaps silver framed!) gap in the market!

Happy Christmas Baby Sandrine!

We’re very excited to share news of a new baby we’re supporting, Sandrine, in Burkina Faso.

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Burkina Faso is an extremely poor country; at 53 years life expectancy is very low.  770,000 children in Burkina Faso are growing up without parental care, thousands being orphaned by AIDS. HIV & AIDS exacerbates child labour – as households lose adult members, family income declines so children have to contribute financially.  This in turn impacts education, only a quarter of the population knows how to read and write.

Creating change in this overwhelming context, SOS Children has been working in Burkina Faso since the 1990s.  In March 2012 Sandrine moved in to the SOS Children’s village in Dafra, a suburb of Burkina Faso’s second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, where 12 SOS families provide a loving home for around 120 children.

The children attend the SOS nursery school together with children from the neighbourhood, ensuring they are integrated in to the local community.  They go on to complete their education at the SOS primary and secondary school, which is attended by 900 children, making it an important educational institution in the region. The village has a social centre that provides health services, counseling and care for families affected by HIV/AIDS.

Sandrine’s SOS Mother has written to tell us a little about her: she’s a lively girl, very curious and eager to explore.  Sandrine has elder SOS siblings, whom she is very observant of so she can imitate what they do.  They say that you rarely see Sandrine walk as she prefers to run all the time!

This time of year feels extra special to meet Sandrine and know that we are helping her SOS Mother, and the whole SOS Children team, give her a fair start in life.   Wishing you a very happy Christmas little Sandrine!

How will I leave these under the tree?! #BuySocial luxury from Rococo Chocolates

It’s a wonderful thing that fairtrade chocolate is well known and widely available.  My favourite chocolate company with social and environmental aims is Rococo Chocolates.   A delicious treat, much of their cocoa is organic, and the story of their “Grococo” chocolate is perfect for my #BuySocial Christmas Challenge.

Rococo has a joint venture with the Grenada Chocolate Company, a small, solar-powered tree-to-bar maker.   When Hurricane Emily devastated Grenada’s cocoa crop in 2005; Rococo made a special edition bar in aid of the Grenada Relief Fund.   Now they work together to produce fairly traded, ethical chocolate on the Grococo farm.    The farm is one of the founding farms of The Grenada Organic Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative.

Rococo sells exquisite chocolates, beautifully presented in boxes, bars and often in quirky shapes and designs.  I choose a selection of their bars (Crystallised Ginger, Earl Grey Tea and Orange & Geranium) and a box of butter fudge as gifts for family members.  The real challenge will be leaving them untouched under the tree!

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Check out Rococo’s scrumptious selection at http://www.rococochocolates.com/

Table mats made from fire hoses?! Hot stuff! The latest purchase for my #BuySocial Xmas Challenge

Made by inspiring social enterprise Elvis & Kresse, the latest purchase for my Social Enterprise Christmas Shopping Challenge is a set of six tablemats and coasters.  Like many of Elvis & Kresse’s products the set is made from de-commissioned British fire brigade hoses.

Elvis & Kresse scrub away all the soot and grease that builds up after the hoses have been used for about 25 years.  At the end of life as a hose, instead of being sent to landfill, the otherwise waste material is turned in to beautiful accessories such as handbags, belts, laptop covers and tablewear.  And in addition to reducing waste, Elvis & Kresse donate 50% of profit to charities relating to the waste they collect, such as the Fire Fighters charity.

The wrapping (also entirely reclaimed) is so stylish I couldn’t bear to unwrap my table mats to take a picture, so here’s the one from the Elvis & Kresse website:

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I’m a huge fan of this social enterprise because it couples fantastic environmental and social benefits.   So yes, I am saving up for a handbag!

Check out the Elvis & Kresse shop at: http://www.elvisandkresse.com/index.html

#BuySocial Xmas shopping at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen

On Monday night some of the from babies with love volunteers and I ate at the wonderful social enterprise, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.

As soon as you walk in the door you see the chefs at work in the open style kitchen and feel the buzzing atmosphere.  We began with a delicious sharing board of antipasti and enjoyed main courses such as gnocchi with artichokes and prosciutto and “frutti di mare” risotto.   Scrumptious stuff!

Now celebrating 10 years, 109 apprentices have graduated from the Fifteen programme, which aims to empower young people and give them skills to change their lives.   Many of the apprentices have had difficult backgrounds, are struggling to find work and have left mainstream education.  Whilst gaining a professional chef qualification, they complete work experience in one of the Fifteen restaurants, and the majority of apprentices go on to secure professional jobs.

As well as thanking our volunteers for their amazing work, and enjoying the delicious food, I visited Fifteen to buy my first Christmas present, as part of my social enterprise Christmas challenge.   This year I’m buying all my presents from social enterprises; if I can buy gorgeous products from businesses that have social aims, not only am I going to give great gifts, I’m going to feel great knowing that I’m helping amazing people create social benefits.

Fifteen was a brilliant place to start!   The Fifteen shop sells a range of gifts such as food, t-shirts and cookbooks.   I chose the irresistible “Big Box of Love”.   Beautifully presented in a cool wooden box, it’s for an aunt and uncle, who love all things delicious.   Inside they’ll find prosceco, olive oil and balsamic vinegar amongst other treats.   And best of all, the box design includes some quick snippets of information about the apprentice programme, so my aunt and uncle will enjoy their goodies and enjoy knowing how the apprentices will benefit.

Fifteen Big Box of Love

Needless to say I highly recommend!  Congratulations to all the apprentices and Fifteen team; we had a wonderful evening and the opportunities you provide to #BuySocial are fantastic!   Check out the Fifteen shop for some fantastic xmas presents: http://www.fifteenshop.net/engine/shop/index.html