Gateshead College students show enterprise to win national award

Students and staff from Gateshead College have won the Social Enterprise of the Year Award presented by the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE).

The prize was given to the college’s enterprise society Northern Stars at NACUE’s annual Society Awards Dinner at Westminster Kingsway College in London for its ground-breaking ‘Turnip and go’ retail project.

The awards are given to individuals and organisations which have helped students to demonstrate high levels of enterprise and entrepreneurialism in their work. Northern Stars was described in nominations as “professional, committed, tenacious and the epitome of what an enterprise society should be”.

The idea behind ‘Turnip and go’ is to sell locally-sourced fresh fruit and vegetables to college staff and students from a dedicated ‘market stall’ set up within the college’s Baltic Campus on Quarryfield Road.

The retail project was initially set-up in 2013 to run alongside the New Start Level 1 ‘Undertaking an Enterprise Project’ before being developed further by Northern Stars into an enterprise featuring new ideas for promoting healthier eating and boosting sales.

The business donates 10% of its profits to the Gateshead College Foundation, an independent charity that helps people develop the skills they need to secure meaningful employment.

The judge praised the project, highlighting the fact that the students not only gained a qualification but real business experience and knowledge of corporate responsibility by promoting healthy eating.

Will Bywater, head of further education at NACUE, said: “The awards recognise people who have gone above and beyond in promoting student-led enterprise, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Everyone involved has been a real pleasure to work with this year and we can’t wait to see what next year brings.”

Roy Thompson, president of Northern Stars, said: “Congratulations to the ‘Turnip and go’ team on a fantastic award and achievement. All involved has worked hard to make a significant impact in the college within a short space of time.

“The enterprise society is part of our wider strategy at Gateshead College to give our students the best chance of success in the jobs market, developing their skills and confidence so they can launch their own ventures or gain skilled employment within an established business.”

Gateshead College is a founder of the Gazelle Colleges Group, which is leading the initiative to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinkers who can add value to communities, bring innovation to existing businesses and who can create their own employment with confidence and ambition.