By Daniel Hunter

Claire Dove MBE, leading social entrepreneur and CEO of award-winning social enterprise Blackburne House, has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

The honour recognises her work with Blackburne House to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and Black people in the Merseyside area, her role in Liverpool’s recovery and regeneration since the city’s riots in 1981, and her commitment to growing the social enterprise sector across the UK and internationally.

Under Claire’s leadership, Blackburne House — one of the most successful women’s organisations and social enterprises in the UK — has quickly grown and extended its reach into some of Liverpool’s most disadvantaged areas, now helping more than 1000 people each year gain employment skills and training to help them find long-term work.

The annual Regeneration and Renewal Survey cited Claire as an exemplary leader and one of the most admired people in regeneration. Last year she chaired Liverpool’s Fairness Commission, which is already changing the way the public and private sectors work together in the City.

Claire also champions the social enterprise sector in her role as chair of Social Enterprise UK — the national body for social enterprise. Her political and campaigns work - including her support for the Social Value Act, which became law in January 2013 - has contributed to the rise of the sector, which is now more than 68,000-businesses-strong in the UK. Social enterprises are now outstripping mainstream small and medium sized businesses for growth.

Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK, said: “Claire is one of the most spirited champions of social enterprise the UK has ever had. Over three decades, her drive and tenacity has led the UK’s social enterprise movement to bold new heights. Thanks to her efforts, social enterprise has heavy political and public support, and is now widely recognised as an answer to the mass of economic and social problems we face.

“As well as working at a national level, she remains rooted in her community in Liverpool, bringing the spirit and value of social enterprise to her local area. Claire has made a huge contribution to the transformation of the city since the riots in the early 80s. Claire is a wonderful ambassador for social enterprise and truly deserves this award.”

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said: “Claire has given thirty years of her life to the social enterprise cause in Liverpool. During that time she has grown to be seen as not only a great ambassador for the social enterprise model, but as someone whose innovation and ambition has raised standards right across the sector. Through her work at Blackburne House, Claire has touched the lives of literally thousands of disadvantaged people.

"She has helped turn their lives around, and has given them opportunities that they simply wouldn’t have had were it not for her dedication, and her vision of a fair and equal society. She is continuing to work closely with me to promote fairness in Liverpool and beyond, she is seen as a role model, and countless people have told me what an inspiration she has been in their lives. I want to pay tribute to her for the devotion she has shown.”

David Adair, Head of Community Affairs, PwC, who has worked closely with Claire to help grow the social enterprise sector, said: “Claire has been one of the leading instigators establishing social enterprise as a sector in the UK and lobbying around the important role that social enterprises can play in public sector delivery.

“She is a fantastic role model, particularly for black and minority ethnic (BME) social entrepreneurs and a great ambassador for social enterprise both in the UK and on the world stage, showing that the UK leads the world in this space.”

Liz Cross, Chair of Blackburne House Group, who has worked with Claire for over 20 years said: "This award comes at a special time for Claire and the Blackburne House Group — celebrating, as we are, 30 years as a thriving community based education and social enterprise group. Claire’s vision, tenacity and drive to get people on board illustrates what it takes to grow an idea to address exclusion and social injustice into an inclusive and successful social business."

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