"I don't think I've ever been more surprised" - Breathe

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised”

Thu 9 Dec 2021

Breathe Arts Health Research Founder and Managing Director takes home the Women in Social Enterprise Award 2021.

The national Awards, organised by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) recognises excellence and outstanding achievements by social enterprises, businesses set up to for a social or environmental purpose that reinvest or donate the majority of their profits to meet their mission. From tackling the climate emergency to reducing homelessness, social enterprises are taking on some of the biggest challenges we face, using trade to change lives and protect the planet. They have also been at the heart of community responses to the pandemic, providing essential services from food deliveries to health care with many pivoting their models to keep on supporting the people they are set up to help.

There are 100,000 Social Enterprises in the UK contributing £60 billion to the economy and employing two million people.  Facing fierce competition from a list of incredibly inspiring finalists, we could not be more proud of Yvonne for winning in this category.

Judge’s comments: A really strong category, choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. Yvonne’s work at Breathe has shown resilience, tenacity and a commitment to female leadership.

To be awarded the Women in Social Enterprise prize is an incredible achievement for Yvonne. It is the first award Yvonne has received which is solely focused on her as opposed to Breathe or specific programmes that she has initiated.

As Managing Director of Breathe, my role often takes place in the background - supporting the team, negotiating opportunities, liaising with the Board. It means so much to me to be recognised for my individual contribution. I am totally blown away!
Yvonne Farquharson, Founder and Managing Director of Breathe Arts Health Research

Since founding Breathe, Yvonne has led through adversity, when others questioned her role as a woman in leadership, her vision, and innovative ways of working, this didn’t deter her. Yvonne continued her pioneering work to improve individual health outcomes and sector-wide transformation. This includes leading Breathe to being named as a ‘New Radical’ by Nesta, winning NHS England’s ‘Innovation Challenge’ Award and Action for Children’s Arts ‘Outstanding Contribution’ award.

The award from Social Enterprise UK is testament to her commitment to arts and health and the astounding impact she has on the team here at Breathe and our wider network of freelancers and programme participants.

To receive this recognition from the Social Enterprise sector – the sector that inspires me the most – means more to me than I can explain. This sector is full of resilient, strong and determined pioneers who are not just changing the future of business but improving the future for the whole of society and providing voices and opportunities for so many in need. To be awarded this prestigious prize in this world, feels like the biggest win possible for me on both a personal and professional level. A career and life highlight.

The annual celebration of British social enterprises was hosted by comedian, writer, and actress Suzi Ruffell at the spectacular Great Hall in London’s Guildhall. Yvonne was accompanied by Breathe’s all-female senior management team at this year’s unforgettable event.  Yvonne is excited by the potential that winning this award offers to reach more women and inspire them through her achievements.

In what has been an incredibly challenging year social enterprises have given us a real sense of hope. They’ve shown us what it means to put people and communities first, showing real resilience and strength without compromising on their values, integrity and impact. From taking on the injustices in the food system and using technology to support people experiencing homelessness to being on the frontline of supporting communities through the pandemic - this year’s winners represent not just the best of business but the future of business.
Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK

The Women in Social Enterprise Award is sponsored by Social Partnerships Portal.

Photos and more information about this years winners are available here.

For more information, please contact:

Lucy Fox at Breathe Arts Health Research: lucy@breatheahr.org | 07309636928

Shehan Perera at Social Enterprise UK: shehan.perera@socialenterprise.org.uk | 07910222409