Skip links

Social Enterprises making an impact in Cambridgeshire – Part 2

Allia celebrates Social Enterprises in Cambridgeshire for #SocialSaturday

Cambridgeshire Social Enterprise County launched last November, and with over 300 enterprise now on the county’s register the sector is booming!

Learn more about social enterprises with our series of interviews – here we hear from Rowan about their support for adults with learning disabilities.

What does your social enterprise sell?

Rowan is an Arts Centre run specifically for Adults with Learning Disabilities during the day and the community in the evening and weekends. We also run drama and music classes along with our art classes and charge for these courses.

We produce craftwork and art pieces using the mediums of print, ceramics, mixed media, wood and textiles.

We produce large and small public and private art pieces.

How can members of the public/businesses buy it?

Information on art courses run at Rowan can be found on our website

Rowan sells art pieces at events, exhibitions etc. Our studios are always open and just require a phone call to arrange a visit.

Most of our art income is generated through public and private art commissions.

Why should people try to #buysocial? What impact do your customers make?

You will be empowering a local enterprise, through your purchase, and contributing towards supporting services for the community and people with learning disabilities specifically.

Why did you start your social enterprise/what motivates you and/or your team?

Rowan started in 1984 because of the lack of meaningful activity and services for people with learning disabilities. At the time this group of people were kept in institutions.

Most of our staff are passionate about art and the arts and its ability to transform peoples lived experience. We value people and through excellence we seek to raise expectations and develop their confidence, self esteem, social interaction and creative development.

What does ‘success’ look like for your social enterprise?

People choosing to access our creative workshops and activities and seeing creative and personal development in individuals

What’s been the most difficult thing about running your social enterprise?

The tensions between:

  • The need to generate an income, making it profitable and of a high quality while providing social care and support
  • Low productivity due to disability and the priority to meet/adapt/support the very individual needs of each student.
  • Lack of or limited resources ie. Time, money and staff.
  • Not being able to pay staff what they are worth.

What’s been the most rewarding experience running your social enterprise?

Seeing peoples life experience enhanced and their personal growth in confidence and self esteem.

The growth in friendships, working in an supportive and caring environment and the rapport we have with our students.

The little chuckle we have when we see the pride our students have in the work they have done and the amazement the public express due to their own limited expectations.

Have you got anything planned for Social Saturday?

We don’t have something planned for Social Saturday but are busy preparing for a number of selling, marketing and exhibition events in the next two months as well as fulfilling orders and completing commissions.

Please see our website for details –

You are invited to come to our Winter Warmer social and selling evening on the 6th December for good music and good company.

Want to keep up to date with Cambridgeshire Social Enterprise County news and opportunities? Get in touch at