Taking Care of Business - The Unusual Suspects Festival

Taking Care of Business - The Unusual Suspects Festival

03 October 2016

The Unusual Suspects Festival, held in Northern Ireland on October 12-14, aims to challenge companies to look at new ways to do business and brings together those that you don’t expect to collaborate to tackle a range of social issues.

Paul Braithwaite of the Building Change Trust, which is bringing this festival of new ideas to Derry/Londonderry and Belfast, says that many multi-national corporations are now embracing the concept of Social Innovation, which is all about solving social problems such as poverty and ill health.

“In Northern Ireland we are seeing the creation of social enterprises and community interest companies that are looking to use profits for the good of society. But this is something that is also being taken up increasingly by big business.

“In our globalised marketplace customers are demanding that companies do business in a more ethical and sustainable way.  People are now more interested in co-operation and collaboration and the Unusual Suspects Festival explores how we can tap into this mood to effect change.”

The Unusual Suspects Festival will bring together a range of local and international experts to explore how to bring about closer collaboration between government, the private sector and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.

On Thursday October 13, Translink will host a talk on the afternoon train from Derry to Belfast on the role of business in increasing inclusion in Northern Ireland.

There will also be a session in Belfast looking at how businesses can develop active and healthy communities, hosted by Business in the Community with the Henderson Group, the Asda Foundation and the NOW Group.

On Friday, October 14, social entrepreneur Roger Warnock will host a session on building a culture of corporate social value in Northern Ireland. Roger formerly worked for Castlereagh Borough Council and was on secondment to the Department of Enterprise where he worked on social innovation strategy. He opened the Thinking Cup Café and Book Reserve on the Lisburn Road which gives job opportunities to young ex-offenders.

The Unusual Suspects Festival has previously taken place in London and Glasgow and Paul Braithwaite says Northern Ireland is the perfect location for this innovation and ideas fest.

“Thinking outside the box and being innovative comes naturally to people in Northern Ireland. The peace process is seen as a model for how to address conflict throughout the world and you only have to look at our burgeoning tech sector and our heritage as leaders in the industrial revolution to see how responsive we are to new and progressive ideas.”

The festival launches at the Holywell Trust in Bishop Street in Derry/Londonderry on October 12 with discussions on innovative approaches to social inclusion.

Other topics include how the environment can contribute to building a national health agenda, value of space in developing communities and building inclusive cities.

All events are free. For more information about the Unusual Suspects Festival visit: http://theunusualsuspectsfestival.com/northern-ireland-2016/