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We are on a mission to stimulate and grow a robust SOCIAL ECONOMY across Devon (and beyond). Find out who are the people behind ESSENCE, which projects they are currently delivering and who are our 'partners-in-mission'.


ESSENCE of Exeter CIC incorporated in March 2018 as a Community Interest Company. Our articles of association can be found through the Companies House website. Below you can see the people responsible for the daily running of ESSENCE.

We would like to thank many people who have been important to bringing ESSENCE to its current shape, amongst others: Jonathan Parsons, Mark Hodgson, Charlotte Burrows, Dawn Eckhart, Sarah Bailey, Ashley Perryman, Richard Burns, Sara Burgess, Lorna Turner and Debbie Stewart.

Paul White (Director)



Paul founded eCulture Solutions in 2010 to deliver digital innovation, change and transformation solutions for social benefit. Paul is passionate about Social Enterprise and through his role with ESSENCE he is keen to leverage his digital knowledge and experience and help organisation maximise value from technology investment and in how this can be utilised to greater benefit of the community being served.

Amerie Rose (Director)



Amerie is the founder and director of PYRAMID-CIRCLE-SQUARE, a social enterprise which has evolved out of 10 years of dramatherapy practice and 25 years in group engagement and facilitation. She has worked in a broad range of settings, including the community and voluntary sector, public health and education. Next to being a Board member, Amerie is project manager for the Enhance Social Enterprise part of ESSENCE’s activities.

Your name? (Director)


We are looking for new Board members to strengthen ESSENCE on the part of its journey. Are you keen to support and represent our growing Network? Are you passionate about Social Enterprise as a future-proof business model and about a social economy in the Exeter area and beyond? Are you interested to work together with the other Board members to achieve our aims? Contact Paul White for an initial conversation.

Daphne van Run (Director)



Having been involved with ESSENCE as a Network Lead since 2017, Daphne joined the Board in February 2021 to support the next level of robustness in ESSENCE’s governance and business model. She is committed to working with members and partners to grow a social economy for Exeter and beyond, with at the heart strong social enterprises that have the support and profile they need and deserve. She is a strong believer in conscious business as an essential vehicle for creating a more sustainable world, and operates as a programme manager, group facilitator and coach through her own platform of dreammeetsreality.


Mobilising Exeter’s Community Enterprising Spirit

Project Lead: Daphne van Run

Time scale: April 2020 – June 2021

As part of Year 2 of the SIMPL project (see below) and after consultation with various stakeholders, we planned in Feb/March 2020 to design a Human Learning System process around: “How do we mobilise an inclusive model of social entrepreneurship across Exeter that enables a more diverse group of people to live self-sustained lives?” After testing the project aims to the new reality of COVID-19, we honed in on an inclusive model of social entrepreneurship in the context of re-building local, resilient communities, post-lockdowns. In order to progress the ideas we designed an online Event Series ‘Mobilising Exeter’s Community Enterprising Spirit’, in which 4 themes relevant to the Exeter area were explored in terms of community enterprising opportunities and innovative, future-proof social business practices. 

Watch the sessions back on our YouTube channel:

Local Food: covering the community enterprising opportunities of local food production and distribution, whilst ensuring better access to locally grown healthy food for a more diverse group of Exeter residents. 

Reclaiming Indoor & Outdoor Spaces as a Community Asset: bringing together people interested in re-using and re-purposing our public spaces to tackle mental ill health, social isolation, climate breakdown whilst creating jobs and tighter communities.

Care in the Community, Post-lockdown: focussing on socially enterprising activity in the Exeter area that is re-imagining care provision rooted in communities. 

Future-Proof Fashion Initiatives from the Grassroots Up: bringing together people interested in tackling the ecological and social issues of the dominant fashion industry (high amount of textile wastes, high carbon emissions due to manufacturing processes and transport, poor makers’ conditions and wages, etc.) whilst creating jobs and tighter communities.

Regenerate Devon

Project Lead: Daphne van Run

Time scale: April 2020 – ……

As part of the SIMPL funding and with support from the the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and through the Postcode Innovation Trust (Sept 2019 – Aug 2020) Torbay Local Spark, Plymouth Social Enterprise Network and ESSENCE joined forces to stimulate the social economy through raising awareness of social enterprise and social investment, through 1-on-1 mentoring, facilitated peer-2-peer learning and business support events and workshops.

In April 2020 the three Social Enterprise Networks came together to envision and showcase what a socially and ecologically resilient Devon could look like. This resulted in 600 people gathering in July 2020 to connect, explore and start designing collaborations around various subthemes. One of the most visible fruits of this gathering is the Devon Doughnut Collective

Year 2 of SIMPL had the 3 Social Enterprise Networks of Torbay, Plymouth and the Exeter area take stock of where their efforts would be best-placed in impacting the shift towards progressive economic policy for the South West. In April 2021 55 representatives from local authorities, academia and social enterprises came together to dive into visions and best practices of economic policy making for a better, fairer and greener South West. 

Do you want to support the next Regenerate Devon Community event? Get in touch!


Watch the session back on our YouTube channel

July 2020 Regenerate Devon Summit:

Day 1 – Visions of a Better Devon 

Day 2 – Showcasing Future Practice 

Day 3 – Ideas into Practice (including Doughnut Economics)

April 2021 Policy Makers’ Summit

Jobs, Health & Equality & Carbon

Devon Recovery Task & Finish Group

Project Lead: Paul White

Time scale: Dec 2020 – Nov 2021

ESSENCE is representing the social enterprise sector as co-chair on the Devon Recovery Task and Finish Group, as well as acting as VCSE Network Capacity & Need Mapping Lead to support delivery.

Paul has been working with the Devon County Council hosted Devon Recovery Group on the development of data intelligence on the Devon VCSE sector and of the opportunity of greater community engagement in recovery delivery.

This work is part of a Task & Finish subgroup of the Devon Recovery Coordination Group and supported with funding from Devon Public Health.  

SIMPL - Social Enterprise Support

Project Lead: Daphne van Run

Time scale: Aug 2018 – June 2021

The Social Investment Market Place Links (SIMPL) project was initiated by Colab Exeter, Torbay Community Development Trust and POP+ in 2018. Originally the project was aimed at expanding the marketplace for social investment, recognising that the opportunity to use this financial tool was being missed by charities and social enterprises across Devon.

As the first year progressed it became clear that whilst expanding the marketplace for social investment should remain a drive, if we were truly focused on social impact, for social investment to be maximised, we had to work out how it could sit alongside other forms of finance, collaboratively. Over the course of that first year the role of ESSENCE, PSEN and Local Spark was heightened and in 2019 we came together as a strong collaborative focused on the common purpose of growing a robust social economy across Devon (and beyond).

Enhance Social Enterprise Network Development Contract

Project Lead: Amerie Rose

Time scale: Sept 2019 – Aug 2020

ESSENCE delivers the Exeter component of the activities for The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. This programme is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

Thanks to this contract we are able to offer free (signposting to) business support. We are particularly excited that it enables us to collaborate more closely with the other regional Social Enterprise Networks.

ESSENCE Partners

ESSENCE Partners

ESSENCE Partners

ESSENCE Partners