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: Mark Hodgson, Charlotte Burrows, Dawn Eckhart, Sarah Bailey, Ashley Perryman, Richard Burns, Sara Burgess, Lorna Turner and Debbie Stewart.

Daphne van Run



Daphne takes care of the daily operations of ESSENCE and reports to the Board of Directors. She is a strong believer in business as an essential vehicle for creating a more sustainable world. In her role as Network Lead, Daphne utilises her programme and change management experience mixed in with her passion for societal change.

Jonathan Parsons (Chair)



As well as chair for ESSENCE, Jonathan is managing director of Chime, an NHS Audiology Service that in 2011 became a not-for-profit Social Enterprise offering adult and children’s audiology services, free at the point of delivery on behalf of NHS Devon, in Exeter and Mid & East Devon.

Ruth Dale (Director)



Ruth is founder and Director of Social Insight Ltd. With over a decade of experience of using behaviour change marketing, she works with communicators and change-makers to make positive changes in their communities in Devon and across the UK. Ruth is a passionate advocate of Social Enterprise as she believes they have the power to bring communities together and the potential to regenerate and transform the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities.

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.


SIMPL – Social Enterprise Support

Project Lead: Daphne van Run

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).

SIMPL – Social Enterprise Support

Project Lead: Daphne van Run

ESSENCE is together with the Social Enterprise Networks of Plymouth (PSEN) and Torbay (Local Spark) supported by the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and awarded through the Postcode Innovation Trust. Their support enables the three Social Enterprise Networks 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.

This funding is part of the SIMPL project.

Enhance Social Enterprise Network Development Contract

Project Lead: Amerie Rose

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