SHOPPERS are being urged to use their buying power to make a difference this week.

Activities, promotions and discounts are taking place all over the county in the lead-up to Social Saturday on October 15.

The campaign aims to highlight Oxfordshire’s social enterprises, which trade like businesses but plough back profits into good causes.

They include Blackbird Leys-based RAW which makes wooden products, collects waste wood and sells reclaimed timber.

Profits provide employment, training and volunteering opportunities to people with learning disabilities, mental health problems or those from a disadvantaged background.

It is offering customers 10 per cent off products from its reclaimed wood shop today, tomorrow and Saturday.

Managing director Rick Mower said: “We all buy products and services, so why not opt for those which actually change lives?

“It’s not about being a charity, this is a real alternative.”

He added: “Why would you bring in stuff from China that you can buy here in Oxford?”

Other offers include a buy-one-get-one-free deal on coffee at Yellow Submarine’s cafes in Park End Street and Witney.

Cowley Road’s Refresh cafe, run by volunteers and offering work experience for those in recovery, is offering a free hot drink to anyone buying a panini or baguette.

The Oxfordshire Social Entrepreneurship Partnership, launched by Oxford and Brookes Universities, lists 75 social enterprises in the county.

These include Oxford-based Aspire, which gives long-term unemployed people work placements in grounds maintenance or furniture upcycling.

Others include fresh fruit and vegetable supplier Cultivate, Oxford Wood Recycling, bicycle repair workshop Broken Spoke, the Turl Street Kitchen restaurant, StyleAcre in Wallingford, Witney-based employment enterprise Synolos and Bicester Green furniture recycling operation.

On Saturday, Wantage MP Ed Vaizey will visit StyleAcre’s tea rooms in Blewbury, Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds will be at Aspire and Witney MP Robert Courts will officially open Synolos’s new offices.

Social Saturday, backed by Oxfordshire LEP and Oxford City Council, is part of a national campaign.

Social enterprise expert Grant Hayward, who runs Collaborant which connects business with charities, said: “Oxfordshire is a hotbed for social enterprise.

“These events, activities and promotions demonstrate more than ever before the tremendous impact these wonderful social enterprises have in our local communities and environment.”

A list of events is at