Dental school makes social enterprise mark

Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise, established by Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry to bring its successful Dental Education Facilities and community activity under one umbrella, is now up and running and already making its mark.

When it was announced earlier this year it was already a world first, because it was the first clinical entity to be incorporated into a social enterprise by an education provider.

It became operational this month and has already scored some early successes.

Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise is the first project of its kind to receive the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark and, in this, it follows in the footsteps of Plymouth University, which was itself the first university in the world to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark.

The Mark is the only independent proof that an organisation is putting people, planet and community ahead of profit. The process for awarding the Social Enterprise Mark is extremely rigorous and it is a real achievement that shows true commitment to improving accessibility to oral health improvement and treatment.

As well as achieving the Social Enterprise Mark, Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise is also forging ahead with some exciting projects.

One such is an oral health round table to be held in Plymouth in November in partnership with Wrigley and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. The event will feature key figures in the world of dentistry, local MPs and other leading thinkers and will focus on how local health stakeholders can best work together within the new NHS landscape to encourage people to take better care of their oral health.

Another project in its infancy is a collaboration with the Institute of Digital Arts Technology at Plymouth University. Plans are afoot to develop an educational experience using the University¹s immersive vision theatre, which is effectively a dome in which images are broadcast with the audience at the heart of the action. It is likely that the project will see images of a giant¹s mouth, featuring teeth, gums, tooth brushing, having a filling and other dental activity. When the project goes ahead, potentially later next year, it will be the first time in the world that this technology will be used for such a purpose.

Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise employs 70 members of staff, including dental nurses and technicians and administrators, and will continue the good work of Plymouth University Peninsula Schools for Medicine and Dentistry¹s Dental Education Facilities in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro, and its community engagement team.

The latter has built impressive relationships with the communities in which the Dental Education Facilities sit, and it also manages the special study units undertaken by first and second-year dental students. These are projects which see students go out into the community and address issues of oral health care and oral health inequalities by working with a wide range of groups, from primary school pupils to care homes, substance abusers and the homeless.

Professor Christopher Tredwin, Head of the School of Dentistry from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said: 'We are excited that Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise is now up and running and already making a positive impact in the communities within which we operate. The social enterprise structure gives us the flexibility to achieve so much more and to build on our historical successes. Achieving the Social Enterprise Mark brings with it immense kudos and is a powerful endorsement of all we plan to do – working to improve access to dentistry for the local community, as well as delivering the highest level of training.'

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