Social Enterprise Day 2020

Happy #SocialEnterpriseDay2020!

#WhoKnew that since April 2020 we have completed more than 74 programmes across Scotland supporting more than 910 learners from over 344 organisations create change in their organisations and communities!

From donating digital devices to support local wellbeing centre members to providing food parcels to those in need it’s been inspirational to see how social enterprises are creating innovative solutions to tackle some of Scotland’s most pressing challenges.

To celebrate Social Enterprise Day 2020, our Scotland team would like to give a shout out to some of the many organisations that are creating amazing impact in their communities. 


Projekt 42

"Projekt 42 is a community wellbeing centre with fitness, yoga and mental health services, a centre that doesn’t exist just to help members to get fit but to connect happy bodies with strong minds. P42 is a charity and social enterprise based in Leith whose aim is to help communities see and understand the connection between their physical fitness and their mental health and the need to take care of both.

2020 has seen this Projekt 42 face some very difficult challenges, not just with having to close during the first lockdown and reopening to highly restricted numbers, effectively cutting off access to healthy activities to those who have come to depend on it, but also dealing with recurring issues with the building itself.

The resulting impact of closing, furloughing staff and losing some membership fees has meant the team have had to rethink their offer. They implemented a new programme of online classes and stuck at it through all the trials of poor connectivity, crashing technology and just a few nerves about being ‘on-screen’ during a class (I still keep my video firmly switched off!)!

They even donated phones and tablets to members to enable them to access classes so nobody would be left behind.

The team, which are still functioning on reduced staff numbers, are now running 45 online classes per week, which includes free senior yoga classes and outdoor boot camps and are trialling open water swimming sessions, orienteering classes, walking groups, fitness groups with buggies for parents and a run club.

But it's not just ensuring access to fitness classes that remains a priority. Sobering statistics highlight just how critical the services that Projekt 42 offer are, with those accessing services reporting an increase in stress and anxiety, individuals experiencing family issues have increased and those suffering from bereavement and needing support have doubled in the past year. They are now in the process of renovating a new venue for the expanding counselling team, providing over 300 hours per week of counselling services to those in need.

Knowing that my gym is taking an innovative approach to positive mind and body health, and that by doing what I love will also benefit someone else, is all the motivation I need to keep active and look after my own wellbeing during these difficult times!"

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The Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust

"This year, the community-owned Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust purchased the Lighthouse and associated buildings. An iconic and historic building, the most westerly point of the British mainland, this is a hauntingly beautiful place. The Community have identified this as a key asset and are developing this as a visitor attraction and a great way to share their culture with visitors.

The community has created a coffee shop at the Lighthouse, not an easy task when there was no potable water supply. The medium-term plan is to bring back into use the Lighthouse keepers’ cottages, for tourist accommodation. This will provide a sustainable income stream and give visitors a terrific experience.

Taking on a visitor-facing asset in the middle of a national lockdown is not the easiest thing to do. However, we’ve been delighted to welcome the Trust’s Manager Stephanie Cope onto our Communities Leading in Tourism programme this Autumn. It’s a great group of learners, ranging from Shetland to Barra to the Borders. The story of the Lighthouse was already a good practice case study on the programme, so having Stephanie as a learner is a terrific way of sharing this great story.

From The Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust, we can learn about vision, resilience, focus and a sense of time perspective which goes well beyond the ‘here and now’."

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Muir of Ord Development Trust

"Muir of Ord Development Trust has overcome great challenges and adapted this year. The MOODT projects are based around bringing people together.

They have redeveloped two tired and underused community buildings into modern, versatile spaces – The Muir Hub and The Village Hall (where Social Enterprise Academy rent office space). Both facilities are at the heart of a growing community, aiming to improve social impact through enterprising and community focussed activities. At this time, when bringing people together is impossible, MOODT had to adapt very quickly. They've supported the community by:

  • Offering a 7-day a week phone line, organising and delivering food parcels and coordinating volunteers
  • Breaking down boredom with projects such as creating a swap shop
  • Helping people more connected and raising awareness of local news be regularly producing and delivering newsletters to the whole village

During the period of lockdown MOODT distributed a community survey to help plan for the future. This helped MOODT to progress their pop up swap shop and helped develop a strategy for Christmas, which may be a difficult time for many. This will be a strategy of sharing crafts, gifts and baking, sharing cheer and letting people know that their community is thinking of them – they are not alone during this difficult time!

The MOODT has always been very much ‘community-led’ - from the design of the Muir Hub building to accommodate the community’s needs for activities and social space to the planning and running of groups. The Muir Hub has allowed people to think more positively about their community and allowed them to get involved with volunteering opportunities and social events. Even though the Hub cannot have its doors open at present, it has still been at the heart of community development."

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The Big Issue

"For nearly 30 years The Big Issue has played a crucial role in society, creating opportunities to end poverty and homelessness by supporting over 100,000 vulnerable people to earn a living.

Covid-19 has meant that this year has been incredibly challenging for this social enterprise and their vendors. When the pandemic struck, The Big Issue lost 80% of its revenue overnight. It was inspiring to see the organisation think quickly and create innovative ways of existing in the new reality. Almost instantly, they created digital subscription services. I joined the Social Enterprise Academy's reading hour with The Big Issue downloaded on my phone. It was heartening to know that the vendors would still receive an income whilst the country was in lockdown.

The Big Issue supported their street sellers by providing PPE on an ongoing basis, partnering with iZettle to accelerate moving vendors to cashless payments through card readers, providing ten free magazines and increasing the cover price to ensure sellers make more money. 

However, as we see part of the country going back into lockdown, there are still massive challenges ahead for this social enterprise. There are ways that we can support them through the Covid-19 pandemic this Winter:

• Subscribe to the Big Issue individually
• Subscribe as a business or on behalf of your staff, giving a Christmas gift to your employees and the many vulnerable people who rely on The Big Issue
• Make a donation to their Christmas appeal to support the amazing work they do during this crisis and beyond

More information on their Urgent Christmas Appeal can be found here."


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