Live blog: the Social Enterprise Exchange Marketplace 2017

Our writer FLORAIDH CLEMENT is reporting live from the event today. If you’re here and you’ve got a story, or just fancy a chat about anything social enterprise, tweet her on @positivelyscot

Their name may be Rosie’s Retro, but their attitude is truly progressive.

The Ayr-based social enterprise run a gift shop in the town centre where they provide care and jobs for six people with additional support needs. Three have travelled to Edinburgh to help run today’s stall.

Manager Julie-anne McGhee explains that the shop, part of the Turning Point Scotland network, helps adults with care needs to learn employability skills and, ultimately, work independently – although with Rosie’s as a support network.

She says: “In the past, we might have taken them on social or recreational outings such as bowling, but they’d say – we want a job.

“Rosie’s has been life-changing for them…their status has changed, they’re moving on in life.”

The social enterprise plan to move into bigger premises soon with a skills studio which’ll generate revenue to help subsidise the shop, and they also intend to recruit a new cohort of workers…to be mentored by the current team. What goes around and all that.

Each week, Audrey Mutongi’s 93-year-old companion will begin her conversation the same way.

“Let’s sit down and have a cup of friendship!”

She’ll then tell Audrey what’s been happening that week, from the new flowers the gardener has planted or how she’s feeling about Donald Trump’s latest exploits.

The exchange sounds like any old pair of pals getting together for a catch up. But that is the very point of No. 1 Befriending Agency, which Audrey founded just over a year ago.

Audrey explains: “Befriending is one of the things you bring your life experience into, but then you can also impact other peoples’ lives – just by having a cup of tea and having a blether!”

The registered CIC aims to tackle loneliness and isolation by delivering a caring service in which “befrienders” volunteer an hour of their time with a “befriendee”, who is typically over the age of 65. Their weekly meetings involve providing companionship, social support, going out for a meal, and – of course – having a cup of tea.

You can find the No. 1 Befriending Agency on Twitter via @no1auds. (Founder Audrey is also studying for her PhD while doing her work for the N1BA – what a hero).

The vision for Healthy’n’Happy is exactly as you’d expect. Through delivering services which improve the wellbeing of residents living there, the team want to make Cambuslang one of the healthiest and happiest places to live in Scotland.

One such initative working towards achieving this is the Smoothie Bike, which is for hire to schools, universities and for parties, too! Through pedalling on the bike, you can cycle your way to a delicious smoothie. The aim behind the bike is to improve awareness of the benefits of healthy eating in a fun, interactive way. Well, it certainly won’t cause the same pain the morning after a party as, say, a prosecco van…

This is only one of the many enterprises developed by Healthy’n’Happy to benefit the local community. The community development trust are also behind volunteer-led CamGlen radio and Biketown, an initative encouraging residents to reap the social, economic and environmental benefits of cycling.

If you live in the Rutherglen and Cambuslang area, there’s plenty to get involved with! Check out their website for more.

For Port Edgar Watersports CIC, getting active on the water is about a lot more than testing your adrenaline in Scotland’s icy waters; it’s about making a positive social difference in the world.

Offering windsurfing, sailing and powerboating to name a few activities, the aim of Port Edgar Watersports is to support individuals with experience in the Scottish care system in moving towards a positive future.

Manager Caroline praises the nature of watersports offered at the centre for building confidence and connections with other individuals.

“It’s very hands-on learning. Some people don’t do classroom based learning, they don’t like being told what to do. This is for people who want to just do it! It’s very team-building as well. Although you might be in a boat on your own or a stand-up paddle board on your own, you still have other people around you.”

Talk about making waves! Port Edgar Watersports CIC are looking for care-experienced people to take part in free watersports sessions in keelboating, dinghy sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Get in touch with them on Facebook.

Next up, we chat with Kinlochlovin’, a social enterprise based in the north-west of Scotland and serving young people in the Kinlochleven High School catchment area.

The local community might be rural, but the team behind Kinlochlovin’ are committed to ensuring their young people don’t miss out on activities promoting health and wellbeing, social inclusion and social justice.

“We provide them with skills, we provide them with sports, we provide them with experiences, we do arts…anything they want, we try to make it happen!”

From knitting and crafts to Quidditch and Duke of Edinburgh, Kinlochlovin’ are all about investing in their young people, giving them the opportunity to explore new activities and boost their employabilty. Since establishing back in 2015, Kinlochlovin’ have already enjoyed success on that front; they’ve recently employed their first formal pupil, who now provides dance training.

Sounds pretty Kinlochlovely (we never said this blog would be a pun-free zone…). Keep up with Kinlochlovin’ on Twitter (@Kinlochlovin).

Who says chocolate needs to be a “guilty pleasure”? Not Wee Choco, anyway.

Specialising in handmade chocolate bars, their enterprise is sweet and social, giving those with learning difficulties the opportunity to develop new skills through working in their warehouse. They also run regular chocolate making courses for children and adults with learning difficulties.

Wee Choco’s mission is best described by four words: “do good, eat chocolate”

Now there’s a social goal we can get on board with! This is one chocolate bar worthy of ditching the guilt for. Follow Wee Choco on Twitter(@WeeChocoCIC).

Earlier, Jeane Freeman, Minister for Social Security, opens the event, praising social enterprise for being a “global movement” which seeks out sustainable solutions.

She says Scotland is already a “world leader” but there is tremendous potential for the sector to grow even further, and do more to help groups such as the young, the older, the disabled and those living in poverty.

Ms Freeman gives details of the Scottish Government’s 10-year social enterprise strategy, and reminds delegates that the first three year action plan will be published soon, and points to the return of the Social Enterprise World Forum to Scotland next year.


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