The Circle team at the Courier Business Awards

Celebrating our social impact at the Courier Business Awards

The Circle has won ‘The Courier Social Impact Business of the Year 2018 Award’ less than two years after it was launched by Kirsty Thomson, Founder & CEO.

The Awards Ceremony & Dinner at the Apex City Quay Dundee was a great opportunity for The Circle team to celebrate the judging panel’s recognition and reflect on their achievements. The evening was a wonderful occasion and The Circle were delighted to bring a trophy back to Staffa Place, however, it is the impact we have demonstrated that we are most proud of.


  • The Circle was founded in 2015 by Kirsty Thomson.
  • Three tenant organisations were adopted by The Circle when they moved into Staffa Place.
  • The Circle Facilities & Services Development Manager joined in summer 2016.
  • The Circle was launched on 25th November 2016 with a party, tenant showcase, crafts and community photograph exhibition.
  • Kirsty won a Women of Inspiration Award in January 2017 through Association of Scottish Business Women.
  • The Circle signed a lease with a commercial landlord in spring 2017.
  • The Circle Manager was appointed in summer 2017. The team was strengthened by participation from the ACK Marketing & Communication Officer, Rank Fundraising Intern and Administrator.
  • Highly commended in Young Business of The Year in October 2017 at the Courier Business Awards.
  • A Training & Development Officer was appointed in autumn 2018.
  • A Business Development Officer and Facilities Officer was appointed in summer 2018.
  • The 17th and final tenant, Dundee Independent Advocacy Support, joined un autumn 2018.

Social Impact

This is how we demonstrated Social Impact to win Social Impact Business of the Year Award according to The Courier’s own criteria.

A not for profit firm which put sustainability at the heart of their business and is open to any organisation from any sector. 

Contribution to the community or environment

We have created an inclusive, creative, social and enterprising learning hub for the whole community.

  • Over 300 people access the space weekly.
  • 13000 people have visited The Circle.
  • With 17 tenants in the building, we have reached capacity.
  • We have provided Uppertunity with access to community gardens to grow produce.
  • Our tenants collaborate on projects together.
  • We hold a monthly meeting for UnLtd Award Winners/ social entrepreneurs.
  • We have assisted tenants with preferential rates and free rent periods.
  • We have provided favourable terms to start-up organisations.
  • We have held 59 events, many at low or no cost to participants.

Commitment to partnership working and social inclusion

We partner with local organisations supporting ambitious and far-reaching community development ideas. As a project base, we attract inward investment to deliver exciting projects with partners.

  • In January 2018, we presented our development journey in establishing The Circle at The Barbican to a host of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and grant-making trusts.
  • We established the first UK Resilient Communities Learning Journey at The Circle in June 2018 and attracted social entrepreneurs to find out about how we developed The Circle and lessons learnt.
  • We have developed a strategic partnership with national funding body UnLtd where they have invested £20k over the next 3 years into social entrepreneurs in Dundee. We are developing links to other investors, funders and philanthropists to enhance this funding.
  • We have organised, along with the Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce, a Corporate Social Responsibility workshop.
  • We have launched corporate sponsorship packages including sponsorship of our training rooms
  • We have worked with over 50 local businesses, charities and social enterprises over the past year to deliver our training, events and learning lunches as well as receiving donations.
  • We collaborate on Dundee Soup, a community supper with funding pitches, with Creative Dundee.

Influencing adoption of best environment, workplace and community practices

We offer centralised facilities for sharing resources and can provide peer-to-peer mentoring and support

  • Better: Gen provides a regular fitness programme which includes a weekly circuits class for tenants to encourage a healthy working environment
  • We disrupt the views that charities and social enterprises should be grant-dependant and we want to encourage enterprising ideas and multiple incomes and fundraising streams to these organisations.
  • We have already seen massive changes to the physical space as well as the community we are building.
  • 70 volunteers have participated in our DIY days.
  • We are a collection point for Gate Church, Dundee Bairns and the Crimson Project.

Fostering talent

We provide a space for opportunities and collaborations for local community workers, charities, SMEs, social enterprises, social entrepreneurs and members of the community to develop.

  • We have secured £10k funding from The Mathew Trust to develop our training and development programme.
  • We have worked with the Scottish Government on the Firestarter Festival and are collaborating again in 2019.
  • We have supported 200 people through various training programmes.
  • We have supported 10 students from Dundee University in a work-placement and we are now working with 2 International Business Students to develop a new project.
  • Four volunteers have completed qualifications.
  • We support nine volunteers covering reception.
  • Our Founder and CEO Kirsty Thomson was part-funded by the Scottish Government to take part in Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Saltire Fellowship last year and represent social entrepreneurs in Scotland.
  • Kirsty also received a Grow It Award from UNLTD in June last year towards her salary.

Sharing our highlights with The Courier in the awards process was helpful in showcasing our achievements but ultimately, it’s the difference we make to the community that matters to us.

What the means to our tenants

Tenants (and therefore their beneficiaries) have reported the impact on their organisations of being based at The Circle.

  • New Board Directors.
  • More volunteers.
  • More clients.
  • New projects and collaborations with other tenants. Uppertunity and The Food Train have collaborated on a meal delivery service for the elderly.
  • New funding opportunities as a result of having a registered office.
  • Better visibility in the community of their services.
  • Reduction in isolation experiences by small teams or teams of one!

Come and see for yourself

You can see this work in action. You are very welcome to come and visit us! Do email to arrange this.

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