In 2016 The Scottish Government published its 10 year Social Enterprise Strategy. This plan, developed in collaboration with organisations within the sector, sets out the government’s ambitions for social enterprise in Scotland. As part of this, a Social Enterprise Action Plan for 2021 to 2024 was published in March 2021.
How does The Circle see itself fitting into the Social Enterprise Action Plan?
The Scottish Government have highlighted a number of key priority areas within the plan to help achieve the aims of the Social Enterprise Strategy. We were delighted to see there were a number of areas where our work already aligns with some of the strategy’s key priority areas:
“Create the conditions where place-based social enterprise activity and communities can flourish, through enhanced promotion, developing capacity, and funding“
The Circle currently operates a community hub in the North East of Dundee which offers affordable office space, meeting and event spaces and community events.
- There are currently 15 charities, social enterprises, small businesses and sole traders with offices at The Circle
- All elements of tenancies – utilities, broadband, recycling facilities etc. – are included in a single fee so tenants always know what their costs will be
- Additional benefits come with tenancy at The Circle including discounted tickets to The Circle events as well as an allocation of free consultancy annually and free use of meeting rooms monthly
As a result of tenancies, organisations have accessed funding, increased their service offerings, expanded into further spaces and increased their staff teams.
Ensuring Fair Work
Inclusion is one of the values that The Circle embeds into its work. This value is applied across the board to our team, customers and to visitors in our facility.
- We provide volunteering and job opportunities to people who face additional barriers to the labour market
- All volunteers and staff are given opportunities to upskill and gain formal qualifications to boost their confidence and support them to achieve their personal and professional goals
- We believe in paying people fairly for their work and as such are a Living Wage employer – this includes topping up the pay of Kickstart placements
- We operate a 4-day working week to improve staff’s wellbeing and encourage work-life balance
“In just a short space of time, this new initiative has made a big difference in the team. We have an extra day to focus on our wellbeing and we’re achieving more because we’re more motivated and energised.”Jenny McCarthy, The Circle staff member
Developing entrepreneurial mindset and behaviours
- We operate with a ‘More Than Profit’ approach meaning we aim for financial sustainability through multiple income streams and that we use the income we generate to create a positive social impact
- Candidates on The Circle Academy are introduced to the More Than Profit approach and entrepreneurial mindset in the first weeks of the programme
- Financial sustainability and accessing multiple income streams are promoted throughout The Circle Academy to shift away from the mindset of being solely reliant on a single funding source
Access to finance
- Candidates on The Circle Academy are given income-generating tasks and the money this generates goes into a funding pot which is distributed to the candidate who wins a pitch competition at the end of the programme
- Through our partnership with UnLtd on the Resilient Communities programme from 2017 to 2021, a total of £80,000 was distributed to support founders of socially impactful projects in Dundee
- We partner with Creative Dundee on the micro-grant event, Dundee Soup, where local residents pay £5 for a bowl of soup and to hear pitches from 4 projects that benefit the community, then vote for which project their donation will support – £2,200 has been raised for Dundee based projects through this
Business Support and Development
- Our consultancy team offer support, advice and training in a wide range of areas including business planning, funding and accounting
- Tenants receive 8 hours of free consultancy per year – this support has
- Over 50 hours of consultancy time was provided free of charge in 2020 to support our community resulting in securing over £250,000 in funding to help them recover and stay up and running through the pandemic
The role of social enterprise in the delivery of public services
- We have had visits from Scottish councillors and Members of Parliament including Chris Law, Aileen Campbell, Jamie Hepburn and Fraser MacPherson – we have used these visits to demonstrate the way we work and talk about how we view social enterprises’ roles in relation to public services
- We worked with Dundee City Council, Leisure & Culture Dundee and Barnardo’s to deliver The Circle Cafe project, a training and employability programme for looked after young people and care leavers
- Following the project’s end, we produced an extensive report which we shared with the local authority as well as giving them our recommendations for similar projects in the future
Engaging young people with social enterprise
- We offer placements and internships to young people through our established relationships with schools, colleges, universities and employability programmes
- We have taken on 2 interns through The Rank Foundation’s Time to Shine, a programme for people to complete a 12-month leadership and development placement in a third sector organisation
- 3 young people have completed The Circle Academy programme so far including a sixth-year high school student – this offers a way for young people to learn about social entrepreneurship and learn about the third sector as a potential career path
If you would like to find out more about our work, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01382 699990.