Eddie Baines

Full Circle – Eddie Baines

This is the story of Dundee tenant, Eddie Baines and him coming full circle. Eddie has been a part of The Circle for several years in a number of ways and he is here to demonstrate the strength and the sense of community we all feel being part of The Circle.

Eddie tells us his inspiring story in his own words.

Eddie Baines
Eddie Baines

I am Eddie Baines, born in Dundee but raised all over the UK, mainly Manchester and Coventry but we lived in various places. I attended 6 different primary schools and 3 secondary schools, leaving with no qualifications or aspirations education was not for me at that time. My childhood was very happy even though I spent periods in children’s care homes, and I was even homeless for a while sleeping rough. I was constantly in and out of trouble for silly minor things eventually, the best thing I ever did was come to move back to Scotland to my nans and become a chef. Around this time, I entered the darkest period of my life as we as a family suffered a huge loss when our daughter, Iona was killed in Perth in a tragic accident. It rocked our world immensely and I fell into a battle with addiction. Drugs and drinking were the way I dealt with life, but thankfully my best friend and wife stood by me we got through it. I don’t consider myself an ex-addict as I think you’re always an addict you just focus that part on other things like volunteering, working, etc.

As a part of my recovery journey, I went back to college and university gaining qualifications in Engineering and Renewables and Criminology. Whilst at university, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, which was why I was finding maths so hard.

I became more involved with the Student Association, running for NUS Scot disability officer and getting elected as an executive officer 3 years in a row. I attended conferences and learnt loads from presidents and vice presidents along the way. I saw an advert for The Circle for volunteers, so I decided to apply and fill my spare time with this new role.

Working in The Circle and working with the Student Association forced me to do uncomfortable things and it got easier. While on reception I was the first point of contact and tried to be a fun, happy and welcoming person, getting to know people and having a laugh with everyone, whilst also doing what was needed, upskilling and attending training, network events, and a host of valuable events at The Circle.

The one thing with The Circle, it has a genuine community feel.

Eddie Baines, National Lottery Community Trust

I had heard about The Circle Academy briefly and was keen to see what it was about when it was launched, luckily, I was offered a place on it with the most amazing group of people and all of us very different, what an experience.

It taught me that I had done everything with the Kirkton Community Larder wrong. I had passion but no business sense at all, the academy team were great, and they taught me loads which I implemented and took the larder from £20 out of my back pocket, to a thriving new charity with two shops and a great future helping the Strathmartine community. Over covid, thanks to the lessons taught, I was able to keep it going and raise nearly £60,000 which was all thanks to the skills learnt on the academy around grant writing and governance and a host of other areas, especially finance thanks to a very patient Ruth, The Circle’s Financial Controller

I met so many great people through The Circle, and it was one of these who introduced me to the Scotland 2027 programme. This is where collaboration between five of the UK’s leading social change organisations: Centre for Knowledge Equity, Charityworks, Koreo, Northern Soul Consultancy and Ten Years, got together to try and change the landscape of the funding sector. Looking at the future of philanthropy and where people with lived expertise fit, where do we insert the missing diversity and bring about real change.

They believe that bringing funders and working-class communities closer together, will enable the sector to begin building a new funding model for a fairer society.

It was an extremely difficult programme to get on and I was amazed when I did. I was picked by The National Lottery Community Fund, to become a Community Funder in the Northeast team due to my local knowledge and expertise.

Now I am a tenant at The Circle, working for The National Lottery Community Fund and I love being back here as it’s a great, warm, friendly community and the staff are amazing. It’s great to be working in a place that is so diverse and where better to network and keep on top of the amazing things in Dundee than the place that gave me so much in the beginning. I have come full circle.

Eddie didn’t gain many grades at school, he has battled with depression and addiction, he was diagnosed with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia but gained qualifications in Engineering and Renewables and Criminology. He set up Kirkton Community Larder and is now working for the National Lottery Community Fund from within The Circle.

He has been involved in The Circle for many years, he first started volunteering as a receptionist and helping us with odd jobs around the building. He then joined The Circle Academy where he learned the skills to strengthen his existing business.

It taught me that I had done everything with the Kirkton Community Larder wrong. I had passion but no business sense at all, the academy team were great, and they taught me loads which I implemented and took the larder from £20 out of my back pocket, to a thriving new charity with two shops and a great future helping the Strathmartine community. Over covid, thanks to the lessons taught, I was able to keep it going and raise nearly £60,000.

Now I am a tenant at The Circle, working for The National Lottery Community Fund and I love being back here as it’s a great, warm, friendly community and the staff are amazing. It’s great to be working in a place that is so diverse and where better to network and keep on top of the amazing things in Dundee than the place that gave me so much in the beginning.

I feel I have come full circle.

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