Goodbye Nicola! A ‘few’ words on three years spent developing a start-up social enterprise

Our Business Development Officer, Nicola Donnelly, leaves us this week after three years at The Circle. She is moving on to a new role at Carolina House Trust as Marketing and Recruitment Officer. Before she left, we grabbed a ‘few’ words about her time at The Circle and what she has learned.


The first time Kirsty gave me a tour of the building that became The Circle, I was more than a little wary. It was huge, dark and very, very empty. What did compel me, was the potential. And Kirsty’s vision. To turn such a sad, sprawling centre of redundant employment training into a buoyant, bustling and productive hub for the community. The particulars changed as we tried and tested different services that would lead us to the goal but enabling people and organisations to thrive remained at the centre of our endeavors.

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Founder and CEO of The Circle enrolled in Business Accelerator Programme Scale-Up Scotland

Kirsty Thomson, Founder and CEO of local social enterprise, The Circle Dundee has recently been enrolled in the Scale-Up Scotland programme. Scale-Up Scotland is a leadership programme that is delivered through an 18-month cohort-based programme. This is aimed at ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses with the potential and desire to substantially grow their businesses.  

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The Circle Café team visit Street & Arrow in Glasgow

Last week, some members of The Circle team and Alan Gunn from Dundee City Council visited Street & Arrow in Glasgow.

Street & Arrow dishes up tasty modern street food. However this social enterprise does more than just good grub, it’s also serving up second chances for its employees. Street & Arrow hires people with convictions for twelve month blocks. During that time workers are paired with a mentor who can help them master everything from basic employability skills like turning up to work on time through to debt management and relationship issues. 

Caitlin Collins, our Café Supervisor wrote the following blog post about her experience and what she feels she will benefit from visiting them:

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The Circle Café

Our Café Manager, Stephen and Café Supervisor, Caitlin were invited to attend an education and training session run by charity ‘Who Cares? Scotland’ in partnership with Community Jobs Scotland and SCVO.

Who Cares? Scotland is a national charity which was established in 1978’ with 41 years of experience working directly with Care Experienced people across Scotland. Independent advocacy is at the heart of the organisation.  They are a membership organisation with a multi-layered model who work to tackle stigma, promote positive care identity and effect positive change for Care Experienced people.

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The Circle Chit Chat at DC Thomson

DC Thomson are hosting The Circle Chit Chat on Thursday 30th May!

The Circle Chit Chat is a free and informal networking opportunity for anyone involved with a charity, social enterprise or community group. Hosted by a different organisation each time, it runs on a quarterly basis and includes short presentations on subjects of interest to those present including funding, social media skills, service design, team building and much more. There is always time to network with others and opportunities for cooperative working.

You can register for a free ticket here.

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Darryl and Danielle Gaffney Du Plooy from Uppertunity at the first Dundee Soup

Funding for projects that benefit the Dundee community

The next edition of Dundee Soup is to take place at The Circle on Saturday 1st December. This is to be the fifth round of the event, but this festive edition will be different to previous rounds as it will be part of Fair Saturday. Fair Saturday is a Scottish Government pilot initiative for 2018 which is being delivered by the Fair Saturday Foundation. Organised in partnership between Creative Dundee and the Circle Dundee, this event gives micro grants to local community-based projects to make ideas a reality, over a simple soup dinner.

For a suggested donation of £5, attendees receive a simple soup supper and will hear four short presentations from local people running community projects.Dundee Soup dinners are open to anyone: whether you need help for an idea that could benefit the Dundee community or whether you want to support a local community-based project.  Once the groups pitch their projects to the attending public everyone votes for their preferred project, the ballots are counted, and the winner goes home with ALL the money raised on the night.

This edition of Dundee Soup has been funded by BEMIS Scotland via the Scotland’s Winter Festivals fund, and part of the St Andrew’s Fair Saturday Festival. This is a partnership between BEMIS Scotland and the Scottish Government to facilitate diverse, multicultural celebrations. This funding will allow The Circle and Creative Dundee to pay former Dundee Soup pitchers, Uppertunity, to make the soup which will give their members experience in event catering.

Danielle Du Plooy, who founded Uppertunity, is excited for the organisation to return to Dundee Soup as caterers. 
“Since pitching at the first Dundee Soup ourselves we have seen the benefits of not only the funding but also the connections it allowed us to make in Dundee. I would recommend it to anyone who has an idea that will benefit the local community. We have been able to grow our organisation, develop the gardens at The Circle and start to work collaboratively with more organisations.”

Who’s pitching at Soup?

The Art of Seeing Photography is a community-based Photography editing and printing suite in Studio 11, in Meadow Mill, which creates an exciting learning environment for photographers of all ages and stages. The ethos of the studio is simple, learn and exhibit work in a fun and imaginative way, building confidence through inspiration. Studio 11 is a truly unique gallery and learning space in the heart of the city, for both community based and/or established photographers and artists to exhibit.

Emerging Dundee – Acting Locally, Thinking Globally. The intention is to deliver a weekend festival to connect do-ers in the city. The purpose of the festival is to co-create ideas that could benefit Dundee and are relational to what participants sense are happening globally. This will be done through a programme of activities that ignite free thinking, intuition and togetherness.

Togs for Tots is a clothing, equipment and experiences bank for children living in poverty. We receive donations from the public and distribute them to children suffering from the effects of poverty. Right now, we need to support to buy new pyjamas and underwear for children for referrals waiting to go out.

You can register to attend the next Dundee Soup here: 
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dundee-soup-5-tickets-52049697045

The Circle works with Dundee Comics Creative Space to provide free after school comic club

Local community hub, The Circle, is collaborating with Dundee Comics Creative Space to run a free 10 week programme of comic workshops for 10 to 17 year olds in Dundee. ‘Dundee After School Comic Club’ will be running every Thursday from 4.30pm to 6pm beginning on Thursday 6th September. Artists from Dundee Comics Creative Space will be on hand each week to guide the young people through designing their own characters and story worlds. Then they will help them create stories and turn their plots and characters into finished comics pages.

Damon Herd, Coordinator of Dundee Comics Creative Space is excited to be working with The Circle to deliver the programme.

“DCCS is delighted to be working with The Circle on a programme of comics workshops over the next few months. We came together through connections with The Rank Foundation, who, along with the University of Dundee, are a core funder of DCCS. One of the main reasons for running our regular Comics Clubs is to reach out to the young people of Dundee and offer free workshops in which anyone can explore their creativity. We also do outreach workshops in schools and community centres to allow access for young people who often find it difficult to come in to town.

“Teaming up with The Circle is a great opportunity to expand on these workshops and provide a larger Comics Club programme for more young people across Dundee. We are really excited to have the space and time to run in-depth comics-making workshops for young people and are so looking forward to seeing the comics they will produce!”

Kirsty Thomson, Founder & CEO of The Circle, said, “We are delighted that the Comics Creative Space are bringing their popular after school programme to The Circle. We are looking to increase the number of community events that we offer and this is a great way to get kids into The Circle. There is a great creative scene in Dundee and it’s important we bring opportunities like this out into communities.”

For more information and to book places at the comic club go to: https://dundeeafterschoolcomicclub.eventbrite.co.uk

Dundee Soup is back in September!

Dundee Soup gives micro-grants to local community-based projects to make ideas a reality, over a simple supper dinner. The fourth Dundee Soup will take place on Tuesday 25th September 2018 from 6pm – 8.30pm, at Roseangle Kitchen Cafe.

Dundee Soup is a social event supporting local community-based projects and creating new connections in the city. For a suggested donation of £5 or more, you can join us on the night, receive a simple soup supper and hear four short presentations from local people with creative ideas to benefit their community – these can range from art, design, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and much more. At the end of the night, everyone gives their donations directly to their preferred projects!

Book your ticket here.

Dundee Soup dinners are open to anyone: whether you need help for an idea that could benefit the Dundee community or whether you want to support a local community-based project. Read more about the event here.

If you are interested in hosting a Dundee Soup in the future, sponsor the supper, play some music, or something else on the night then get in touch – we’d love to hear from you: news@creativedundee.com.

Interested in pitching at this event?

Anyone who has an idea to benefit Dundee’s communities can pitch – whether you are an individual, small team or community group. The application deadline is midnight, Sunday 16th September 2018. Please fill out the form here.

Resilient Communities Dundee Awards Events 2018/19

The Circle is excited to host a series of exciting and engaging events as part of our Resilient Communities Programme with partners UnLtd and other facilitators.

This programme includes a variety of free events over the 3rd and 4th of September where attendees can gain insight from successful entrepreneurs, learn how to pitch their ideas, find out more about growth mindset and watch social entrepreneurs make their pitch for a share of £20k funding from Resilient Communities.

Resilient Communities Event Programme

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