Introducing our new project: The Circle Superstars

We are excited to be introducing a new project to benefit children and young people during the lockdown. Set to launch in June, The Circle Superstars is a new initiative to provide activity packs to children and young people living in Dundee whose families currently access provisions from local food projects. The packs will include activities that will stimulate creativity while encouraging a focus on mindset, community and environment. This is a pilot project and will initially be delivered in the areas within Strathmartine Ward. This project has been funded by the Wellbeing Fund; a fund administered by the Scottish Government for organisations providing important services for people as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“The Circle saved my business” first cohort of social entrepreneurs complete The Circle Academy

The first cohort of social entrepreneurs who completed our ‘More Than Profit’ training programme, The Circle Academy, have taken part in a pitch competition. The Circle Academy – the first of its kind in Scotland – was launched by Dundee-based social enterprise The Circle. The training programme was created to provide people with knowledge and tools to build sustainable ‘More Than Profit’ businesses. The candidates attended expert speaker sessions which covered topics including mindset, governance, business planning and social impact, as well as taking part in tasks to generate income. Throughout the course the candidates were also supported to work on aspects of their business including a business plan and a marketing strategy.

The Circle Academy was run by Academy Manager, Kara Swankie, a former Commonwealth power-lifting gold medallist who at just 24 has already set up and sold two businesses. Coming from a commercial background, Kara already had instilled within her a drive to focus on profit and financial sustainability which is a quality that The Circle wanted to foster in the candidates who joined the Academy. The Circle launched the Academy with an aim to ensure that the organisations being set up and developed by the candidates on the programme would be sustainable in the long term.

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Why Dundee? Scotland’s only ‘More Than Profit’ training programme launches this month in the City of Discovery

Dundee as a centre for social reform

In its recent history, Dundee has seen a transformation of its waterfront, the opening of V&A Dundee, a renovation of its railway station, the attracting of major hotel chains and the award of UNESCO City of Design. The city is making big strides in building on its cultural reputation and bring visitors from across the world. The impact of that work is to be applauded.  

While it gives many in the city a boost and we consider how to make the most of the opportunities this shift brings, we cannot ignore the other story playing out in a tale of two cities. 

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Danielle du Plooy

Solving social issues: meet the people who inspired The Circle Academy

For the past three years at The Circle, and for many years in her career before that, our Founder & CEO, Kirsty Thomson has been meeting people with a vision. Their exact motivations differ but their values are the same, they are not prepared to sit by and watch people around them struggle in their lives. They see a problem in their community, they have sought to understand it and they want to implement solutions. Crucially, they also want their work to be sustainable and make an impact.

Time and time again, we have seen such people struggle. We have seen organisations start with great intentions, but the reality is that they don’t make the impact they want. They struggle to maintain an income beyond start-up funding, they don’t have the right governance in place, the skills of their boards don’t have the right balance and they lack the capacity to meet their aims. They then become disheartened and can face personal hardship. There is currently no programme in place to intensely and robustly nurture and challenge people who have the passion and ideas to make changes that improve the prosperity of communities.

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The Circle team at the Courier Business Awards

Along Came The Circle

CEO of The Circle and ACK, Kirsty Thomson, is to merge the two community interest companies this month as she marks seven years since founding her first organisation.

Kirsty founded Along Came Kirsty in 2012 following a successful career working for charities and universities in Dundee and Newcastle. Along Came Kirsty offered support to small, medium and national charities, social enterprises and small businesses. Along Came Kirsty became ACK in 2017.

In 7 years ACK raised over £3million and worked with over 250 organisations providing advice, consultancy, fundraising and networking opportunities. They supported organisations both in the UK and internationally, including clients in Sweden and Canada. ACK has directly employed a total of nine people as well as supporting funding applications that have created jobs for over 70 people throughout the UK.

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The Circle Cafe

The National Lottery to fund training café at The Circle

The Circle is opening a training café at its Staffa Place premises. The café will train young people to work in the café and offer employment. We have joined forces with Barnardo’s Works, Dundee City Council and Leisure and Culture Dundee to apply to the Community Lottery Fund for funding to start-up this innovative project. Designed to support the needs of looked after young people and care leavers, the café will employ a Café Manager, Supervisor and several Café and Events Assistants. The Manager and Supervisor positions have been funded by The National Lottery Community Fund Young Start.

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The Circle is running its first Open Day!

The Circle will be running a free Open Day on Friday 5th April from 9.30am to 8pm. We are inviting the public to meet its staff, volunteers and the different organisations that are based here. People will get the chance to find out about the variety of services that The Circle and our tenants offer and how they can get involved themselves.

The Circle houses a wide range of organisations from sole traders to national charities. Our tenants include Better:Gen, Dundee Independent Advocacy Support, Uppertunity CIC, Cornerstone and Togs SCIO. Attendees of the Open Day will get to learn about what these tenant organisations do and hear about how The Circle came to be. The public will also get to learn about the variety of regular activities available at The Circle which cater to a number of people. This includes mother and baby fitness classes, art, cooking and gardening classes for people with additional needs and an intergenerational choir.

Founder and CEO of The Circle, Kirsty Thomson, is excited for more of the local community to find out about The Circle.

“The open day will really be a chance for people to get a behind the scenes look at what’s going on at The Circle. We want to show the public not only what we and our tenants can do for them, but how they can get involved and become part of this community.

This event will also give the public the chance to tell us what they would like to get from The Circle and our tenants.”

More information about the Open Day can be found on Eventbrite: https://thecircledundee-openday.eventbrite.co.uk

social digital society

Social Digital Sprint Day

In October the University of Dundee‘s Social Digital Society ran the Social Digital Sprint Day. The Social Digital Sprint day is a day of design, fun and problem solving. It involves participants being split up into teams and working on producing a creative solution to the brief set within the space of a few hours. This day encourages people from different backgrounds in different years to all come together over a common goal to produce a coherent piece of work.

The Circle was asked to present a brief for the teams to come up with ideas for in order to win the competition. This was the brief that the teams were presented with:

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Volunteer Week – Interview with our Volunteer Receptionist, Yulia

During #volunteerweek we caught up with our newest volunteer, Yulia, who is in her second week of volunteering at The Circle as a Volunteer Receptionist.

How did you find out about The Circle?

Alison from Dundee International Women’s Centre helped me send a CV and covering letter to different organisations in Dundee.

Why do you want to volunteer?

First of all, I want to gain experience in an office environment and with accountancy in particular. I previously worked in the Payroll department of a bank in Russia. I want to learn new things and develop my skills.

I can practice speaking English at The Circle – it’s impossible at home because my husband and I speak Russian. It’s more natural to speak your mother language.

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