A group of 21 people standing together in front of a building underneath a sign with The Circle logo on it

£80,000 has been distributed in Dundee through the Resilient Communities programme

A total of £80,000 has been distributed to Dundee social entrepreneurs over the past four years through a strategic partnership between The Circle and national funding body, UnLtd. This funding was awarded through UnLtd’s Resilient Communities programme, a project which aimed to support and work with social entrepreneurs to build resilient and enterprising communities in areas throughout the UK.

Through the People’s Postcode Lottery, grants have been awarded in South Wales Valleys, North Staffordshire, Brighton and Dundee. Grants were also awarded in 19 other areas of the UK through Local Trust.

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Dundee’s Social Entrepreneurs receive thousands in funding from UnLtd after a successful pitch event.

Four local social entrepreneurs have been awarded a total of £16,000 in funding for the development of their socially impactful ventures. The four individuals were amongst a number of entrepreneurs who pitched their ventures to a panel at the Resilient Communities Do It Award pitch event last December. Jill Duke, Sharon Wilson-Hodgson, Marco Notrangelo, and Naomi MacIntosh each received up to £5,000 to go towards start-up costs alongside a tailored package of ongoing support and 1-1 coaching from UnLtd.

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Start up funding for social entrepreneurs in Dundee

Social entrepreneurs are being invited to pitch for a share of a £20,000 funding pot towards start-up costs for their ventures. The Circle and funding body, UnLtd, are inviting people starting up organisations or projects which will benefit the Dundee community to make a pitch about their venture to a panel of judges. Following the pitches, successful entrants will be awarded up to £5,000 to cover some of their start-up costs.

Those who are interested in this opportunity should register their interest by contacting eileeninglis@unltd.org.uk or by completing an application here: https://www.unltd.org.uk/our-work/our-focus-areas/resilient-communities

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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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