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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

An experience like no other

This feature is about 10 years old

Paisley-based Kibble has launched its latest social enterprise: an indoor karting arena offering conference and catering facilities

“Confertainment” might not be a word you’re likely to find in a dictionary but it’s the term Kibble is using to describe its latest social enterprise: an indoor electric karting arena offering conference and catering facilities in the former Rolls Royce factory in Hillington, Renfrew.

It proves that while the third sector might have some way to go when it comes to effective language, it still leads on innovative socially responsibly projects the corporate sector can’t hold a light to.

No stranger to effective marketing, the Paisley-based care organisation is capitalising on the venture’s unique selling point under the banner “karting with a conscience”.

It’ll take time to get established but the money we take in goes back into the charity and is invested in young people’s futures.

Called The Experience, it probably comes as close to a socially conscience business venture you’re ever likely to find. The karts themselves are electric (no emissions, no noise pollution either) and Kibble will involve at least 50 young people from the local area in all aspects of the venture: sales, marketing, office support, customer services, kart maintenance and even catering.

“It’s been a while in the making but it’s been hugely rewarding,” explains Lesley Fuller, Kibble’s funding, marketing and communications manager.

She estimates 50 young people will be employed by the time The Experience is up and running in December and she plans to capitalise on the fact it’s a local venture employing local people.

It will also adopt Kibble’s transitional employment programme.

“It’s a model we’ve developed over the last four years and is a proven way to give young people a set amount of time to prove themselves and gain experience.

“We then work with local employers to get them into work when they leave us.”

Kibble has so far employed 117 young people on this programme, 47% of whom have gone on to positive destinations – either employment, further education or training.

Though Kibble is cagey about the figure being invested in the project, it will be at least £1m.

“Commercial enterprises are always risky but Kibble is well versed in these kinds of investments,” said Fuller.

“It’ll take time to get established but part of our sales pitch is that apart from a fantastic experience, the money we take in all goes back into the charity and invested in young people’s futures.”

The Experience will also include specially made karts for people with disabilities, enabling them to experience the thrill of karting alongside everyone else.

Funded via cash from Glasgow Airport’s Flighpath fund – which makes funds available to third sector groups and community organisations within the airport’s local area – the plan is that the karting experience will be fully inclusive and accessible by all.

Graham Bell, Kibble chief executive, added: “Our karting with a conscience programme offers social inclusion to children and adults with additional support needs and learning difficulties who would otherwise be unable to experience the thrill of go-karting.”

A sizeable part of the revenue is expected to come via corporate events and catering, however

Donald Munro, one of Scotland’s top chefs, has been involved with the design of the venue’s culinary arts centre, which incorporates a training kitchen and Miss Kibble’s Kitchen, a restaurant where fresh food will be available seven days a week.

From here catering will be provided for external events and occasions. And keeping with the environmental theme, food made on the promises will feature locally sourced ingredients including produce from Kibble’s own market garden in Hillington.

Part of the centre’s remit will be to engage a wide-range of customers – both private and third sector.

Corporate events is a growth area and something which the venture will be ideally placed to capitalise on.

Its appropriately named innovation station will provide conference, training and team building facilities, including a 100 seat lecture theatre and breakout rooms.

The Experience will work with clients to design packages incorporating go-karting, laser fun, slot car racing and catering to inject a healthy dose of fun into corporate away days.

“We will of course be marketing to third sector organisations but we’ll also be attracting the wider public and private sector,” said Fuller.

“It’s ambitious but it’s the way we need to be as funding becomes ever more scarce.”​