Grants of between £500 and £15,000 are available
New funding has become available in Scotland to identify and support social entrepreneurs – people who create innovative solutions with the potential to change society for the better.
Awards from £500 to £15,000 are on offer, alongside a package of one to one and peer support, from UnLtd Scotland, whose mission is to find, fund and support social entrepreneurs.
UnLtd Scotland particularly encourages applications from people who identify as Black, Asian or from a minority ethnic background, and those with disabilities. They are also keen to support those with direct experience of the social issues they are looking to solve. UnLtd Scotland supports people to start or grow their business, whether to develop and test an idea or grow a social venture that’s already up and running.
The awards on offer include:
- Try it awards to support social entrepreneurs to test their ideas
- Do it awards to help you get started and create a clear social impact
- Grow it awards to help social entrepreneurs already thriving to grow their impact and build a sustainable financial model
Scotland’s social enterprises have been at the heart of community survival and recovery during the coronavirus crisis, from making PPE for health workers, to providing food and opportunities for connection in their communities. UnLtd Scotland has boosted their core funding programme to meet the needs of social entrepreneurs as the organisation believes social entrepreneurs are critical to solving social issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
Thomas McAlister, UnLtd Scotland support manager, said:
"The virus, the economic crash, and inaccessible support are hitting vulnerable communities the hardest. The societal impact of COVID-19 is already proving long-term and wide-ranging, with an alarming rise in youth unemployment, a devastating increase in inequality and the attrition in people’s health, wellbeing and sense of connection.
“We believe social entrepreneurs, particularly those with lived experience of these challenges and injustices, have powerful solutions to these issues, while also offering meaningful jobs, sustainable finances and a more inclusive recovery. We’re here to help them start or grow their ideas.”
One social entrepreneur recently supported is occupational therapist Pasna Sallis, who set up social enterprise Weekday Wow Factor (WWF) with support and funding from UnLtd. They provide a platform for socialising, adventure and exercise for over 50s at risk of loneliness and social isolation in the greater Glasgow area.
Attendees enjoyed the kind of fun usually reserved for teenagers, with activities ranging from discos to descending zip wires, surfing to speedboating, and ten pin bowling to trampolining.
The coronavirus crisis forced their popular daytime discos in Glasgow’s west end to move online in March and they now take place daily alongside a host of other activities, such as virtual walks visiting a different place in the world each day, to get people leading an inactive lifestyle at home moving again.
Pasna Sallis, founder of Weekday Wow Factor, said: “The funding from UnLtd meant we could make our online activities free and accessible. It enabled me to hire two sessional workers to help deliver the activities and to develop our new website. The UnLtd learning sessions were really helpful at the outset and the networking and peer support from other social entrepreneurs has been invaluable. I am also now working collaboratively with other organisations UK-wide.”
Going online has expanded WWF’s geographical reach beyond their original Glasgow catchment, with people taking part from as far afield as Newcastle. The social enterprise is now hosting virtual Christmas parties for other organisations, including Independent Age, Glasgow’s Golden Generation and care homes.
Pasna added: “UnLtd’s support has really contributed to us becoming unlimited in our potential. Going digital has taken our social enterprise to new territories and we intend to keep our digital activities going post COVID, as it means we can reach so many more people.”