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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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How chocolate is helping to tackle inequalities faced by women


Social enterprise has been awarded £70,000

Positive Changes, a social enterprise in Stirling that supports women who have touched the Scottish criminal justice system has been awarded £70,000.

The cash comes from the new Tackling Inequalities fund being piloted by Foundation Scotland.

Positive Changes supports women in training and work experience through the making and selling of chocolates branded as Grace Chocolates, Changing Lives.

The aim of the Tackling Inequalities fund is to provide organisations with the financial support to develop, test, implement or scale up activity that contributes to tackling and reducing inequalities either in their local areas or through their project more widely.

Funding will help groups go beyond dealing with the symptoms of inequality and contribute to reducing it at its root causes. 

Giving agency to communities themselves to work in this ‘upstream’ way can help build an evidence base for what works and begin to challenge traditional systems.

This is the first ‘thematic’ fund that Foundation Scotland has delivered, and seven projects will receive a funding total of around £500,000.

Positive Changes has been operating in Stirling for over six years, supporting women who have touched the Scottish criminal justice system to gain qualifications, as well as workplace and life skills. 

The organisation uses the vehicle of chocolate making to engage with the women while 100% of its profits are reinvested to deliver online mentoring and health and wellbeing programmes in addition to work placements.

Many women who have touched the justice system face homelessness yet research shows having a home helps break the cycle of reoffending. 

Positive Changes will use the £70,000 funding to explore creative and innovative options of housing that best meets the needs of the women they support. 

By providing phased levels of support the women can build skills for living, leading to their own tenancy and becoming valuable contributors to their communities.

Joyce Murray, founding director and CEO of Positive Changes, said: “Women who have touched the justice system often face huge barriers when trying to access suitable housing. There are some housing options available but none tailored to meet the specific needs of women with convictions. We know it is going to take something different and we are grateful for the support of Foundation Scotland and Wellbeing Alliance Scotland to allow us to find that.”

Helen Wray, head of philanthropy at Foundation Scotland, added: “Alongside responding to immediate and vital demands, Foundation Scotland is increasingly adopting a developmental approach, allocating funding to groups working differently to create a fairer and more just Scotland. We wanted to develop a new fund to test local, community-led approaches to preventative, or ‘upstream’ solutions that tackle some of the barriers to equality. We’ll be learning from the funded projects about their own approaches and what works well, which will help inform our own thinking in the future.” 

The three-year funding programme is being delivered in partnership with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, an organisation that envisions an economic system that has wellbeing at its heart, and ensures everyone can experience fairness and connection, and participate in the decisions that affect them.

Lisa Hough-Stewart, from Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, said:“The inequalities driven and maintained by our current economic system harm people’s wellbeing and prevent them from thriving. We urgently need an economic system explicitly designed to do the opposite, to tackle inequalities and allow everyone to thrive.

“The organisations funded by the new Tackling Inequalities Fund are fantastic charities at the frontline of tackling the symptoms of inequality. They already have knowledge and ideas about how to tackle its causes, and we are excited to learn from and amplify their work over the next three years.”

All seven projects will participate in a learning journey together to provide local, first-hand evidence on what helps and what hinders a society based on greater equality.

The seven projects are: Gordon Rural Action, Kingdom Off Road Motorcycle Club, Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Development Trust, Networks of Wellbeing, Positive Changes Scotland, Showcase the Street and an award has also been made to the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland.

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