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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.

How social enterprise transforms local economies

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A café in Perth is a community keystone

Scotland’s deputy first minister found out how a social enterprise is serving up work and training opportunities in the local community alongside tasty food and drinks.

John Swinney came along to the Giraffe Café and training kitchen in Perth, as he saw first-hand how social enterprises are transforming Scotland’s local economies.

The Giraffe Café supports people with learning disabilities, those with mental ill health, and autistic people to make the transition towards inclusion, socialisation and, if appropriate, into meaningful work.

Trainees come from across Perth and Kinross to get experience, skills and confidence in a friendly, supportive environment. Profits from the café and catering business support training opportunities as well as a programme of activities aimed at reducing isolation and improving mental and physical health. It is one of more than 6,000 social enterprises in Scotland and together they contribute more than £2.6 billion to Scotland’s economy, creating almost 90,000 jobs.

Swinney was welcomed to the Giraffe Café by Gareth Ruddock, chief executive of Giraffe, and Chris Martin, chief executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, which champions and supports the social enterprise community.

In July this year, Social Enterprise Scotland was chosen by the Scottish Government to represent social enterprises in Scotland with one clear voice. 

The independent and membership-led organisation supports and promotes the rich and diverse social enterprise sector across the country, helping them to maximise their social and economic contribution to Scotland. It follows on from the Scottish Government’s Social Enterprise Action Plan 2021-24, which commits to place social enterprise at the forefront of ethical and socially responsible business in Scotland.

John Swinney MSP said:“It was a pleasure to visit The Giraffe Café, and to see first-hand the important work they are doing in our community. In addition to Giraffe’s outstanding efforts to support local people living in poverty, their commitment to providing training, support and opportunities for individuals across the region makes a valuable contribution to the local economy whilst significantly enriching the lives of those who engage with the organisation.

"I would like to put on record my thanks to all the staff and volunteers involved with The Giraffe Café, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of their work in the months and years ahead.”

Chris Martin, chief executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, said:“We are proud to be growing a strong and inclusive voice for social enterprises in Scotland. We were delighted to welcome Mr Swinney to see first-hand how the more-than-profit approach at the heart of the social enterprise movement is making a difference every single day. Social enterprises play a leading role in putting greater fairness and equality into our economy and Giraffe is a fantastic example of what can be achieved.”

Gareth Ruddock, chief executive of the Giraffe, added: “Enterprising social businesses like ours are the backbone of communities across Scotland and will be even more so in the face of the cost of living crisis and more.

"Like many other wonderful organisations in Perth and Kinross, and indeed across Scotland, we are doing what we can to support our communities. In the last two years, as well as operating a café and busy outside catering business, our trainees, staff and volunteers have made and distributed more than 50,000 meals for free to local people in need through food insecurity, deprivation or poverty – we couldn’t do this without the support and collaboration of other social enterprises and charities locally.”