The annual awards Scotland saw nine social enterprises and social entrepreneurs from across the country revealed at a Holyrood reception
The very best in the Scottish social enterprise has been celebrated at the Scottish Parliament.
The annual Social Enterprise Awards Scotland saw nine social enterprises and social entrepreneurs from across the country presented as the best of the best at an awards reception at Holyrood.
The top prize, Social Enterprise of the Year 2023, was awarded to the Isle of Skye Ferry, from the Scottish islands.
The Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company owns and operates the last manually operated turntable ferry in existence, from Glenelg on the mainland to Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye, across an ancient drover's route from the Hebrides.
All profits are reinvested into preserving the historic vessel, ensuring the sustainability of the ferry service, and supporting other local community groups and events.
Four of the nine categories were awarded to social enterprises from the Highlands and Islands. Across Scotland, 33% of social enterprises are in rural and remote areas, making up a significant proportion of social enterprises overall.
In the last census (2021), there were 1,277 social enterprises operating in the Highlands and Islands employing 7,228 full-time employees.
There is breadth and diversity of rural social enterprises, and they deliver social and economic benefits to their communities and contribute to the local economy.
Many social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands own assets and manage land, including estates and islands, harness renewable energy technologies, create employment, and provide an increasingly diverse range of essential services.
Other winners (see below for full list) include an organisation that provides innovative and adventurous learning experiences in schools and communities in Inverness, an education and training provider specialising in psychological trauma focusing on people with lived experiences in safe and nurturing environments and a group of charities and social enterprises that save quality furniture from landfill to create a more circular economy.
The awards, organised by Social Enterprise Scotland (SES), recognise excellence and outstanding achievements by social enterprises – businesses that reinvest their profits for social and environmental good – that demonstrate they’re improving and building a better economy and fairer society.
Chris Martin, CEO of SES, said: “From tackling the climate emergency to reducing homelessness, social enterprises are taking on some of the biggest challenges we face, using trade to change lives and protect the planet.
“The quality, variety, and mix of social enterprises who applied for this year’s awards were of a high standard making it a very difficult judging process. Thank you to all the previous winners and sponsors who methodically looked at every application.
“We were delighted by the volume of applications which were almost back to pre-pandemic levels, showing that social enterprises are weathering the storms of Covid and a cost of living crisis to deliver impact in their local communities.”
The Winners of the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2023 are:
Social Enterprise of the Year Award, supported by Gold Sponsor Keegan and Pennykid
This award is for a social enterprise that has demonstrated a clear vision, excellence in impact, customer service, and management, plus that little something extra in terms of creativity and innovation.
2023 Winner: Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company owns and operates the last manually operated turntable ferry in existence, from Glenelg on the mainland to Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye, across an ancient drover's route from the Hebrides. All profits are reinvested into preserving the historic vessel, ensuring the sustainability of the ferry service, and supporting other local community groups and events.
One to Watch Award, supported by Bold Studio
This award recognises a social enterprise that shows early potential and can clearly articulate their future vision, how they are going to achieve it, and how they will drive growth in their business.
Shortlist: Carrick Rugby Football Club (SCIO); Hike and Bike Hub Galashiels; Pride Outside CIC; Embers Aquatics CIC; Àban
2023 winner: Àban provides innovative and adventurous learning experiences in schools and communities in Inverness. It helps get the community out on positive adventures right on their doorstep meaning every penny raised goes to support their local charitable work.
Environmental Social Enterprise Award, supported by Circular Communities Scotland
The Social Enterprise Environmental Award is for a social enterprise that is making strides towards creating a better world for people and the planet with their social and environmental sustainability credentials and has demonstrated a clear, evidenced environmental impact.
2023 winner: Merry-go-round is a one stop shop and the first choice for families in Glasgow shopping second-hand. In 2022-2023 they rehomed 19 tonnes of goods, supporting 16,502 families to make sustainable choices. The shop is also a thriving and nurturing community hub for families to meet, learn, exchange ideas, and be supported. Last year 3,400 people attended 560 events. It runs wellbeing and support events as well as discussion groups, a sling library (promoting rental over new), nappucino’s (communicating benefits of reusable nappies), and more. It is partnered with 175 agencies in Glasgow to provide an average of 100 free packs of essential items per month to those facing hardships.
Building Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, & Justice Award, supported by Social Investment Scotland
This new award recognises that social justice is fundamental to the social enterprise movement. This category considers those social enterprises that are addressing issues around diversity, inclusion, and equity.
2023 winner: Resilience Learning Partnership is an education and training provider with a dual purpose. It supports the health, social care, education, housing and criminal justice sectors in trauma-informed practice. It informs learning and development through its work, ensuring that lived experience is considered in service design and public policy decision making areas in an authentic and meaningful way. As a lived experience led organisation, it influences positive changes across Scotland enabling services to better engage and support people with lived experience.
Health and Social Care Award, supported by Gold sponsor The ALLIANCE: The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
This award recognises organisations that deliver excellent support to their users and customers around a health and social care mission, including physical and mental health as well as wellbeing.
2023 winner: Macaulay College CIC is located on Macaulay Farm just outside Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Macaulay College provides people with additional social and educational requirements with a programme of activities that encourages them to have meaningful and fulfilling working and social lives.
Macaulay College helps people to reach their potential by supporting them at the earliest possible stage. The students mostly come through social work/education department referrals. Education strategies are developed with students to achieve their full potential and reach person specific targets that aim to enrich their working and social life. It supports people with a range of additional support needs including autism, Down’s syndrome and mental health issues.
Tech for Good, supported by Breeze Digital (a Community Enterprise Group social enterprise)
This new award recognises a social enterprise that is using technology to achieve its social impact. This could be through developing a new product or service or enhancing their service delivery.
2023 winner: Red Chair Highland Ltd focuses on digital inclusion services across the Highlands. It aims to improve digital inclusion and overall wellbeing and reduce isolation for vulnerable individuals including older adults, those on benefits, those recently released from prison, those suffering from substance misuse, refugees and those experiencing homelessness. By distributing devices and offering support, it hopes to improve people’s online access and strengthen their abilities. Its work is underpinned by a sustainable ethos, contributing to the circular economy by utilising refurbished devices.
Market Builder Award, supported by Social Enterprise Academy
This award is for a social enterprise, public sector body or private sector organisation that has demonstrably made efforts to create opportunities for social enterprises to grow their revenues and impact by tapping into supply chains and larger networks purchasing power.
2023 winner: Circular Communities Scotland Reuse Consortium offers local authorities, housing associations, and other public sector organisations easy access to a range of quality assured reuse furniture and white goods from local social enterprises, removing the need to go through a tendering process. Reuse Consortium members are circular charities and social enterprises that save quality furniture from landfill and create a more circular economy in Scotland. They provide social and environmental benefits through their work and make a difference in their local communities. By buying from the Reuse Consortium, customers support a fairer, more circular, and sustainable Scotland. The consortium’s vision is for reuse to be at the heart of procurement decisions across Scotland.
Social Enterprise Champion
This award celebrates an individual working in a social enterprise who goes above and beyond to make a difference, support the mission of the organisation and deliver impact.
Shortlist: Joyce Murray, CEO and founder, Positive Changes Scotland CIC; Lisa Gemmell, community and relationship mentor, Be-inn Unity CIC; Rachel MacPhail, employability coordinator, Inspiralba; and Rajkiran Atwal, general manager, Merry-go-round
2023 Winner: Lisa Gemmell, community and relationship mentor, Be-inn Unity CIC
Lisa joined Be-inn Unity as an employee in June 2022 to grow a new initiative with a new partner, Labert High School, as a community and relationship mentor. Lisa works with several groups of children and young people from the most deprived and challenging backgrounds.
Lisa has embodied the values of the organisation of curiosity, authenticity, respect and empathy, meeting young people she works with consistently with these values, at their developmental stages and offering complete safety in a relationship. Lisa quickly identified that the young people need more than just one relationship in the school community and quickly established other meaningful connections in their community, building a wider network that also offered the young people a deeper sense of purpose, connection, and belonging.
She noticed that she could bring even more to the role and wanted to continue supporting the overall learning experiences of the young people in the school community. This time involving the school staff, by delivering a range of learning programmes she designed, to help the adults understand mental health, adolescent brain development, and ways to connect with young people, giving the community more tools to engage with young people to support their overall development and education experience.
Lisa has now created a space within the school for young people and staff to connect called The Bothy. A social space for teachers and pupils to learn about and support their mental health.
Social Enterprise Volunteer Champion, supported by Volunteer Scotland
This new award celebrates an individual volunteering in a social enterprise who goes above and beyond to make a difference, support the mission of the organisation and deliver impact.
Shortlist: Cathy Costello, volunteer and trustee, Ayr Gaiety Partnership; Janie Conlon, tartan volunteer, Grassmarket Community Project; Sandra Hill, volunteer mentor, Positive Changes Scotland CIC; and Susan Muir, volunteer instructor and charity trustee, Kanzen Karate
2023 Winner: Janie Conlon, tartan volunteer, Grassmarket Community Project
Janie is an incredible young woman who works so hard at Grassmarket Community Project (GCP), becoming an inspiration to their staff, members, and volunteers, through her drive and commitment to build what is now their successful, profit-making Tartan Social Enterprise.
Working with their Members and other volunteers, many of whom are vulnerable adults who have no previous experience of sewing, she teaches, encourages and supports them to craft the range of quality items that are now in demand through their shop, online, VisitScotland and Edinburgh Castle.
Janie is dedicated to the success of the Tartan Workshop, working almost full time as a volunteer. She will spend time at home working on designs that she can then teach others to make, and will listen to others working with her, developing their ideas for new products. She is a perfectionist and instills this in others, embedding a sense of pride in all those involved in the project.
If it were not for Janie being so committed to the project, the Grassmarket Community Project would not have been able to open the Tartan Shop and Workshop which, after 10 months is now a profitable social enterprise. She works tirelessly to create new designs, teaches other volunteers and members to make these lovely products, and is an inspiring role model, overcoming her own personal challenges, to be that nurturing, kind and supportive ambassador for the GCP values.
All pictures courtesy of Open Aye C.I.C.