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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.

Events is an area that young people can thrive in

This opinion piece is over 6 years old

Forth Valley Social Enterprise (FVSE) chairman Matt McGrandles looks at what has been achieved in the five years since the organisation was founded, and the challenges it faces in organising the Stirling Highland Games and corresponding events

Essentially FVSE came about because of what I had experienced. I believe that to have a positive learning experience it has to be inclusive. It should have a practical element rather than being sat in a classroom being talked at - I didn’t excel in that environment.

FVSE is based around providing young people with a practical course but also trying to fully embed work skills in the people we work with. There were other people doing similar things, but at FVSE we aim to provide it all under one roof.

It started when I approached the Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, who put me in contact with some people in Falkirk who help the third sector. We spent a day mapping out what it was I wanted to do. We put down everything that was in my head and then looked at how it could be taken forward.

Matt McGrandles
Matt McGrandles

I then contacted Senscot, we went through the processes, and set up as a community interest company. It all went from there really. We got a European Social Fund (ESF) grant, and started work.

We have had to work off our own backs. Since the grant in 2014, we haven’t received any other funding. Everything we do is based on the funds we bring in from our main event which was the Stirling Highland Games, and has now become The Sruighlea Festival.

Our aim is to cover the cost of the festival, and get the gate receipts to make it sustainable. We have just delivered our fourth event, which raised £52,000 in income. Our aim is to get that nearer £80,000. We are still short of where we need to be, and it has been hard. But we want to keep putting on great events, and have targets to make them sustainable.

When we first started we had 10 young people who we were supporting in our core skills and events programme. But this year we had opportunities for up to 40 people, and our target is to support 90 a year. This year we have delivered two core skills and events programmes, and also a Walk and Talk programme to mark the Year of History, Heritage and Architecture. All of them were based around our main event, with young people getting the chance to help make it a success.

Events is a very engaging area, and continues to be a sector which can entice and excite. I think it provides an environment that young people want to work in.

We deliver an event on an annual basis, but it has to be adaptable. We always try and see what the type of events that people want to attend are, and ways that we can do things better.

We have really turned the event round and last year it had an economic impact of almost £380,000 for the area. There are a lot of people who visit the area for the festival, 40% of our visitors are from overseas.