A total of £80,000 has been distributed to Dundee social entrepreneurs over the past four years through a strategic partnership between national funding body, UnLtd, and Dundee-based social enterprise, The Circle. This funding was awarded through UnLtd’s Resilient Communities programme, a project which aimed to support and work with social entrepreneurs to build resilient and enterprising communities in areas throughout the UK.
Through the People’s Postcode lottery, grants have been awarded in South Wales Valleys, North Staffordshire, Brighton and Dundee. Grants were also awarded in 19 other areas of the UK through Local Trust.
The Circle partnered with UnLtd to become an anchor organisation in 2017 after their Founder and CEO, Kirsty Thomson received funding from them. Through this partnership The Circle identified potential awardees and hosted a number of events including award pitching panels, peer support sessions with awardees and learning journeys where social entrepreneurs from across the UK visited Dundee to find out more about the community and the projects working to improve the local area.
“Being an anchor organisation for the Resilient Communities programme has been a terrific opportunity for us. We’ve connected with so many different organisations and the knowledge we gained from working with the programme’s awardees has helped us develop the way we support our clients and the local community.”
The work The Circle did with these social entrepreneurs has also influenced their pioneering learning programme The Circle Academy. The Circle believe this programme is long overdue not only in the third sector but across all organisations. Candidates on The Circle Academy learn practical, realistic skills which makes them more enterprising and forward thinking, helping their organisations to grow.
UnLtd Award Manager, Eileen Inglis says,
“Working in partnership with The Circle has allowed UnLtd to support social entrepreneurs in Dundee who we otherwise wouldn’t have found. The partnership has given us access to physical space where together we’ve run a range of successful events and has opened up wide ranging new networks for UnLtd in Dundee across the business and creative industries and the third sector. Despite this particular piece of work drawing to a close, UnLtd will continue working closely with The Circle and social entrepreneurs in Dundee.”
Over the past four years 19 individuals have received ‘Do It Awards’ of up to £5,000 towards the start-up costs for their ideas to improve their local community. Ideas that received funding included a patient-led cancer support network, a clothing bank for children and families and a re-usable cup network project aiming to reduce the use of single-use packaging.
Jillian Elizabeth received a Do It Award through the programme in 2019 for her zero-waste shop, The Little Green Larder,
“The award has really benefited me and my business. I was lucky enough to receive this funding in our first year of running and it helped me grow the shop; we expanded our product range and were able to buy more equipment so we could offer even more products to our customers plastic free.
We recently qualified for a top up grant which we are going to use to introduce a new sustainable delivery service with an electric van. This means that we can deliver our sustainable products to customers who may not be able to visit the shop.”
The Resilient Communities programme has now drawn to a close but UnLtd still offer funding awards to people who are working to benefit people living in the UK. You can find out more about their funding at www.unltd.org.uk
The Circle is a hub for charities, social enterprises, community groups and socially aware businesses in Dundee.