Scotland’s largest city Glasgow is often mistakenly overlooked by tourists in preference for nearby capital Edinburgh. Despite the negative stereotypes that are still sometimes associated with the city, anyone that’s spent any time here will no doubt agree with the city’s slogan – “People Make Glasgow”.
It has a fascinating history, amazing architecture and a vibrant art and music scene. It is also home to a growing number of social enterprises, including the editorial headquarters of The Big Issue UK and the international headquarters of INSP (the International Network of Street Papers, which The Big Issue is a member of along with over 100 similar independent publications that operate on a social enterprise model). Read on to find out more…
The Big Issue was launched in the UK in London in 1991. Two years later, The Big Issue in Scotland was launched. Now a national weekly magazine, the editorial headquarters are in Glasgow. It has a circulation of around 125,000 and currently works with around 2,000 vendors across the UK.
The Big Issue is a social enterprise and a “street paper” – an independent magazine or newspaper that is bought at a percentage of the cover price by homeless, marginalised or disadvantaged people who become micro-entrepreneurs selling the magazine on and keeping the profits.
The Big Issue also runs The Big Issue Invest – the social investment arm of The Big Issue. The Big Issue Invest helps to scale-up social enterprises and charities by providing finance (not grants) from unsecured loans to equity investment.
Social Bite – “Good food for a good cause”
“A sandwich shop with a difference” Social Bite opened its first shop in Edinburgh in 2012. It counts amongst its supporters Hollywood stars George Clooney and Leonardo di Caprio. There are now five shops across Scotland, two in Edinburgh, two in Glasgow and one in Aberdeen. 100% of profits goes towards solving social problems and a quarter of its workforce was once homeless.
Social Bite also runs a suspended coffee and food programme giving customers the opportunity to buy a hot drink and/or food for a homeless person to have when they come in later.
Earlier this year (2016), Social Bite received £550,000 from the lottery to support its new initiative the Social Bite Academy and Social Bite Founder Josh Littlejohn recently launched Brewgooder – “a craft beer label that gives back”. 100% of its profits will be donated to clean water projects around the world with the tagline “Drink Beer Give Water”.
Most recently Social Bite has been in the news for its plans to build the Social Bite Village. In partnership with Edinburgh City Council, Social Bite will construct 10 purpose-built houses as part of a supervised “village” that will provide access to counselling, addiction therapy and other support. Accommodation will be provided for up to a year before residents move on to more permanent accommodation. Read more in this Guardian article.
Recent winner of the “One To Watch” Social Enterprise Scotland award, Freedom Bakery is an artisan bakery based at the prison HMP Low Moss near Glasgow. It is also the first social enterprise to be established within a prison in Scotland.
Launched in 2015, Freedom Bakery is a non-profit community interest company (CIC) that trains and develops the skills of people in custody who learn on the job. Its philosophy focuses around sustainable employment as it is proven to significantly reduce reoffending. According to Freedom Bakery, “For every person with a conviction who can stay in employment the Scottish taxpayer is saved £940,000 per individual.”
Customers buying online are also given a “suspended bread” opportunity (similar to Social Bite’s suspended coffee and food programme), where they can order an extra loaf to donate to Glasgow City Mission’s soup kitchen for homeless people.
Stockist of Freedom Bakery bread MILK Café is a social enterprise that provides training, employment, support and a safe environment for ethnic minority women in Glasgow. MILK also provides support with English language, interview skills, form filling and personal development. MILK aims to help people “move on” to employment using the skills, experience and support they gained while at the café.
The Common Grind is a mobile coffee bar that caters at functions, events and markets. Recently spotted at the Glasgow Farmers’ Market in the West End, 100% of its profits help to improve the lives of homeless people and the environment. And its coffee is delicious!
Soul Food Sisters (SFS) is a multicultural, women-only not-for-profit food collective that provides high-quality catering for meetings and events in Glasgow. Based in Govanhill, where over 50 languages are spoken, SFS aims to end isolation and empower migrant women from the local community to develop their skills and talent in the kitchen and beyond!
Glasgow Wood Recycling is “committed to reducing the amount of wood needlessly going to landfill by finding creative and socially inclusive ways to reuse this valuable natural resource.” Wood waste is collected from around Glasgow and then reused to make quality furniture and bespoke pieces. They specifically choose to use the word “reuse” instead of “recycle” when talking about what they do with the wood as reuse is more environmentally friendly as it doesn’t use the breakdown and re-manufacturing processes that recycling does.
Established in 2006, Glasgow Wood Recycling is a social enterprise and registered charity that not only has an environmental mission but also provides local people with training and volunteer opportunities with the aim of helping to tackle unemployment and social exclusion.
The shop sells a wide range of products including planters, raised beds, indoor and outdoor furniture, timber and firewood, as well as offering a bespoke design service “from inspiration to implementation”.
Merry-Go-Round Glasgow is a children’s boutique selling pre-loved children’s goods at low prices. It also runs a wide range of events from music and drama classes to breastfeeding support and cloth nappy information. Merry-Go-Round is a social enterprise and registered charity dedicated to helping local families. Its work focuses on three main aims: 1) to save local families money by offering great children’s goods at low prices, 2) to support local families in need with free goods and 3) to provide employment and volunteering opportunities in the local community.
Established in 1984, Project Ability is a Glasgow-based visual arts organisation. It creates opportunities for people with disabilities and people with mental health issues, aged 5-80+, to express themselves and achieve “artistic excellence”.
Over three hundred people each week take part in their year-round programme of workshops, events and exhibitions that are held at its centre in Trongate 103 and in community venues throughout the city.
Project Ability works in partnership with people with disabilities and their support agencies across the UK and develops local, national and international art projects, creating opportunities for people to network, share their practice and exhibit their work.
Locavore is a Glasgow-based social enterprise dedicated to local food and making our food system more sustainable. Since it was established in 2011, Locavore has opened a shop, developed a market garden and established a veg box scheme. It also teaches cookery and runs other projects to raise awareness of food issues and food sustainability.
Locavore’s Good Food Fund was set up to provide an alternative to traditional food banks. It uses cash donations to provide fresh food and cupboard staples to help people in the community who are in need of emergency food aid.