Recently we went on a study visit to Bute as part of the Glasgow Social Enterprise Network (GSEN). Along with five other GSEN members we set off from Glasgow Central on the train to Wemyss Bay before being transported across the Firth of Clyde courtesy of CalMac on the MV Bute.GSEN_Logo

The visit was hosted by the Argyll & Bute Social Enterprise Network, which exists to support Argyll and Bute’s thriving social enterprises and whilst therre we were able to network with about a dozen ABSEN members.

Visiting other organisations whilst in the company of people from other organisations is a great way of learning and helping to develop your own organisation. Taking time away from your day-to-day situation allows you to re-frame and review your own situation whilst learning from what others are doing.

GSEN members heading for the ferry at Wemyss Bay station

GSEN members heading for the ferry at Wemyss Bay station

Fellow GSEN members that attended the visit were:

  • Glasgow Locavore – based in the south side of Glasgow which exists to take forward projects and initiatives which contribute to the creation of sustainable local food economies.
  • WASPS Artist Studios – is a charity that provides affordable studios to support artists and arts organisations. They currently house 650 artists and 22 arts organisations at 19 buildings across Scotland including The Briggait.
  • LINK Housing Association – is one of the largest housing associations in Scotland.  It has a presence in East, Central and West Scotland, and the Highlands.
  • FARE Scotland – a grassroots charity operating from Easterhouse which aims to improve life in the community by offering activities to lift people’s aspirations, enhance their standard of living, and tackle territorialism and anti-social behaviour.

Whilst in Bute we heard first hand from the following organisations and projects:

  • Fyne Futures – Fyne Futures aim to deliver social, employment, educational,
    GSEN members on a tour of Bute Produce

    GSEN members on a tour of Bute Produce

    environmental and health benefits for the island. They deliver a wide range of projects and services and we were able to visit:

    • we visited the 6 acre farm where Bute Produce is based.
    • we visited their recycling centre and bio-diesel operation
    • and we were driven from location to location in the Car Bute Community Car Club vehicles which run on 50% bio-diesel
  • Achievement Bute – a charity that provides support to children with additional support needs and their families. They also organise trips, clubs and events for all children.
  • HELP Ltd – an award winning organisation that provides a housing support service for sixteen to twenty five year olds.
  • Argyll Training, who deliver industry recognised and vocational qualifications to individuals and organisations throughout Argyll. Their centres are also approved to offer training using Individual Learning Accounts.
  • Speed networking with a further 6 ABSEN members

Whilst there are various challenges which affect the organisations in Argyll including a declining

GSEN members in the Achievement Bute garden

GSEN members in the Achievement Bute garden

population, transport and logistical challenges especially in bad weather, they are extremely resourceful and are able to pull together to deliver a wide range of inspirational (and often award winning) services. In addition they also share a lot of similar challenges including:

  • trying to generate more income and secure additional funding in a challenging economic climate
  • a move away from annual grants to services being put out to tender
  • increasing operational costs and overheads such as fuel and heating
  • recruiting volunteers including board members.

Thanks to Glasgow and Argyll and Bute Social Enteprise Networks for organising and hosting the visits.

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