Creating a Contribution to Society

Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI)

3. Good Health and Well-Being 4. Quality Education


  • Provides life-changing opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities and mental-health issues.
  • Combines two business forms: a commercially-oriented social enterprise and a charity.


Shannon McNish

Shannon McNish

Gayle Smith

Gayle Smith

Adele Maxwell

Adele Maxwell

lloyd Messenger

lloyd Messenger


Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian University


Alec Wersun

Alec Wersun


CCI Scotland is based on an innovative business model using an asset, people-based approach that combines two business forms: a commercially-orientated social enterprise, and a charity. A distinguishing feature is that the social enterprise CCI Scotland generates surpluses in order to develop the charitable arm, CCI. The business model offers employees and stakeholders a choice on the degree to which they wish to be involved.

The social enterprise provides landscaping solutions, in the form of small to medium sized projects across central Scotland, which aims to deliver high quality at an affordable price. The innovation provides opportunities for individuals with mental-health and learning disabilities to work alongside experienced construction workers (akin to apprentices) to develop creative and practical skills, thereby boosting their confidence by feeling involved, contributing to their community, and enhancing future employability prospects. Examples of projects are:

  • Langloch farm (Lanark) – where grounds were renovated in order to create a courtyard with sandstone seating and planting. This provides an open space for all users.
  • NHS Hospital Cleland (South Lanarkshire) – where they constructed walling, seating, hard and soft landscaping areas, along with living willow features. This was all designed around the needs of the patients and the local village theme ideas.
  • James Gillespie Primary School (Edinburgh) – where they provided an adventure playground for Edinburgh City Council. The final outcome included bespoke street furniture, climbing structures, living willow tunnels and domes, sandpits and climbing walls.

The statement below illustrates how the mission of the social enterprise goes hand in hand with the mission/ purpose of the charity, which are both built on the notion of everyone being able to make a contribution.

“They had to buy into the idea that social enterprise, and the point of selling stuff, was to make sure that every activity had a definable contribution {impact} at the end of it”. Niall McShannon (Managing Director of CCI)

Creating a Contribution to Society


The overall inspiration for the owner being involved in a social enterprise was through his personal belief and dedication to social justice and fairness, and a desire to contribute to the community and help those who are more vulnerable. Through his career as a social worker, Niall realised that business in the form of social enterprise could offer more than the standardised and limited range of activities offered by public services to those with learning disabilities and mental health issues. He felt there was an opportunity to support these groups to widen their employability and social skills by enabling them to participate in placements that offered practical based work skills, which current activities for vulnerable young people, such as swimming and bowling, were not providing them with. This allowed them to further or open up career prospects.

This social enterprise contributes to achievement of UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development on a local level as follows:

  • SDG 3 “Good health and well-being” as Niall is improving their health and well-being of disadvantaged groups through purposeful work.
  • SDG 4 “Quality education” as those who are involved in this enterprise are acquiring and developing skills that will enhance their employability, quality of life, and life chances.

“Well again the specific beneficiaries would be the participants improving their health and developing their skills and then a proportion of them would use this as an opportunity to move back into the world of work”. Niall McShannon (Managing Director of CCI)

Overall impact

CCI Scotland is the social enterprise which feeds into its charitable arm CCI, in order to generate income. This then develops the charity by allowing Niall and his board of directors to provide more opportunities for their participants and also the community.

CCI Scotland provides income for the business, which is then used for the establishment of further projects which all in some way provide a contribution to the community they live in. By participating in the various placement opportunities offered by CCI, this enables the individuals involved to integrate and work in dynamic teams with a range of abilities, as well as being recognised for their contributions and not their disabilities, which not only benefits them but their community also. The work from the projects has allowed for quite a few community assets to be created or maintained, for example: school playgrounds, NHS hospital grounds, planting schemes and private gardens. Placements are offered to people with learning disabilities and autism, mental health issues, vulnerable young people and others facing challenging social disadvantages. Currently, there are 58 individuals taking part in these placements who average about one and a half days each a week in terms of their participation, with the hope of expanding over the next year. Through being supported to take part in a wide range of community and enterprise projects, individuals are empowered to substantially and sustainably improve their health, well-being, self-confidence and to develop social and vocational skills.

It would seem reasonable to say that the impact this social enterprise has on society is impressive. The health and well-being of participants measured 51.2% on Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) which measures mental well-being in 5 response categories: feeling cheerful, interested in new things, make up your own mind, feeling relaxed and feeling optimistic, compared to 49.9% of the Scottish population. Further to this 25% of participants moved onto employment, 54% moved onto other volunteering and 42% moved into further training or education. These figures show that the impact the innovation has on the individuals involved in a sense helps to transform them as it provides them with opportunities that they may never would have had the chance of receiving.

“I would say about 40-45% of the people employed in it are people who have previously had long-term issues and barriers to employment.” Niall McShannon (Managing Director of CCI)

Business benefit

CCI Scotland currently has an estimated annual turnover of £300,000 which directs its profits into its charitable arm, CCI. This turnover is on track to double in the next year due to recently securing a major contract with Esh Borders Construction to work on a ten-week playground fit out. The charity and social enterprise combined have 20 permanent employees and 58 participants overall. Of the 20 employees, roughly half are people who have previously had long-term issues and barriers to employment. Participants on average continue on placements for a period of a year, 20% of these individuals move onto mainstream employment, however, those with more complex disabilities tend to remain for a longer period of time.

Niall as Managing Director was responsible for preparing the business plan to help enable funding and drive the social enterprise forward. He also had the support of a Board of Directors who were on-hand to assist in the strategic decisions that would eventually lead to investing some of the charity’s money into the commercial venture that CCI Scotland has become. The charity, CCI received funding from various sponsors such as: The Robertson Trust, The Clothworkers Foundation, SSE, Garfield Weston Foundation, with primary funding being given by The Big Lottery Fund and European Regional Development Fund. Profits made from the construction side of the social enterprise are reinvested back into the charity in order to develop and maintain current and future innovative projects.

The social enterprise status is seen as a platform, especially during the start-up stage, Niall says “to get you started you will get an element of deals that are based on the social impact” which leads to attracting customers to help grow your business. A small number of customers are prepared to “give you some leeway in terms of developing your skills and capacity” and although quality or value may be similar to other businesses, the time taken for completion may take longer than average. The social benefit that customers witness within this social enterprise seems to outweigh this in their decision to buy your product or service.

The work at CCI Scotland to develop the skills and opportunities for individuals with a range of support needs is exceedingly beneficial at creating value and innovation within society. This is valuable in helping to ensure that the business is commercially viable which is often seen as a difficult task.

However, there are future aspirations and a business plan in the process to expand the enterprise within the next year to more national locations throughout Scotland and even the UK. This future expansion will provide benefits to more than just the local community by reaching a wider range of individuals and may even lead to further growth in the future.

Social and environmental benefit

From a social aspect this enterprise provides an opportunity for those with mental health issues and disabilities to regain their confidence at getting back into work. Although for some with more complex needs volunteering at CCI Scotland “this is their work, although they don’t get paid for it, it gives them a sense of purpose and contribution.” This reinforces the value that contribution brings within this enterprise and gives young adults with special needs a sense of belonging in their community.

This social enterprise has offered many direct and indirect employment opportunities to these young people by enhancing their employability and vocational skills. Out of the 58 participants, 47% have moved into further education, training, employment or volunteering, of this 20% have gained mainstream employment. Therefore, Niall’s innovative creation has benefited vulnerable young people to improve their mental health by feeling engaged and contributing to their community.

Social enterprises, with their focus and concern on community engagement, are seen as pivotal to the advancement of social and environmental innovation in support of sustainability.


Niall McShannon, Managing Director

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Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI)

Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI)

Lanark, UK

Business Website:

Year Founded: 2002

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Niall established CCI as a charity in 2002 in order to open up exciting life opportunities for young people at risk, and adults suffering from mental health issues, so they could make a contribution to the society. In 2010, communicated and established his concept of empowering disadvantaged people in to a social enterprise, which has resulted in what CCI Scotland has become today. The mission of the social enterprise focuses on the idea of everyone in society being able to make a contribution to society.