The Ripple is a community led innovative organisation which utilises the skills and determination of its dedicated volunteers to offer continuous support for people within their local community.
The interviewee Rachel Green, director of The Ripple, describes the aim of this service as "helping people to help themselves".
The innovation contributes to SDG 3 - Good Health and Wellbeing; SDG 4 - Quality Education; and SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities.
Glasgow Caledonian University
The Ripple Project was established in 1996 as a church led organisation. They had one member of staff for ten years, they started projects that ran out of the McLaren church hall, there are still groups run there however the Ripple Project has grown over the years. They now have five staff, eighty volunteers and operate mainly out of the Restalrig community centre, which the Scottish Government helped to fund.
The main focus of their innovation is the 'Hub Grub Cafe', which allows members to meet frequently and enjoy each others company. The community cafe offers a variety of services, such as the daily lunch club for older people, multiple drop-in services for youths and a 60+ social club. Not only does this benefit the cafe customers, the volunteers gain valuable experience which enhances their existing skills and develop new ones that can be transferred into future job prospects.
Although the basis of the Ripple is the 'Hub Grub Cafe', they also offer a variety of activities and services to their customers. Some of these are a toddler group, line dancing, walking groups, knitting, exercising, creative writing course, digital support groups and a foot-care service.
Core funding for the Ripple Project, in terms of the premises, is from the Edinburgh integration and joint board, which focuses on the health, social care and inequalities of individuals. They also receive funding from Edinburgh City Council, Robertson Trust Funding and Wellbeing Alliance.
Restalrig, Lochend and Craigentinny are amongst the most deprived areas of Scotland, facing challenges such as; poverty, health and social inequalities. These neighbourhoods were left behind by more prosperous areas, for example, Leith and Portobello. Therefore, there was a clear need in demand for change and support. As a result, The Ripple was created to focus on these areas, by the community, for the community.
In the beginning, The Ripple did not have access to a lot of resources or funding, therefore, they had to be innovative and creative with what they had. The director of The Ripple, Rachel Green highlighted that the basis of the organisation is quite simple, people saw a need for improvement and wanted to do something about it. The Ripple aimed to provide the fundamental foundations for social change, giving the beneficiaries the confidence and opportunity to make the groups their own. The inspiration behind the services that The Ripple now offer was that, initially they were organisation led, transitioning into self sustaining operations, therefore meeting the aim of 'Helping people to help themselves'
The Ripple recognised that many of the issues which the local people faced stemmed from social isolation, making it a main focus of the organisation. Therefore the 'Hub Grub Cafe' was created, providing a safe space in which members of the community could access at their leisure. Rachel Green stated; “[The Hub Grub Café is] the most visible, public facing and it’s the one that creates the most income… You can do most things through the café, you could have a cooking club, we have a lady who comes in and bakes cakes which we sell and there is something about bringing people together to eat which is very rewarding”
Health inequalities stand as the most prominent issue that The Ripple seeks to tackle. Social isolation exists in the masses in the Restalrig area and is unfortunately increasing. The Ripple uses their ability to identify the current needs in the community and implements relevant projects to bring those in need together. Their long-lasting operation demonstrates their success in tackling this. Overall, being a comfort zone or safe space for members of the community to come and speak to someone is often enough to scratch the surface of the social isolation issue.
The Ripple Youth Service offers educational benefits to a range of young people. Supportive workshops and activities are offered in an inclusive manner which allows those who may not engage as well in a school setting, receive relevant support. The regular and growing attendance is proof of this success.
A transformational vs. transactional approach is taken through their operations. Although difficult to place quantitative figures on the matter, they are transformational in the sense that they can bring those who would not normally interact with others and the most vulnerable into a community where they are able to tackle their different needs. The mission is not about helping the poor but to help people help themselves.
A more transactional point is that they offer meals to those involved in their clubs which means people are fed. They also integrate supported employment through their café and bus driver. This not only puts people in valuable and paid work but maintains the rewarding aspect which keeps people coming back.
Due to the successful progression of this community led project when it took over Restalrig Community Centre, this led to the increase from one staff member to five, eighty volunteers and an annual turnover of approximately 330k. In 2018 they had an annual expenditure of roughly 295k. With the reputation and influence that the Ripple has they are able to facilitate and be flexible with the needs of the community. The director of the project, Rachel Green, has a can do attitude where no is never an option.
With the relocation of The Ripple Project to the Restalrig Community Hub, endless opportunities were created - which is where the Hub Grub Café was born. Innovating on the old structural roots they turned a small kitchen into the bustling café that it is today. The Hub Grub Café could be described as the heart of the organisation as everything they do operates from or around it.
In addition to the café, The Ripple publishes a community newspaper, 'The Speaker' which details everything that the organisation does. The newspaper is delivered to 6500 people and it is a platform which facilitates the promotion of services that The Ripple has to offer. It also allows businesses within the community to advertise themselves. Not only does this create revenue for The Ripple, it creates awareness local news.
The Ripple has been providing a multitude of benefits to society and the environment in many ways. Firstly, two community link workers were welcomed to the programme to support individuals with a range of local and non-medical services thus reducing the demand of GP appointments and NHS waiting times whilst helping the non-medical needs of individuals that require the assistance. This initiative benefits society as the role of these workers is to enable such patients to overcome barriers to allow for greater control of their health and well-being through supportive consultations.
Secondly, drop in sessions were organised allowing for individuals to meet with the local police during drop-in sessions. This simply allowed for those who needed it to see another face that provided a feeling of safety within the community, especially those more vulnerable.
Knowledge is also transferred to those who visit The Ripple through the Grantor Information Centre where appointments are arranged at the Hub where information is given regarding benefits, welfare rights, housing and debt advice. By transferring this knowledge, individuals are more aware of these services and can find the available options best suited to aid them.
Additionally, through programmes such as the Buddy Service, the Café and the Open Access Youth Work programme, youths are given a sense of belonging and empowerment with a boost of confidence to come out of social isolation through the simplest method of making a friend with over 211 fitness sessions being held. Along with this, 18 super seniors experienced opportunities to enjoy over 40 trips. A lunch club was also organised serving over 1700 freshly cooked meals thus tackling the core issues of social isolation and hunger. Significance efforts were made to tackle social isolation and this was evident as a result of over 80% of individuals feeling more confident since attending The Ripple.
Not only is society benefited from the work of The Ripple, but the environment also benefits as a result of The Ripple working with Fair Share, an organisation set up to reduce food wastage by selling excess produce at the cheapest price. This helps to reduce food wastage, whilst feeding the hungry at the cheapest possible price.
In summary, the Ripple provides a sense of belonging and empowerment to society whilst tackling environmental concerns such as food wastage in the process.
Rachel Green, Director
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Business Website: http://rippleproject.co.uk/about-us/
Year Founded: 1996
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Working with the local people in community-led projects in improving the quality of life for individuals of all ages by providing a "hand up not a hand out". The Ripple delivers a wide range of projects to help the local community with the help of over 80 volunteers.