Grassmarket Community Project offers a variety of services and projects including a cafe, woodwork and textile workshops, and an events space, which provides opportunities for some of the most vulnerable in society. It differs in terms of innovation compared to other charities in their sector as they take both a community approach as well as a so-called asset approach to their way of working. This is something in which CEO Jonny Kinross says “not all charities are able to do because they don’t necessarily have a building”.
Not only this, key to Grassmarket Community Projects mission and the way in which they deliver their services is promotion of community spirit. It is about, accepting everyone and connecting people with their community, with Mr Kinross stating; “we eat together as a community and we share things as community”.
Fraser Kenneth Carle
Glasgow Caledonian University
Many charities provide fantastic services but don’t
ask for help from those they are helping. This is where the Grassmarket differs, in fact their approach is
to ask for something back from the very recipients that they have helped. This
way of working, is used in order to lift individuals up, making them feel
useful and giving them a purpose. Instead of considering their services as a
handout the Grassmarket Community Project consider it as more of “hand up
rather than a handout” which is a unique offering compared with other charities
in their sector.
This pioneering approach towards helping others, “sends a really strong and powerful message to individuals, particularly if they have low self-esteem, which most of them have.to say ‘I value you, I value the contribution that you can make to this project and to the lives of other people’”, this approach promotes ‘Good Health and Well-being’ across recipients.
Overall, the Grassmarket Community project offers an innovative and unique way of doing things through their community approach and their ability to support people in helping each other. Through their innovative thinking and approach to business, the Grassmarket Community Project is successfully contributing to a number of the highlighted SDG’s.
From Mr Kinross it was clear that he was a very motivated person to make a change within the environment around him and was also keen to inspire those who saw his work to follow his lead. He mentions during his interview frequently about the achievements of Grassmarket Community Project since he took control over managing the project and is clearly proud of this. He shows eagerness that the work of the project may inspire governments to make a change in several ways in which they work to allow social enterprises such as the Grassmarket community project to operate with more ability to help the community around them and the vulnerable people that the project supports. It was apparent to the group that Jonny is not driven by results in terms of key figures and mentions that many initiatives that aim to “get people into work in x amount of months” do not work and often fail – Mr Kinross is inspired and driven by what has already been achieved by the project and what can be gained in the future.
Grassmarket Community Projects innovative approach to their way of working is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing global problems that individuals and societies are facing. These include;
· Goal 1- No poverty
· Goal 2- Zero Hunger
· Goal 3- Good health and wellbeing
· Goal 4- Quality Education
· Goal 8- Decent Work and Economic Growth
Grassmarket Community Project has a massive impact on the community In which it is based. Firstly, every Monday the Grassmarket Community Project runs a soup kitchen and has done for many years – it is particularly aimed at those who are homeless and sleep rough. However, services are available to anyone who needs a helping hand. The Grassmarket supports individuals who are socially isolated, have mental health issues, those who have drug and or alcohol addictions and those have come out of the justice system. The café at the community project centre offers a “pay it forward scheme” whereby individuals can purchase someone who is in need, a meal –this service is proving popular. In turn this innovative way of business promotes the SDGs of no poverty, zero hunger as well as good health and wellbeing.
By taking away the pressure of people worrying about where their next meal will come from, the project enables individuals to unlock their potential. The project ensures no one goes hungry, over 8,500 meals have been provided to those in need. Jonny also makes a stark comment about the meals: “[They’re] all free and that’s about creating community and eating together and being together because food poverty is not just about where your next meal is coming from its about who you'll be eating it with”
Finally, Mr Kinross emphasises that the project focuses on enabling individuals to get “their lives back on track” and that in 2017, the project helped 42 people get into secure employment as a direct result of the services offered by Grassmarket. This meant that just under 10% of the project’s members were able to take the next step on their road to recovery.
Since the business fundraised “£2.5 million” and built the unique building it is in today, the project has a purpose-designed workshop, which has promoted business development. One of their main social enterprises, the woodwork workshop was able to “move from making school gifts in a porta cabin to making really high-end furniture” from recycled wood that has been donated to churches all over the UK. Mr Kinross says that “they have a wonderful niche market and rarely, does that furniture cost less than £500”. It is apparent that the business is benefitting financially from these developments, and this has enhanced the opportunities for individuals in terms of skills development and employment, promoting positive change for people and communities. In addition, the profits can be invested back into the project.
Individuals are mentored and provided with the resources they require to develop essential skills required for the world of work through IT and Woodwork workshops as well as cooking classes and mentoring programmes. These types of programmes have provided individuals with certified qualifications, which has enhanced their confidence and ability to work outside the project when they feel ready. These types of workshops provided by Grassmarket, make a successful contribution to Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth. Mr Kinross further promotes ‘Quality Education’ through facilitating “funded trainees [programmes] like government schemes and modern apprenticeships” throughout the project.
Grassmarket Community Project has helped over 500 people in the last year through the varying services and opportunities they provide to their members. Additionally, the project employs 31 staff in which 60% of them have support needs. By doing this, the project is successfully contributing the achievement of more than one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
In terms of the project’s environmental benefits, before the new building was designed, the land on which it was built “was all waste ground and a brownfield site”. The project developed the waste land into a “high quality space” which now incorporates their “biggest, most lucrative, social enterprise, the events space”. The events space was acquired at a “premium price” generating income for project which can be re-invested whilst utilising what was previously deemed waste land.
Finally, Mr Kinross emphasises how open the project is to new business ideas and how outward thinking they are. He recalls that recently a group of students from a local university approached the project and enquired about the possibility of starting to produce honey – immediately Mr Kinross took this idea on saying that the roof of their building is ideal for it and he knows the members of the project will engage with bee keeping. He also mentions how important bees are to the environment. He explains how the species is currently under threat, yet are responsible for the pollination of a significant proportion of the food we eat. Again, this innovative thinking, adds to the project’s meeting of several UN SGD’s highlighted throughout this case.
Jonny Kinross, CEO
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Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Business Website: http://grassmarket.org/
Year Founded: 2010
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Grassmarket Community Project is a Social Enterprise, based in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh City Centre. Grassmarket Community Project has been both a registered charity and company for 6 years, with previously the work being delivered by Grayfriars Kirk, a church located behind the building, as part of the churches outreach mission. Both the Grassmarket Community Project and Grey friars Kirk church have a long history of supporting the community members in need. Grassmarket Community Project creates supports those in need, is by asking for help from the very people they are helping, thus involving those people in the community, portraying the message to say
‘I value you, I value the contribution that you can make to this project and to the lives of other people’.
The innovate and unique way that Grassmarket Community Project is so successful by supporting people by helping each other. Grassmarket Community Project is most a self-funding enterprise by raising around 70% of their income through numerous projects and the remaining 30% of the income from donations and charitable trusts. The funding raised by Grassmarket Community Project itself is through projects such as their cafes, events space and woodwork shop. All these projects depend on work from volunteers and from members of the project, which is a way that they help back. With Grassmarket being a unique and innovative social enterprise and charity there is potential for it to be something big being winners of the Social Enterprise of the year 2017.