Four Scottish social entrepreneurs end the year on a high with a share of an £80,000 award

December 18, 2015

Four Scottish social entrepreneurs have shared a total of £80,000 funding after receiving awards from Firstport, Scotland’s start up social enterprise development agency.

 The ambitious entrepreneurs’ ventures include a baby and children pre-loved boutique, a business offering professional work placements to young unemployed people, a pre-loved goods superstore and an enterprise supporting people with hoarding disorder.

As social enterprises, all of these businesses have social or environmental goals. They aim to become financially sustainable and generate profits to re-invest in the cause they support.

Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport said:

2015 has been a fantastic year for social enterprises with now more than 5,000 social enterprises counted in Scotland*. It is great to support inspiring social entrepreneurs in their journey to help their communities and create more jobs. All four latest award winners have different social goals and illustrate the countless possibilities to “start something good".

The awards are part of Firstport’s “Build It” awards programme. It supports entrepreneurs who are looking to develop their existing social enterprise, with a proven record of making social impact while maintaining financial stability. The entrepreneurs can apply for up to £25,000 to grow their business. The awards are funded by the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund. As well as funding, Firstport provides one to one start up support and workshops through the Just Enterprise programme.

*Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015


The successful social entrepreneurs are:

Heather Royan, Babes in the Wood Pre-loved Boutique, Bishopbriggs, £25,000
Babes in the Wood recycles high quality but affordable baby and children goods to prevent them going to landfill.

Heather identified a gap in the market when she was running a sensory class for babies. She was constantly asked by parents if she knew of anywhere to donate baby goods; as charity shops in the area no longer accepted them. Meanwhile, many young families in the area struggle to afford quality baby goods, especially teenage mothers.
As well as reducing waste and benefitting the environment, this project supports low-income families in the area by enabling them to buy high-quality goods at a fraction of the retail price.

Heather’s long-term aim is to reinvest profits into creating a community space, to run subsidised classes and workshops. She is particularly passionate about reducing isolation for new mothers to combat post-natal depression. The award will help her fund staff cost and expand her premises.


Stephen Agyen, Try A Job, Glasgow, £20,000

Try a Job offers professional 4-6 weeks work placements to young people who are not in employment, education or training. The organisation works in partnership with local businesses and agencies like Jobcentre Plus to support 18-30 year olds living in areas of social deprivation.

Stephen has 10-years experience of voluntary work with young adults in Glasgow. He understands the true impact of the work placement and has personal experience of how valuable it can be.

Young people also have opportunities to get involved in working and volunteering at Try a Job through film making and production of the “Try a Job” magazine that is distributed through local job and community centres.

Stephen will use his award to fund staff members such as a project facilitator, youth mentor, to develop his advertising and marketing, buy equipment, insurances and desk space.


Mishal Francis, House of Hope Recycling Village, South Lanarkshire, £25,000

House of Hope Recycling Village is the largest superstore of pre-loved goods in Scotland. It provides alternatives to high interest credit by selling affordable white goods and furniture, while diverting these goods from landfill. Mishal hopes to advance the education of recycling in the local community.

House of Hope Recycling Village also offers the low skilled and long term unemployed the opportunity to gain experience, employability skills and increased self-confidence through volunteering. It has helped over 200 individuals and almost all of them have now moved to permanent jobs.

The social enterprise has diverted 100 tones of goods from landfill since May 2014 and has provided 1 072 individuals with low-cost furniture and household items.

The award will allow Mishal to work for House of Hope Recycling Village full time and also to hire part time administrative staff. House of Hope Recycling Village’s next project is an up-scaling workshop to create unique products through a combination of repair, redesign and decoration of second hand goods.


Linda Fay, Life-Pod, Edinburgh, £25,000

Life-Pod provides expert advice and practical support to people affected by hoarding disorder and other conditions resulting in chronic disorganisation. Hoarding Disorder affects an estimated 6% of the UK population.

As UK's sole certified Chronic Disorganisation Specialist and Hoarding Specialist, Linda identified a gap in the knowledge and understanding of the condition by practitioners who are expected to provide support. Life-Pod addresses this gap by providing a suite of learning materials to support sufferers and frontline practitioners, specifically those in housing, health and social care professions.

In 2014/15, Life-Pod provided support for 30 individual clients in their homes and delivered hoarding awareness training to over 700 professionals in housing, health and social care teams.

Linda is hoping that the award will enable her to work for Life-Pod full time. She will invest her time in developing bespoke accredited training courses and materials for the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland (CIH) and The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS).