Scottish high street regeneration project celebrates award success

A project which helped young entrepreneurs start their own social enterprises and revive Glasgow’s high streets has won the latest in a series of prestigious awards.

Beyond the Finish Line scooped the Inspiring Youth category of the UK Social Enterprise 2014 awards at a glittering ceremony in London, hosted by comedian Sue Perkins.

The programme also won the same category in the Social Enterprise Scotland awards, both the judges and public awards at the Lighthouse Design Impact Awards and was shortlisted for the SURF awards for best practice in community regeneration. 

Co-ordinated jointly by Firstport and Icecream Architecture and supported by the Big Lottery Fund, Beyond the Finish Line used the momentum of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the imagination of Glasgow’s young people to find social enterprise solutions to high street and town centre decline.

The young people aged between 16 and 24 went through a rigorous selection process to receive up to £2014 funding, one-to-one business support and mentoring from industry experts. They also got free workspace in a refurbished incubator in Glasgow’s Trongate which became a hub of creative activity as they prepared to open for business during the Games. The successful enterprises were showcased at a celebration event at the Lighthouse, Glasgow last night. (Tuesday 9 December).

Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Beyond the Finish Line has won these awards. A year ago we asked Glasgow’s young people to come up with inspiring initiatives to tackle social problems in their local communities and they rose to the challenge. 

“The end result is ten social enterprises working on Glasgow’s high streets, creating real social impact and footfall to other local businesses. They range from fashion design and furniture upcycling to confidence workshops and community cinema – emphasising our belief that thriving high streets are about more than just retail outlets.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of the Big Lottery Fund, who saw the potential of the idea, of how it could bring a fresh approach to tackling social issues, engaging with young people and regenerate local areas. Thanks also go to our inspiring mentors who helped to guide our Challengers on their journeys.”

Feedback about the practical and moral support the young people received has been really positive. Hollie Russell of Little Book Transfers, said: “Each week we had set objectives and deadlines which kept us focused. The most valuable experience of all is the people we have met and networked with and the other creatives that we have bounced ideas with. It was a very encouraging and welcoming environment.”