Scotland All Strong
Scotland All Strong is a social enterprise that encourages a blended approach to improvement and self-management of mental health. They provide and promote physical activity, mindful relaxation, peer exchange, and support as powerful tools to benefit overall wellbeing.
We had a chat with Andrew Douglas, founder of Scotland All Strong, to find out more about his social enterprise journey.
What inspired you to set up Scotland All Strong?
We felt that there was a significant gap in the fitness, sport, and wellbeing industries: putting improved and self-managed mental wellbeing as the primary goal and ongoing aim, rather than weight loss, body transformation, aesthetics, performance, or competition goals.
Based on our own vast lived experience of mental health and recovery, traditional gym and sporting environments are not well set up for people with mental health conditions. We also felt that a vital peer element was being overlooked and that other tools, such as simple relaxation techniques, when used in conjunction with a small peer group and progressive outlook, create a powerful blended approach.
What did you find most challenging in setting up?
We found that getting our brand mission across took a lot of time. As did securing funding to deliver projects with just an idea and no track record. We were fortunate that a few organisations, now great partners, met with us to learn more, and arranged hugely successful programmes for their service users.
How has Firstport helped you?
Ray and the whole team at Firstport believed in our vision and were able to support us in the beginning and through our ongoing development.
What are your plans for the future of Scotland All Strong?
Having recently received a National Lottery grant to build a community peer support app, we plan to develop this to deliver our brand mission; to engage and enthuse anyone, anywhere, to use our blended approach.
In addition to this, we secured a loan from Social Investment Scotland before lockdown to expand our physical capacity with a brilliantly equipped open gym, which will add a balancing commercial element to our already outstanding social impact. We then plan to replicate our physical model throughout Scotland and beyond, with the community app driving the message before us!
Reflecting on your journey, do you have any advice for other social entrepreneurs?
For us, it was a case of ‘leap and the net will appear.’ Starting a social enterprise has been one of the most profound journeys of my life so far. Looking back I can say that- although we’re not there yet- all the days, weeks, and months of struggle, of scraping by, the constant dealing with doubt and debt, was not only worth it, but an essential part of our process. It has allowed us to further build resilience, confidence, belief, and skills, as an organisation and individuals.
Stay open and adapt according to the flow of things, and if you feel an idea – make it happen!
Find out more at Scotland All Strong’s website.