Meet the innovators addressing the rising cost of living

Introducing the 2023 Social Innovation Challenge shortlist

The Social Innovation Challenge aims to support and enable innovative social enterprise solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time. In 2023, we invited solutions that address the rising cost of living for individuals and communities in Scotland. 

Applications to this Challenge were received from all over Scotland. These proposed varied solutions in response to the theme. From building sustainable food systems to community resilience building and from community wealth building to providing employment and upskilling workshops, the applications all had one thing in common: an intense passion and commitment to improving the lives of individuals, communities and the environment. 

Image of the people of Iona Energy
Last year’s winners: Iona Energy Ltd.

Despite a very challenging shortlisting process, three applications were selected for the next stage. The three shortlisted applicants have been invited to present to our Award Panel later in September.

The shortlisted projects are: 

  • Thrive (East Lothian) CIC: The rising cost of living has impacted many parents’/carers’ ability to access affordable childcare services, disproportionately affecting women and children. The current cost of living crisis means that the need for women to earn a fair income is higher, but high costs limit their ability. Thrive CIC aims to reduce socio-economical disadvantages to children and families by providing flexible and affordable quality childcare with core values of non-discriminatory, trauma-informed, and rights-based practice. Thrive CIC will encourage learning and education, provide employment opportunities, foster a sense of belonging and increased confidence within the community and live healthy lifestyles. 
  • Building Futures Galloway Ltd: The rural South Machars of Galloway has systemic youth unemployment and access deprivation and offers few cultural opportunities to young people. Building Futures Galloway, a new social enterprise, provides full-time sustainable employment to young people remote from the labour market, which consists of in-work training in heritage construction skills, such as masonry and architectural joinery. It also works with the local high school’s most vulnerable pupils to provide work experience and weekly sessions in these skills and improve academic performance, attendance and self-esteem.  

    The fledgling social enterprise now wishes to move forward to become an SQA-accredited centre in the next year, offering qualifications to young people who are without positive destinations and to the wider heritage sector, earning income from paid-for training courses to the public and contracting services for specialized repairs to historic buildings and historic boats, for both of which it has already begun to receive enquiries from private clients and trusts. To do this successfully in the long-term, they are now looking to grow their team and formalize their training offer. 
  • ApparelXchange C.I.C. has a vision of a connected and integrated clothing system for Glasgow that will address the financial impact of children’s clothing costs on families, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. By working in partnership with local authorities and other social enterprises, this system will provide a shared wardrobe for the city so that families can easily access high-quality preloved children’s clothing at highly affordable prices – or for free if they self-refer or are referred through partner organisations.  

    The project will generate income through the sale of clothing and payments from contracted services and agreements to provide clothing to their social partners. Formalising this clothing provision through the social circular economy is unique and the first system of its type in Scotland. It will be a replicable solution which could be rolled out across other cities and communities in Scotland and beyond, benefiting local service provision and budgets and proving that clothing system change in a city can lead to real, local social circular economy growth. 

The winner of the Social Innovation Challenge will be announced in early October. Keep an eye on our social media or sign up for our newsletter to be among the first to hear about the 2023 Social Innovation Challenge winner. 

Until then, we wish all the applicants good luck from all of us at Firstport!