Recognising people with a learning disability who are engaged in enterprise
I had an inspiring end to my week on Friday (17th May) when I attended the third annual Scottish Learning Disability Awards gala event, organised by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh.
A key part of Learning Disability Week, the Awards are a platform to celebrate the contribution of people with learning disabilities in their communities across Scotland. There were 8 Award Categories which were centred around this year’s Learning Disability Week theme of ‘Community – Active, Connected, Included‘, and over 100 nominations received across the 8 categories.
As Scotland’s largest social enterprise support agency, and a social enterprise ourselves, CEIS was delighted to support the Awards. In my role as a Business Adviser with CEIS’ Enterprise and Communities Team I was invited to join a judging panel of 3 in March this year to consider nominations for the Community Enterprise category and help present the category awards.
There was real range and contrast in the nominations with varying emphasis on product/ service development, skills development, personal challenges faced, community benefits, and plans for enterprise growth. Narrowing it down to a final 2 involved a lot of discussion but, for me, both finalists demonstrated a strong customer focus and the difference that enterprise can make to people’s lives – both essential components of a business with a social purpose.
Elliot Ballantyne works with social enterprise, The Green Team, in the Scottish Borders. Elliot sells and delivers kindling to customers across his rural community using his customised tricycle. Many are older people or live in remote locations and depend on Elliot’s deliveries, which he makes regardless of the weather. Elliot’s efforts and customer service are reflected in his sales, which have grown by over half since he first started.
The Sunshine Kitchen is an enterprise in Fife for young adults with additional support needs, which makes food products from locally-sourced produce in a supportive work environment. It sells these at local farmers’ markets and events, and also provides a catering service. The young adults are closely involved in the planning, development and production of the food products, as well as branding, packaging and other marketing materials.
On the night, the event was ably hosted by television presenter and journalist Rona Dougall with keynote remarks from Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health. It was a real celebration of the achievements of people with a learning disability and the people that support them. Although, as SCLD’s new CEO Charlie McMillan pointed out, these are only some of the success stories, and the talents, achievements and contributions of many more are less well known or recognised.
When the time came, I presented the ‘Highly Commended’ award to Elliot with the category winner being The Sunshine Kitchen. The joy of both finalists, and of those in the other categories, at being recognised for their efforts and achievements was self-evident. You can find out more about the 2 Community Enterprise finalists by watching their LDA videos at:
Elliot Ballantyne https://vimeo.com/showcase/6001881/video/337093444
The Sunshine Kitchen https://vimeo.com/showcase/6001881/video/337093633
And if their stories inspire you to start your own social enterprise, or grow your existing one, then take a look out at Scottish Government’s Just Enterprise programme (www.justenterprise.org) or the free development support that you may be able to access.