Judith McVinnie tells us about her experiences being on Sunny Govan Community Radio where she spoke to the listeners about how to start up a social business and what is involved in providing consultancy in community engagement.
‘Be a Mermaid and Make Waves’. That was what it said on the presenter’s mug. Perfect.
First question comes in, someone would like to start an organisation that fixes musical instruments and uses the profits to provide music workshops for the community, how do you go about starting up? Brilliant idea I say as I realise I’m live on air and the whole of Glasgow can hear me! Ah! As I stared at the mug, I thought this is really just asking How do you become a ‘mermaid’, someone who is a bit different to the usual fish in the sea and does something that most people will only dream of? My advice would be to just do it. Don’t give up the day job quite yet but you’ve got to just start. It might be small stuff if that’s all you’ve got time for, but that’s it you are off….
Don’t get me wrong initially you’ve got to do some research – is anyone else out there doing it for example? I would look at Retune and Musical Broth who are currently doing similar things, although not the same idea. Just get in touch, tell them about your idea – meet for coffee, understand what they do – whether you fit in with that or whether you want to start something new.
If you are not sure who else is out there, we can signpost you to these groups or we can be involved in the development of a new project, organisation or community initiative too. We can provide desk-based research so that you’ve got some data and hard facts and figures to back up your idea. There can be a whole load of different structures for community organisations, CIC’s, SCIO’s – the main thing from our point of view - so that we can support you - is that the business is for public good rather than the individual. We can talk you through the various options and help you set up a structure that best suits your needs.
Then once you’ve got the basics ready, I would build a network of support, contacts, an audience. People that want to support you and your idea and see you flourish. You’ve got to build a network, develop a community for your project, your workshops, so that you can make your ‘waves’. You’ve got to start talking about your idea to people who are interested. People who are listening. Say you are interested up your project in setting it up in Govan for example. A great way to do this is to engage with your community, ask people if it would be something they are interested in and why. This is what I specialise in – community engagement - and of course I’ll tell you this, it is just so important.
If you would like to engage with your community and you’re not sure how to get started, talk to us. Or maybe you are already doing ‘community engagement’ but not getting much response from your community and want some fresh ideas. Or perhaps you’ve got an excellent community programme and you need help to clarify the impacts and sustain the benefits – then get us involved. We might just be able to help you access funding to make the good that you are providing more sustainable.
What I tried to get across on the airwaves was that when you work with CEIS you begin a collaboration, we are a team of business advisors who are all specialised and supporting Enterprise and Communities across Scotland. There has never been a better time to get in touch. Because if you are a mermaid underneath your normal gear, yes you there, and you want to make waves in this world, see change for the better – I’ve got a question for you: if you don’t do it now – then when will you?