Grassmarket Community Project is named Social Enterprise of the Year

A social enterprise that grew out of a Church of Scotland outreach effort has been named Social Enterprise of the Year.

Grassmarket Project

The Grassmarket Community Project, which was created by Greyfriars Kirk and the Grassmarket Mission in 2010, helps vulnerable people break out of cycles of homelessness and unemployment by offering work experience, education, training and support in a nurturing environment.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, minister at Greyfriars Kirk and Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said:

“I am so proud of the wonderful team at the Grassmarket Community Project who have won this marvellous award. GCP is a key part of our mission and outreach at Greyfriars.

“Long ago we recognised that people who have experienced poverty and hardship in their lives also have untapped capacity and often deep wisdom about the things that truly matter in life.

“It is the members of the project who make it the success that it is, and the energy, hard work and entrepreneurial flair of this marvellous community deserve all the credit for this great achievement.

“Seeing lives transformed and people who’ve been rejected turned into the building blocks of a vibrant community of purpose and achievement feels very theological.

“The Bible refers to the stones that the builders rejected becoming the keystone of a new kind of community and it is an honour to witness signs of that happening”

Five social enterprises in one

Based in Edinburgh’s historic old town, the project was chosen over the other two finalists: Buth Bharraigh Ltd, a cooperative local produce hub on the Isle of Barra and St Andrews First Aid & Training Supplies Ltd, which trains and equips a volunteer corps of first aiders. It was the second year in a row that the project had been shortlisted for the prestigious award.

As well as running a busy café, an events centre, and an innovative furniture workshop, the project runs a café in the Church of Scotland’s George Street headquarters in Edinburgh. It also has its own tartan, which it markets as clothing, scarves, hats, bags and other handmade products.

Jonny Kinross, chief executive of the Grassmarket Community Project, said:

“We are so delighted to win Social Enterprise of the Year 2017. I’m so proud of our team, our volunteers, our staff but above all the members of our project who inspire and motivate us.

“We’d like to congratulate all the winners and finalists tonight - together we have created a sector to be proud of and proven time and time again how business can change the lives of our most vulnerable, creating a fairer, more inclusive world.”

Award winners across Scotland

Also recognised at the Social Enterprise Scotland Awards were:

Projekt 42, a not-for-profit gym in Leith won the ‘One to Watch’ award.

Instant Neighbour, which re-sells second-hand furniture to support people on low incomes took the top honour in the ‘Tech for Good’ category.

Chris Martin, managing director of Loch Lomond’s Callander Youth Project Trust was named the 2017 Social Enterprise Champion.

INCH Architecture & Design Ltd an architecture and research practice took the Social Impact Award.

The Community Resources Network Scotland, which offers the option of purchasing recycled furniture instead of new won the ‘Buy Social’ Market Builder Award.

Fraser Kelly, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Scotland, said:

“We’re delighted to announce the winners of Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2017. Social enterprises in every corner of Scotland are building a better economy and a fairer society.

"The Social Enterprise Awards Scotland is a unique opportunity for social enterprises to gain serious recognition for their achievements and raise their public profile. A huge congratulations to the winners and to everyone who took the time and effort to enter this year.”

Scotland to host Social Enterprise World Forum

The Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP, congratulated the winners noting that the number of social enterprises in Scotland has grown to 5,600.

“It’s vital we continue to recognise and celebrate the talent of Scotland’s social entrepreneurs,” she said.

“Throughout Scotland, these individuals work tirelessly to improve their communities through the power of social enterprise, reinvesting all profits into social or environmental missions.

“Our nation is now recognised as a world leader in social enterprise, and is confirmed as host of next year’s Social Enterprise World Forum. This is another excellent opportunity to put Scotland’s social enterprise sector on the world stage, welcoming friends and neighbours from around the globe and celebrating all we have achieved.”