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The young team at Campbeltown-based charity and social enterprise Inspiralba impressed a delegation of Canadian officials during a recent visit to Kintyre.
Last week, the Courier reported that representatives from the Quebec government, different national and regional sector support agencies and social enterprises from the province visited Machrihanish Airbase Community Company and the Isle of Gigha to learn about how Scotland applies social enterprise to economic and community development.
The delegates also visited Inspiralba, which tackles unemployment by providing business support and learning opportunities, and advocating for rural social enterprise.
‘It was an honour and great opportunity for some reflection on our work when hosting the visit from social enterprise colleagues from Quebec in Canada as part of a study visit organised by the International Social Enterprise Observatory,’ said Inspiralba founder and development manager Ailsa Clark.
‘It was also an opportunity for the younger members of our team to shine and they certainly did that.’
Rural social enterprise coordinator Aimee Spence, aged 24, presented an introduction and overview of the charity’s Rural Social Enterprise Hub activity, which is available on the www.ruralsehub.net website.
This includes learning resources which bring together community development and enterprise approaches, as well as case studies, learning exchange materials, policy information and research, all of which focuses on rural social enterprise.
‘It was wonderful to meet the delegates from Canada and gain a bit of insight into how social enterprises are run outside of the UK,’ Aimee said.
‘I gave the delegates an overview of our Rural Social Enterprise Hub and some of the activities and events that we organise.
‘We were delighted to hear that a few of the delegates were actually already familiar with the Rural Social Enterprise Hub.
‘We are currently looking to expand our materials and resources to include more examples of social enterprise activity outwith Scotland, so visits like this are really useful.’
Across rural communities, social enterprises play a vital role in sustaining services across a broad range of enterprise activity, from childcare to cinemas, fuel filling stations, shops and elderly care.
An important aspect of Inspiralba’s work is creating and supporting opportunities for young people in social enterprise.
Rachel MacPhail, aged 24, leads the organisation’s employment and training activity, having previously completed a Modern Apprenticeship.
Rachel explained Inspiralba’s employment and training activity, from work-based placements to pre-employability support, having supported 80 work-based placements and 65 young people with pre-employability support over the past year in partnership with local organisations.
‘Coming through an employability placement myself, I feel I am able to relate to other young people and have an insight into the specific barriers and opportunities the employed trainees we support face,’ Rachel said.
‘We recently had an opportunity to spread our story with delegates from Canada. I was able to give an overview of our programmes as well as the learning from this work.
‘I was also able to share the story of the impact we are making; tackling skills shortages, depopulation of rural areas and helping to address mental health issues and other barriers to work.
‘It was also good to answer questions from an international perspective.’
Ailsa added: ‘It was great to hear feedback that our Rural Social Enterprise Hub tools and resources are used and valued in Quebec and, following the visit, we hope to be able to offer a French translation, as materials are currently only available in English, Finnish, Romanian, Estonian and German.
‘When we are busy delivering our work, supporting social enterprises, employment and training opportunities, as well as providing information and resources for rural social enterprise, we can sometimes forget the reach and impact from our wee office at Burnside Square in Campbeltown.’
The visit made an impact not only on the Canadian delegates but also on the team at Inspiralba, who are now planning to make a return visit to Canada.