With the news this week that Clydesdale Community Initiative Scotland has received a Big Lottery Fund pay out, we decided to find out more about the organisation.
The seeds of an idea planted in a social worker’s head back in 2002 have since branched out across Clydesdale.
At the outset, Niall McShannon simply wanted to create a community garden in the heart of Lanark, off the Wellgate.
Sadly, the organisation he was working for at that time didn’t feel it could do it.
So Niall set up Clydesdale Community Initiatives and enlisted the help of a local gardening club and volunteers from a mental health charity to create the Wallace Community Garden.
The response from the volunteers was phenomenal so Niall decided to take it a step further and set up his own charity and social enterprise company.
Its mission was to give people with support needs across Clydesdale an opportunity to contribute to their community.
And the project has been such a success that it now operates six enterprises – gardening, food growing and processing, environmental and conservation, furniture making, cosmetics and premises hire – as well as a commercial construction company which feeds its funds back into the charity.
While the social enterprise services are based here in Clydesdale, the company tenders for jobs all over Scotland.
Niall said: “The construction company is a major contributor to what we do here at CCI.
“It also creates more work for the furniture making and gardening team and, for those who are able, offers the opportunity of future employment too.
“Each of the teams also brings money back into the social enterprise, as people across Clydesdale pay to have their gardens tidied or buy our products – everything from cosmetics to garden benches and bakery goods – from local outlets.
“But no one is getting rich from this – all the money is ploughed back into CCI’s work with its participants.
“Our main aim is to ensure that anyone who feels excluded, whether they have complex health needs or mental health issues, can contribute to their local community.
“We’re now a far bigger enterprise than we were back in 2002 but that principle remains at the heart of everything we do.”
In September 2016, CCI moved from town centre premises in Lanark to a new, purpose-built facility at Langloch Farm in Hyndford Road – the headquarters for all of its activities.
The charity received lottery, European and Robertson Trust funding for the £1.8 million redevelopment of the farm.
Niall said: “Our premises in the town centre were pretty dilapidated – it was transformative coming here.
“We got a shock when we first came in because it was stunning, with loads of grounds to develop.
“It truly is a purpose-built facility which is perfect for our needs and meeting spaces can also be hired out to other local groups.”
On any one day, visitors to the gift shop at Langloch Farm will find at least 70 people – staff, volunteers and participants – rolling up their sleeves and getting on with a host of projects.
And that’s exactly why it delivers such a great feeling of self-worth.
Niall explained: “As people who are making a contribution to their local community, our participants take a pride in what they are doing which gives them a sense of value and worth.
“They are not service users – many treat CCI like their place of work and it’s somewhere they can learn new skills, improve their health and meet new people.
“We do a social impact report every year and the improvement in people’s health and well-being is astounding.”
After its inaugural success last year, everyone at CCI is looking forward to the return of the rock concert at Langloch Farm on August 18.
Niall added: “We’re looking at another exciting line-up this year – we will be announcing that soon.
“More than 300 people came along last year to see a mix of old rockers and a number of acts from Lanark Grammar School.
“It’s never boring here, that’s for sure!”
For more information, vist CCI’s website at www.cciweb.org.uk.
Another big lottery windfall
Clydesdale Community Initiatives has just been successful in securing £271,453 from the Big Lottery Fund Scotland.
CCI will use the funding to continue its many services, improving the confidence and social networks of people with mental health issues and additional support needs in Clydesdale.
The news was welcomed this week by SNP MSP for Clydesdale Aileen Campbell.
She said: “I am delighted for CCI. As a group embedded in the local community, CCI does excellent work tackling social exclusion and stigma around mental health.
“This award is testament to the significant work it provides for many in Clydesdale and is a vote of confidence in its work going forward.”
CCI Scotland is a unique social enterprise, incorporating a charity that delivers exceptional person-centred programmes to individuals with a range of support needs and a professional construction company that delivers outstanding quality and value on a range of landscape and minor civils contracts.
CCI’s model focuses on the interests and abilities of its participants rather than on their illness or disability.
Its Landscape Contracts division specialises in small and medium sized projects where primary contractors and community and public sector partners benefit not only from the firm’s professionalism and value, but also from the enormous additional community benefits it can deliver.
All profits from the landscape company are reinvested into the charity, guided by a voluntary Board of Directors who provide a mix of backgrounds, skills and experience.