Researchers celebrate landmark social enterprise research

Researchers have marked the completion of one of the largest ever research programmes on social enterprise with a celebration event at Glasgow Caledonian University.

CommonHealth was a collaborative five-year study, led by GCU, aimed at addressing health inequalities and establishing new ways to help vulnerable communities across Scotland.

The programme, funded by the Medical Research Council and the Economic & Social Research Council, was made up of eight research projects delivered in partnership with over 30 social enterprises across Scotland and academics from Stirling, Glasgow, Highlands and Islands and Robert Gordon Universities. Glasgow Centre for Population Health was also a research partner and the programme received endorsement from Social Enterprise Scotland the ScotSEN (Scottish Social Enterprise Networks).

Subjects included the history of social enterprise in Scotland since the 1970s, how social enterprises operate at a local level, and the health and wellbeing effects of rural social enterprise activity in the Highlands and Islands.

Academics also looked at how skills development and training helps build confidence in hard-to-reach groups, what impact social enterprise had on participants aged 50 and over, how information and data can be used to improve service levels, and how social enterprises operating in the housing sector can have a significant positive impact on tenants.

The outcomes stressed the need for organisations to balance their successful relationships with local and national government with community links, and for there to be a better understanding of the impact of small, but transformative actions.

This week GCU hosted an exhibition of project findings and a presentation from Professor Cam Donaldson, the programme’s principal investigator, to celebrate the end of the project.

Social enterprise and public health experts including Leona McDermid, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Foyer, Aidan Pia, CEO of ScotSEN, and Carol Tannahill, Chief Social Policy Advisor to the Scottish Government, also delivered speeches.

Professor Donaldson, GCU’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, said: “We have pulled off one the largest ever research programmes on social enterprise and managed to conceptualise and evidence a new idea for public policy; that any social enterprise, even without mentioning health in its mission, can be portrayed as acting on social determinants of health.

“This is because the various contexts in which social enterprises operate almost always involve addressing some aspect of social vulnerability that will likely be associated with health.

“As well as completing and publishing the results of our projects, CommonHealth has produced a cadre of talented researchers across Scotland, which is much needed for this important area of social and economic activity in which Scotland leads the way. ”

Figures show there are now more than 5000 social enterprises operating in Scotland, with 64 per cent being led by women.

GCU is to host a national archive capturing Scotland’s social enterprise story after securing £90,000 of government funding.

Scotland’s Social Enterprise Collection will be open to all members of the public and will chronicle the history of the thriving sector. Alongside it, the papers and other outputs from CommonHealth will be archived, so making the work of the research permanently available to public audiences.

For more information on the project, please visit http://www.commonhealth.uk/

Digital Storytelling Kit, Ashoka Collaboration Fund

Julie Adair, part of the Yunus Centre, has been awarded to lead the work on creating a Digital Storytelling Toolkit as part of the Ashoka Changemaker Collaboration Fund. From the Collaboration Fund documentation:

Storytelling and listening are superb means of promoting empathy and resilience, and shared understanding between individuals and communities. Our collaborative immersion will bring together leaders from three Changemaker Campuses (Georgian College in Canada, Northeastern University in the United States and Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland) to explore and transfer knowledge through digital storytelling as a social innovation. This project will address areas such as diversity, equity and inclusion, faculty/research engagement, community engagement/partnerships and extra-curricular student programming. As storytelling is a means of engaging community, breaking down barriers, encouraging empathy and demonstrating resilience, the intention of this project is to help institutions incorporate digital storytelling practices into their campus culture and curricula. The goal of this collaboration will be to deliver a replicable and adaptable toolkit for Change Leaders to put into practice on their own campuses, to facilitate digital storytelling methodology amongst faculty, students and community partners.

Creating a replicable digital storytelling toolkit

Julie Adair, Director of Digital Collaboration at Glasgow Caledonian has been successful in a bid for funding to AshokaU.  The project is ‘Creating a replicable digital storytelling toolkit’ and is a collaboration with Dan Jackson, Northeastern University and Tracy Mitchell-Ashley, Georgian College.

Project Summary
Storytelling and listening are superb means of promoting empathy and resilience, and shared understanding between individuals and communities. Our collaborative immersion will bring together leaders from three Changemaker Campuses (Georgian College in Canada, Northeastern University in the United States and Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland) to explore and transfer knowledge through digital storytelling as a social innovation. This project will address areas such as diversity, equity and inclusion, faculty/research engagement, community engagement/partnerships and extra-curricular student programming. As storytelling is a means of engaging community, breaking down barriers, encouraging empathy and demonstrating resilience, the intention of this project is to help institutions incorporate digital storytelling practices into their campus culture and curricula. The goal of this collaboration will be to deliver a replicable and adaptable toolkit for Change Leaders to put into practice on their own campuses, to facilitate digital storytelling

For further details about the project, please contact Julie.Adair@gcu.ac.uk

Social Innovation as a Tool for Inclusion

Professor Simone Baglioni spoke about social innovation in public policies at a European event last week in Bordeaux, France. The workshop entitled “Social Innovation As a Tool for Inclusion” was organized by Eurodir, a transnational network of academics and social workers interested in innovations in social and public services in the health and care sectors. Professor Baglioni delivered a key-note discussing the diffusion of social innovation as a policy idea at the EU level and its implications for national and local policy making.

This week, Simone is speaking again in France, at an international conference in Brest entitled ‘Participation in social and health policies: which autonomy for social actors?’ where he’s addressing the issue of civil society role in policy making in a cross-country perspective.

GCU secures £90,000 to host national social enterprise archive

Glasgow Caledonian University is to host a national archive capturing Scotland’s social enterprise story after securing £90,000 of government funding.

Scotland’s Social Enterprise Collection will be open to all members of the public and will capture the story of the thriving sector.

Figures show there are now more than 5000 social enterprises operating in Scotland, with 64% being led by women.

The Scottish Government has a 10-year Social Enterprise Strategy aimed at supporting and businesses that reinvest their profits to address social change in areas such as homelessness, unemployment, inequality, and climate change.

The Collection will expand on the existing archive of work by the late John Pearce, viewed as one of the most influential figures in community enterprise in the UK.

Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said: “With so much happening across Scotland and given the vibrancy of this sector it is vital that this story is probably captured, understood and shared for the benefit of all.

“That’s why I am delighted to announce the Scottish Government will provide £90,000 to the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University, named in honour of the Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus, to help establish Scotland’s Social Enterprise Collection.”

Professor Cam Donaldson, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise and Co-Director of the Yunus Centre, said: “Glasgow Caledonian University’s Special Collections and the Yunus Centre are both delighted and honoured to accept this award.

“The plans we have developed with Scottish Government are exciting not only in terms of ensuring Scotland’s social enterprise story is preserved but also because the Social Enterprise Collection (Scotland) and the pioneering work of John Pearce can be further developed and opened up for use by historians and other academics, practitioners and policy-makers and, indeed, communities and individual members of the public.

“This will be a living resource, open to all.”

Carole McCallum, GCU’s archivist, said: “I’m thrilled and delighted with the news. We will be working in partnership with the Yunus Centre, and we will now be able to recruit a part-time archivist to catalogue the collection. The archivist will also go out and actively seek new material to build the collection within the archive. The real legacy of this project will be the creation of a comprehensive collection based here at GCU which will endure for the future.”

The announcement coincided with the start of the 2018 Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh, which runs from September 12 to 14.

– Watch the announcement

Professor Baglioni delivered keynote speech on solidarity in Europe at a European policy event

Professor Simone Baglioni, Yunus Centre, delivered a keynote speech at a gathering of European policy makers in Gdansk, Poland. Professor Baglioni was invited to speak about solidarity in Europe at a time when several social, economic and political challenges risk undermining the progress European peoples and countries have made since the creation of the European Union. Professor Baglioni, using evidence from the European funded project TransSOL (Transnational Solidarity at Times of Crisis), of which GCU was a partner, said that although fragile solidarity in Europe was in good shape and that citizens still believe in Europe. Professor Baglioni argued that European peoples are still ready to help each other in case of need, such as supporting their countries pooling resources to help others paying debts, or engaging by helping people such as the disabled, asylum seekers and refugees, and the unemployed. And that therefore there is a good potential to tap upon for revamping social trust and citizens’ trust in Europe.

Professor Baglioni spoke at the Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation network annual conference, including policy representatives from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. Professor Baglioni said that macro-regional cooperation such as the Baltic Sea States one is a key-policy tool to leverage solidarity among countries and contribute creating cross-country synergies for a sustainable growth and a fairer society.

Later in this month professor Baglioni is invited to speak also at a plenary of the French Sociological Association Health and Social Care branch at the University of Brest, and at the gathering of the European association for health care managers in Bordeaux, both in France.

Baroness Thornton delivers the 2018 John Pearce Memorial Lecture

Baroness Glenys Thornton outlined how social enterprise can have a positive impact on people’s lives at the annual John Pearce Memorial Lecture at Glasgow Caledonian University.

More than 200 guests attended the 2018 lecture held in honour of one of the most influential figures in community enterprise in the UK.

Labour’s Shadow Health Minister in the House of Lords delivered this year’s keynote address, which was part of the programme for an academic symposium, organised by the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, ahead of the Social Enterprise World Forum 2018.

Baroness Thornton, who has spent 40 years working with co-operative, social and community organisations, said: “John was one of the people who laid the foundations for the social enterprise movement in Scotland and across the UK.

“He persuaded people to set up innovations and businesses to support their communities, create jobs, give people control over their lives, and save communities that were under threat, he was remarkable.

“The Yunus Centre, here at GCU, does great work. It’s important work because it allows a connection to be made with what happens on the ground and what happens across the world.”

Professor Cam Donaldson, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise and Co-Director of the Yunus Centre, said: “John Pearce spent his working life developing creative, community-led solutions to challenges facing urban and rural communities.

“Upon his retirement and just prior to his death in 2011, John donated his papers to the special collections at GCU.

“A special benefit arising from such a generous donation is that I, along with my colleagues and members of the public who never met him, will have the chance to learn from John.”

The work to preserve the Pearce archive at Glasgow Caledonian University has been funded by donations from the social enterprise and business communities, a grant from the University and awards from the Medical Research Council and Economic & Social Research Council.

Professor Pamela Gillies, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of GCU, said: “Supporting, facilitating and researching Social Enterprise sits at the very heart of our social mission as the University for the Common Good.

“It is why we are delighted, on our campus, to honour the memory of a remarkable and inspirational person, John Pearce.”

Guests from the USA, Canada, Australia, Thailand and across Europe have been on campus this week for a two-day symposium to discuss how academia can advance social enterprise teaching, research and community engagement across the globe.

The event is part of the build-up to the 2018 Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh, which runs from September 12 to 14.