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Dundee-based ‘more than profit’ organisation The Circle helps groups through Covid-19

Kirsty Thomson of The Circle
Kirsty Thomson of The Circle

The chief executive of a Dundee-based ‘more than profit’ organisation has hailed the performance of the group as it launched its third social impact report.

Founder of The Circle, Kirsty Thomson, highlighted the support and advice offered to entrepreneurs, businesses and charities against the challenging backdrop of Covid-19 restrictions.

With large premises in the city’s Staffa Place, The Circle also acts as landlord to a number of organisations.

Ms Thomson highlighted the 44 businesses and charities The Circle has worked with over the past 12 months, in addition to £230,000 secured in grant funding to support community benefit projects.

The organisation has also delivered more than 50 hours of free consultancy for early-stage entrepreneurs and assisted 45 social entrepreneurs.

The Circle recently moved to a four day working week to help staff cope with pressures brought by Covid-19.

Ms Thomson said: “This report celebrates some of our successes and the way we have been supporting the community, both in Dundee and on the wider spectrum in terms of social enterprise across Scotland.”

Part of the organisation’s work is The Circle Academy – a 12-week programme focused on developing skills and knowledge in entrepreneurs across key areas, including business model, finance, legal issues and sustainability through multiple income streams.

Kirsty Thomson, founder of The Circle

The Academy has had 25 candidates going through the process since it began, while the current cohort have accessed the programme through a digital platform developed in response to the pandemic.

Ms Thomson said: “In terms of access to funding generally I would say over the past seven to eight months through the pandemic, the third sector, charity and social enterprises have been facing challenges with funding cuts, so we’ve secured an excess of £250,000 for those organisations.”

The Circle has also continued to support young people across the city by distributing 300 ‘Superstar activity packs’ which contain items including stationery, colouring books and comics.

Dundee business moves to a four day working week to boost employees’ wellbeing

The chief executive said young people living in the more deprived area of the city had been hit particularly hard during the pandemic lockdown and delivery of the Superstars project had been led by the Circle Academy candidates.

She said: “A lot of people who are in need at this time don’t have the digital access a lot of individuals do, so we thought it was important that we provided packs that enabled young people to play as well as getting the parents some time to themselves too.”

The organisation said a number of people were still keen to use the office for a number of tasks, especially where the home environment can make using zoom calls and other digital platforms more difficult.

Ms Thomson said: “It’s really about making sure that our tenants and the community we are working in with the Academy and our client base, is getting access to the support they require.

Looking to the future, Ms Thomson said the funding picture for charities and social enterprises had changed quite dramatically due to coronavirus and The Circle would continue to support them including providing digital training and a short package delivered online that helps entrepreneurs pivot their business and access funding opportunities.

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