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Dundee social enterprise expands operations to second site in Glasgow

Chief executive at The Circle, Kirsty Thomson.
Chief executive at The Circle, Kirsty Thomson.

Social enterprise The Circle is set to expand from its Dundee base this summer.

The organisation will open its second premises, at the Westwood Business Centre in Glasgow next month.

The Dundee organisation was approached by Glasgow City Council last year about branching out into the central belt.

Founder and chief executive Kirsty Thomson believes this is the right time to make the move.

She said: “We’ve had a really positive relationship with the Glasgow City Council as we’ve developed over the past year or so.

“It’s huge for us that our work has been recognised by another local authority as well.”

The Circle launched its first hub in Dundee in 2016, offering affordable offices, co-working, community, meeting and event spaces.

It also provides consultancy and business support, and a training programme for social entrepreneurs through The Circle Academy.

Creating a community

The Circle is a “more than profit” organisation, working with social entrepreneurs, activists, charities and businesses.

At the hub in Dundee, there are affordable offices, co-working spaces and event spaces.

The Circle hub in Staffa Place, Dundee.

Before starting the organisation, Ms Thomson ran a consultancy. When she noticed many of her clients facing the same issue, she decided to launch The Circle.

She said: “They had nowhere in the city where they could collaborate and connect, and start to create a community where they could work together to make a difference.

“We see it now in the building that we’re in, the individuals here have joint projects that they are pulling together.”

Delivering what the community needs

The new Glasgow hub will, like the space in Dundee, offer affordable office space as well as event spaces.

More staff will join The Circle team as it expands into Easterhouse.

The Circle’s new premises in Glasgow.

Ms Thomson said: “Our manager starts in July in Glasgow, so we have work to do in getting to know the area, engaging with the local community, businesses and individuals.

“We won’t go into Glasgow without going through that consultation, getting to know the local team and making sure we deliver what they need.”

Since The Circle launched in 2016, the team has grown from one member of staff to 11. As the Glasgow site opens, 17 people will be running the organisation.

Ms Thomson said: “We have spent almost five years building a very strong team here in Dundee. That is why we can take this model forward.”

Serve and support the locals

The team appreciated being approached by Glasgow City Council to open the site, Ms Thomson added.

The goal is that the organisation can expand beyond the two sites and bring the model to other Scottish cities.

She said: “Once we have the model working in Glasgow and we’re comfortable with it, we would like to replicate it in other cities.

“Our key criteria is to be embedded in the community.

“We are there to serve and support them as well as the wider entrepreneurial system.

“We’re not afraid to adapt either if it’s not working. As you’re in a start up phase, you recognise that if you’re not getting it right you need to change.

“You have to ensure that you’re meeting the needs of the individuals that you’re working with.”

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