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14:19 Fund Archives - Inspiring Scotland


Pro Bono brews up a fine new brand of business

Callander’s Bridgend cafe development shows how our free support network can help, says Elaine Crichton, Pro Bono Executive

If you find yourself in Callander in need of a pick-me-up, I highly recommend you stop by the Bridgend café and get a young barista named Jamie to make you a coffee; he may well make the best latte north of the M9.

Jamie hasn’t always made such great coffee, and the Bridgend café wasn’t always a place worth stopping off, but the fact I now hold both statements to be irrefutable truths has as much to do with accountants and property lawyers, as it does with the training Jamie received at the coffee machine.

The Bridgend café, and the Callander Youth Hostel which houses the café, are both social enterprises run by the Callander Youth Project Trust (CYPT) – a charity specialising in helping young people into work and education.

The hostel occupies a beautiful building just off the main street in Callander and has been re-vitalised by CYPT in the last five years, including picking up 5-star visitor status from VisitScotland. The success of both businesses is a direct result of the Trust’s determination to have a place where local young people can meet and socialise, as well as to create employment and training opportunities for local young people.

CYPT Managing Director Chris Martin was a key factor in this success and he often tells the story of when he first presented the idea of developing the building at Bridgend to the charity’s board – they thought he was completely mad.

That’s when he turned to the offer of support from Inspiring Scotland’s Pro Bono network, a group of individuals who offer non-financial, expert support to charities free of charge.

Most social change organisations such as CYPT don’t have the ready access to resources such as strategic marketing, finance, IT, and HR that they need to succeed. When skilled volunteers from the Inspiring Scotland Pro Bono group bring their expertise to these organisations, they not only help them accomplish projects, they help develop strong organisations and allow them to fulfil their mission statement.

In many ways the project at Callander is the poster child for the power of pro bono, it simply would not have been as successful as it is today without pro bono input. The list of requests from CYPT was long and varied at the outset; support with property issues, project management, consultancy work on tourism, marketing and accounting support, website design, interior design and even a request for advise on gable-end water ingress! These were all delivered for free.

As Pro Bono Executive at Inspiring Scotland, I now have a group of over 260 people from all walks of life with myriad skills and experience reflecting almost all professions, from employees of large legal and accountancy firms to individuals, business entrepreneurs, consultants and retired executives.

The common purpose among pro bono supporters is the desire to give freely of their expertise but pro bono is more than corporate volunteering. The level of involvement, strategic input, and mutual collaboration embodies something that often goes on to build long-lasting relationships.

It’s a great way to match willing experts to the incredible organisations doing amazing work in communities across Scotland.

The Callander Hostel and Bridgend café are very visible examples of the power of pro bono but this happens on a daily basis across our portfolio of over 200 charities. Requests range from business mentoring and coaching as a charity approaches critical mass, to requests for social media training or professional photography.

Our charities are actively encouraged to use the pro bono resource and they do. Last year nearly 1600 hours of pro bono support was delivered amounting to a (very understated) value of £302,000. What we can’t yet measure is the compounding effect this has on the organisation.

I am constantly struck by how important this kind of professional assistance is to our charities; it can give them renewed hope with a problem or open up solutions they thought were beyond their expertise.

The support provided by the Pro Bono network at Inspiring Scotland is a key part of making the organisations we work with more sustainable and allows them to achieve their vision more effectively. In the case of CYPT and the Bridgend café that has meant, not just two successful social enterprises, but a place in Jamie’s home town where
he could get a job, earn money, learn new skills and pursue a career. As well as make fantastic coffee.

Callander Youth Project Trust is a youth orientated charity which is part of the Inspiring Scotland 14:19 fund set up in 2009 with a view to support disadvantaged young people aged 14-19 into employment, education or training.

Young people are more than their mental health difficulties

Stacks _image _2Charis Robertson of Hot Chocolate Trust, an Inspiring Scotland 14:19 Fund portfolio charity is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week by asking the Hot Chocolate Trust young people what their hopes for the future of mental health support across Scotland.

I am no expert on how mental health issues affect young people.
However, having worked with hundreds of young people over the years who struggle with their mental health, I have certainly learnt a lot from them about their experiences and recovery and I know mental health affects every young person differently.

That’s why I have co-written this article with them.

My co-authors are some of the young people I work with at Hot Chocolate Trust, a grassroots youth work organisation in Dundee, and they are the experts of their own experiences. If we are serious about creating a society which supports young people to flourish and thrive – physically, socially, emotionally, mentally – we’d be wise to listen to what they say.

Over 60% of the young people involved with Hot Chocolate experience mental health difficulties, so I invited them to share something around how mental health has affected them and our community.

“Mental health affects my life almost 24/7, everywhere I go. School and home are the big ones for me where I trigger every day. I can range from anger to emotional breakdowns to the fight/flight/freeze response. It’s extremely hard to live with, and it’s very hard for me to find people who understand.”

– Annie, 16

“I suffer with depression, ADHD, anxiety and paranoia. I struggle day-to-day with these disorders – it’s sometimes like I’m at war with myself. It seems like the hardest thing in the world is to put on a smile when all I want to do is hide under my duvet and stay there for a week.”

– Carrie, 17

“I was homeless when I was 17 and I had to fend for myself for 2 years. It’s really hard to deal with that as a teenager – you don’t feel there’s a lot you can do about it. I had pretty bad depression and anxiety and I thought about suicide quite a lot of times. You really need someone to sit down and speak to, and thankfully I found that at Hot Chocolate.”

-Paul, 22

“The vibe at Hot Chocolate is informal and free. I never feel forced to open up, and that makes me want to open up. It really helps that I can talk about my problems.”

– Steve, 16

“I knew I needed someone to speak to, so I spoke to the team at Hot Chocolate. They encouraged me to speak to my doctor. They helped me express my feelings. They didn’t judge. They helped me make positive plans for my future. They gave me opportunities. They listened. They were there.”

– Dan, 18

The young people of Hot Chocolate (like everybody else) are on a journey with their mental health and wellbeing: understanding themselves better; learning more about their own needs; cultivating healthy and positive practices; finding ways to express their emotions; establishing trusting relationships; growing in confidence to reach out and ask for help when they need it; processing past experiences; and developing courage, resilience and strategies to tackle they challenges they face.

Without these steps in the journey, it is very difficult for young people to be able to embrace the opportunities that may lay ahead of them– including those of employment, education and training.

So, in light of their experiences, I also asked my co-authors what their hopes are for the future of mental health support for young people across Scotland:

  • That young people are seen as whole people. They are more than their mental health difficulties, and also come with hopes, ambitions, skills and talents.
  • That mental health professionals would take time to get to know them, build up trust with them, really listen to them, and learn what makes them tick.
  • That mental health professionals don’t try to control or dictate what should happen, but work in partnership with them.
  • That there would be more creative opportunities to help them express themselves, and to help themprocess their emotions and experiences.

These seem like wise and achievable hopes to me.

Charis Robertson (Assistant Director, Development) & young people of Hot Chocolate Trust.

Hot Chocolate Trust is a grassroots youth work organisation based in centre of Dundee. It is part of Inspiring Scotland’s 14:19 portfolio, supporting young people into employment, education and training.