Highlands and Islands schools awarded for inspiring enterprise ideas

Six schools from throughout the Highlands and Islands have been rewarded for their work in creating social enterprises.

Six schools from throughout the Highlands and Islands have been rewarded for their work in creating social enterprises.

Held by the Social Enterprise Academy and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which is currently marking its 50th year of supporting businesses and communities throughout the region, the Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise in Schools Awards were held in Eden Court, Inverness on Monday.

Guests at the event enjoyed a marketplace set up by the attending schools before the awards were presented. Those honoured are as follows:

• Aldourie Primary School, Aldourie (by Inverness)
Pupils at Aldourie Primary School were inspired to adopt a Moray Firth dolphin following a visit from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation organisation. To fund their support, pupils decided to open a healthy-eating smoothie bar and tuck shop. A start-up grant was secured by the pupils from their local Tesco and they now grow some of their own produce on school grounds including rhubarb which is used to make jam.

• Altnaharra Primary School, Sutherland
To relieve some of the suffering by visiting tourists from the many midges in the area, pupils from Altnaharra have made a midge and tick repellent soap which tourists can buy from the local lodges and B&Bs. Profits go to MFR’s Cash for Kids

• Dingwall Primary School, Ross-shire
When Scott the hearing dog came to visit the deaf unit at Dingwall Primary School, pupils were so taken by him that they decided to set up an enterprise that would pay for other people to have a hearing dog. The pupils now make and sell healthy dog biscuits to support the training of more hearing dogs.

• Elgin High School, Moray
S3 pupils from Elgin High School have formed four different social enterprises to support Cedarwood Day Centre for adults with learning difficulties. These include a candle business, a smoothie bar, a gaming group and a regular coffee morning. The coffee morning promotes the other social enterprises and more established businesses can also rent plots for their own stalls.
• Fortrose Academy, Ross-shire

Fortrose Academy’s exchange with Mulanje Mission Community Day School in Malawi has this year seen girls involved supporting a group of AIDS orphans through the creation of a social enterprise. The pupils have made and sold beaded jewellery from magazine paper to raise money and also shared their jewellery crafting skills with young women in Malawi so they can create businesses of their own.

• Speyside High School, Aberlour and ASG (Transition Award 2015 for promotion of social enterprise)

The successful pupil-led social enterprise, Speycraft, which sells Traidcraft merchandise has been instrumental in raising awareness of the fair trade movement throughout Speyside and Moray over the past few years. A group of seven S3 pupils have now visited their feeder primary schools to promote social enterprise as a positive tool for learning. Granted money from the Moray Young Citizen Award, they offered £100 to the primary group that came up with the best business plan that met social enterprise criteria. It was awarded to Aberlour Primary School whose idea was to set up a social enterprise to sell recycled school uniforms, clothes and shoes which pays for a social afternoon for over 60s in the area. The group was so impressed by the other ideas that it contributed £50 to plans put forward by Rothes Primary School and Tomintoul Primary.

HIE director of strengthening communities Rachael McCormack said: “The social enterprises created by schools in the Highlands and Islands are truly remarkable and support some incredible causes – and it’s great to honour such inspiring projects.

“I’m glad that Highlands and Islands Enterprise can play a part in facilitating these sort of projects. The creativity and enterprise shown by these pupils is a great illustration of the sense of pride and community involvement we are seeing from young people across the region. In a year where we are marking 50 years of development agency support, this project is another contribution to the empowerment of the next generation of social entrepreneurs for our region.”

These awards are another example of the scale and vital contribution of social enterprise to society and the economy in the Highlands and Islands. Moreover, social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands are leading the way in Scotland as shown by The Social Enterprise Census* published earlier this month. According to the report, 22% of social enterprises in Scotland are based in the Highlands and Islands, creating 7,000 jobs and contributing £130 million to the economy.

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