Search is on for Rothesay’s ‘Vital Sparks’

Ronnie Armstrong, Fiona Zavaroni, Caroline Speirs, Anne Shaw, James Crichton and Reeni Kennedy-Boyle from Rothesay-based social enterprise Fyne Futures.
Ronnie Armstrong, Fiona Zavaroni, Caroline Speirs, Anne Shaw, James Crichton and Reeni Kennedy-Boyle from Rothesay-based social enterprise Fyne Futures.

A new programme aiming to stimulate and support social entrepreneurs in Argyll and the islands has opened applications for funding and support at its Rothesay hub.

The Vital Spark initiative is delivered by Scotland’s social enterprise development agency Firstport together with local support organisation InspirAlba.

Having started in Dunoon, Vital Spark is now being rolled out in Rothesay in a bid to boost the local economy and create jobs in the area.

Vital Spark has been working with residents in these communities to find out what people thought was good about their area and what could be improved.

Five strong themes - People, Places, culture and heritage, services and enterprise - emerged from those consultations and the programme invites local residents to apply for a place in the programme with an idea that relates to one or more of those themes.

The best ideas will gain access to one to one business training, mentoring from industry experts, funding and free workspace in a local hub.

An ideas generation workshop will be held at 5pm on Tuesday, September 29 in the Green Tree Cafe, at the Moat Community Centre in Rothesay. The event is aimed at anyone interested in the programme wanting to learn more and get support developing a social enterprise idea.

The two-year initiative is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and supported by Caledonian MacBrayne, Unltd and the Kilfinan Trust.

Social enterprises already at work on Bute include Fyne Futures, Bute Community Land Company and the HELP Project.

Firstport chief executive Karen McGregor said: “Argyll and the Islands have an outstanding cultural and natural heritage and an abundance of assets, but the area also faces tough challenges.

“What these areas have in common is a strong sense of who they are, a vibrant community spirit and a commitment to getting things done.

“The programme has been positively received in Dunoon and we are excited to start our search in Rothesay. We are currently in the lookout for premises for our local hub, so keep an eye for it and come and say hello.

“We are looking forward to meeting any budding entrepreneurs who have the commitment and drive to start something good that supports themselves and their community.”

Anne MacDonald, Head of Strengthening Communities Policy at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to be working with Firstport on this new initiative in Argyll and the Islands.

“Social enterprises are achieving positive impacts in communities across Scotland, creating opportunities for employment, training and volunteering, and often delivering vital local services.

“Through Vital Spark, we’re hoping to generate a wealth of ideas and proposals which could create new, sustainable enterprises with the potential to empower local people to address the priorities which matter most to their communities.”

Applications for the Rothesay hub are now open: anyone who is interested in taking part should visit and apply by Friday, October 23.