Social Entrepreneur Index nominee: Scotland All-Strong
Recognising that his blended approach to nurturing his own positive mental health could help others, Andy Douglas has created a social enterprise that makes fitness available for all. He tells us about his business, Scotland All-Strong.
What does your social enterprise do?
Scotland All-Strong provides and promotes physical activity, mindful relaxation and peer support and exchange as powerful tools of recovery, self-management and early intervention for common mental health issues, as well as overall wellbeing.
We also provide family-friendly services, including yoga for toddlers through to adults, and parent’s fitness, in which babies to school-age children enjoy supervised play while their parents train in the adjacent and visible area.
What made you start your business up?
Throughout my mental health journey, physical training has been an anchor that has held me back from the abyss. In recent years, I have found that mindful relaxation, including focused breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as peer discussion and support, have also been extremely beneficial. The combination of these three tools, while not presenting a cure, can, we believe, form the foundation of a self-management strategy.
Having seen many lives negatively impacted and cut short due to stress and common mental health conditions - and more so the often unhealthy choices made in reaction to them - we support those willing to take that tough first step by holding open a wide and welcoming door.
How do you measure your impact?
We take direct feedback from participants of our programmes, specialist groups and public classes, our partnership organisations, as well as by recording attendance and participant numbers.
What help did you have to start your social enterprise?
We launched with our social aims in mind as a partnership, but quickly sought advice and became incorporated as a not-for-profit community interest company. My wife and I launched our enterprise by ourselves, and were then pleased to be awarded the ‘Start It’ grant from the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, delivered by Firstport in the month of our incorporation.
How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?
We sought advice from someone at Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS), as well as a business advisor from Firstport.
What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?
Constantly evolving – delivering clear, direct and positively impactful experiences, developing services, meeting challenges on your own terms.
What have been the three biggest challenges that you have overcome (or that you’re still working on)?
- Commercial-social balance (light on commercial)
- Getting our ‘what we do and why' message out there
- Getting comfortable with the unknown
What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Go for it!
Why do you think social enterprise is important?
It’s business that cares, and the only future I see worth living is amongst a wider humanity that cares.
What’s been your most rewarding experience as a social entrepreneur?
Seeing smiles on faces that were sad only moments before.
What information sources would you recommend (books, websites, organisations?) to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?
Get help from several local advice sources, contact funders and connect with the third sector in your area.
What are your plans for the next two to five years?
We will continue to develop our model to a place of financial sustainability, outstanding services with direct social impact, and replicate, expanding geographically and demographically.
What is the biggest change you would like to see in the world?
Each person making peace with themselves, and taking responsibility for that. If each makes their own peace, peace will soon be everywhere!
What have been your three proudest moments as a social entrepreneur?
- Securing funding which recognises the work we are doing, that we would like to do, and receiving the encouragement and support to enable us to deliver.
- Inspiring others to take their passion and create social enterprise from it.
- Hearing of the positive impacts our programmes and services have on participants.
What would you say to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their businesses?
You’re either contributing to the problems or the betterment of humanity – carefully consider where you stand… truly and not for appearance's sake.
The UK Social Entrepreneur Index is a celebration of social entrepreneurship across the UK.
Open to social entrepreneurs tackling a social or environmental issue at any scale, entrants will act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact.
For more info visit www.socialentsindex.co.uk.