Finding money for improving our towns and cities is getting harder and harder – whether you’re a business, a local authority or particularly a social enterprise. In the past you might have asked a bank or a grant-funder for some money. Now you need to be more nimble.
Lots of people are finding clever new ways of accessing money – especially in the community sector which, as ever, has some of the most entrepreneurial people around. Development Trusts, for example, may be able to acquire an asset that generates an income – like Fintry Development Trust with its wind turbine or Neilston Development Trust with its bank.
But what if you don’t – can’t – have an asset? There are plenty of social enterprises who work to improve our towns and cities but, because they work throughout the country, they can’t access community asset transfer funding to acquire a wind turbine or an old bank building. Planning Aid for Scotland and Space Unlimited are two examples of social enterprises in that position.
That’s why I think Space Unlimited’s New Urban Voices initiative deserves wider recognition. The project is is helping young people in Dundee and Angus to design and influence change and development in their neighbourhoods – the Derby Street area in Hilltown, Dundee and Forfar’s new community campus. Rather than young people being seen as a problem, they become part of the solution. Space Unlimited are supporting the young people to work in genuine partnership with those more traditionally ‘in power’. And the lessons will be disseminated across Scotland through a resource pack and real stories of change.
Most funding is coming from a cocktail of Creative Scotland, Architecture and Design Scotland, Dundee City Council, Angus Council and the RSA. But that left a gap of £4,000. Space Unlimited took the plunge to use crowd-funding to raise this money – often talked about, but the only example that I personally know of in this area of work in Scotland. They’re well on the way, with only £1,400 left to raise.
Here’s the rub: Space Unlimited have just 9 days left to raise that £1,400. If they don’t succeed, they lose the whole £4,000 and there’s a big hole in the budget. Such are the perils of crowd-funding and social enterprise!
I’ve just put some money into what I think is an immensely worthwhile project. I don’t want to make any profit. But I do want to back an exciting, innovative project that will make better places in Dundee, Forfar and elsewhere – and help young people to be part of solutions not problems.
If you or your organisation wants to find out more, or contribute to the crowd-funding, click here. You’ve got until Wednesday 16 April to make it happen!