The Workshop founder/manager Paul Parmenter and one of his trainees Connor
The Workshop founder/manager Paul Parmenter and one of his trainees Connor

£128,000 funding boost for Perthshire social business

A Tayside business which helps young people and those facing barriers into employment has won a funding package worth £128,000 to help them expand further.

The Workshop in Aberfeldy helps people develop confidence and learn craft and design skills, with the aim of supporting people in Highland Perthshire into employment or further training.  Working with the local community, they make products that make changes in people’s lives.

Open to everyone, The Workshop has a particular emphasis on people under 25 years of age, and those facing additional barriers to employment. Since launching in 2014, 75% of their trainees have been under 25, and 50% have had some kind of additional support needs or rehabilitation needs.

The Workshop is a safe environment for trainees to gain self-confidence and interpersonal skills at their own pace while learning practical manufacturing skills including engineering, laser-cutting and woodworking. They manufacture a range of products, including medals, gifts and a range of bespoke products.

Scotland’s only social enterprise accelerator programme, LaunchMe is delivered by social enterprise development agency Firstport and funded by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, with additional support from the Scottish Government.

LaunchMe supports the most ambitious, early stage social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. In addition to initial seed funding, participants can also apply for funding of up to £100,000 to match any investment they secure during the programme.

The Workshop has received £64,000 in investment – £39,000 from private investors and a further £25,000 from Social Investment Scotland – combined with £64,000 in match funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

LaunchMe has helped 22 social enterprises on their mission to secure investment and increase their social impact. The programme has attracted the attention of the Scottish angel investor community and has successfully brokered a number of investment deals worth over £600,000, bringing the total amount of social investment raised to almost £1 million.

The Workshop founder and manager Paul Parmenter said: “We are delighted to secure this investment and matched funding, with the support of Firstport. This will enable us to more than double our current production capacity, as well as developing new product ranges and offer training on different machinery.  This will widen our training, making it more relevant to more careers, and enable us to support more young and vulnerable people into training and employment.”

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “We are delighted that the Workshop has secured this funding which will enable them to offer training and employment opportunities to even more young and vulnerable people in rural Perthshire.

“Scotland has one of the strongest business angel communities in the world and a strong track record in helping start-up and early stage businesses achieve their ambitions. We are greatly encouraged by the number of these angels who are willing to support social enterprises such as The Workshop.”

Further information at www.firstport.org.uk/launchme.