By Alea Ibrahim, Communications Intern for EVOC 150 Heritage Programme
Locals and people from all over the world enjoyed family activities and a jam-packed entertainment programme of Highland dancing, storytelling and music until late in the evening. Social enterprises are set up like other businesses but use the profits to reinvest into causes with a social impact. Some of Edinburgh’s social enterprises joined the event to showcase their work and volunteers from across the city were socialising with the visitors.
Cooking Classes with Cyrenians Good Food
Manning the Cyrenians stall Viki Fox, Cookery Tutor, of Cyrenians’ Good Food Programme said that since Prue Leith from the Great British Bake-Off opened the brand-new, purpose-built Good Food kitchen in Jane Street at the beginning of the year, they have had a busy programme.
Viki said: “We are teaching cooking classes funded by the council and we are doing evening classes for adults, the money made from that goes back into the service. We do kids classes during the summer holidays and there is a supper club for refugees trying to get a business going.” Cyrenians is currently celebrating their 50th anniversary of supporting Edinburgh’s vulnerable citizens with a large network of services.
Business Advice to Ice-Cream
Michelle Craig, from Citizens Advice Scotland attended the event to promote the organisation’s services, but also ended up giving some fairly unusual advice. She said: “Many were interested in advice and services on how to set up their own business but we give advice on anything really. Someone needed advice on where the nearest ice-cream was.”
Invisible Cities taking a stand
Invisible Cities trains homeless citizens as guides who create their own tours around the city while the organisation helps them back on their feet, into employment and housing.
Alice from Invisible Cities, explained how one of their trained guides had recently turned his situation around, she said: “ The guide and his son had been homeless and on benefits due to a range of unfortunate circumstances when they came to Invisible Cities but it was really important for him to come off benefits. He became a tour guide and recently started a new job as a chauffeur, he was working until 3 o’clock this morning before coming here. That’s dedication for you!”
In keeping with Edinburgh’s other festivals, this year’s Social in the Gardens had an international focus. Alice continued: “We receive inquiries from all over Europe, a lady from Australia approached us today and wants to do something similar there.”
A call for social justice
Edinburgh Social Enterprise has been organising this event since 2014 but this year has been a remarkable success with over 30 stalls and 160% more visitors than in previous years.
Chatting to people on the stalls reflects that while a lot of organisations are working to tackle social inequality, poverty and homelessness, the problems still prevail. Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council grew out of concern over the health and social inequalities between people in the city. Founded in 1868, it is now celebrating its 150th year.
EVOC150 is marking this year with a series of collaborations and events, to strengthen the third sector and continue the fight for social justice.