Business support for grant holders

Woman in wheelchair taking part in activities at Belville Community Garden TrustBig Lottery Fund Scotland recently partnered with the Social Investment Business (SIB) to provide business support to our grant holders. In this guest blog post, SIB’s Mary Jarvie talks us through how she was able to assist one of our current grant holders, the Belville Community Garden Trust (BCGT)

Last November I met with Janet from Belville Community Garden Trust to carry out a financial health check. Their organisation was established in 2014 by local people to bring the community together in a deprived area in the east end of Greenock. Its focus is on breaking down barriers, improving community relations, building pride in the local environment, and improving health and wellbeing – primarily through gardening, horticulture and healthy eating.

I met Janet at their community garden to talk through a wide range of issues including governance, partnerships, aspirations for the future, challenges and successes. To me it was clear that the organisation was destined for an exciting future and that Janet was keen to ensure its growth would be built on sound financial governance.

The health check I carried out concluded that Belville Community Garden Trust was a financially healthy organisation, with an aspirational and effective project manager, and an engaged and skilled board of local community members and organisation representatives.

However, the financial health check made some recommendations about its governance system. BCGT already had an agreed way of working across all relevant areas and was doing an excellent job. But for the future it was important to set a standard approach that everyone understood. I therefore suggested a list of policies for development and places to go for support and information.

Belville Community Garden Trust's garden on a sunny day

In addition to this I proposed a format for formalising the organisation’s financial governance, and provided a list of financial procedures and controls that should be developed as part of a financial procedures manual. The manual will act as a reference for board members, managers and other staff, particularly important as the organisation expands.

Janet told us she valued the support provided by the financial health check. The written report provided a useful ‘to do’ list, but it was the discussion Janet and I had about the future of the project that made the most significant impact – bouncing ideas off each other, talking through the nuances of managing a project with a wide range of impacts and challenges. Janet explains:

“The advice made me think about how to go forward, minimising risks, looking at alternative options.

“For me as an individual manager, it opened up new ideas for what I could be doing – strategic direction and financial planning. It helped me focus on long and short term aims and on business growth. It made me think more like a business and about being sustainable and it helped me visualise what I needed to do with the project.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the business support on offer from the Social Investment Business, please get in touch directly with your Funding Officer.

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