Growing up into young adulthood is a turbulent time for many, however for some youngsters it’s significantly more difficult. Family are often the source of guidance when learning to be self-sufficient - but what happens when you don’t have that support? Inverness-shire local, Isobel Grigor, was inspired to launch a social care service that would give young people more opportunities to succeed when leaving school or the family home, no matter what their circumstances. And just like that, Calman Trust was born.
Offering a range of services to young people across the Highlands, Calman Trust has established itself as a support line for many young people who are looking to live independently. With an innovative approach, Calman has developed a wide range of accessible services that youngsters can use as much or as little as they desire. From housing support, or accredited training, to cooking services and even employment and skills training through Calman’s owned restaurant and catering business, Café Artysans, the organisation is there for those who need it most.
We set up Café Artysans in 2010 as a means for our young people to develop skills and get ready for life through real experience.
Launched in 1998, Calman has established itself as a lifeline for locals and has gone from helping just four young people in the first year to around 400 in 2017. Speaking of her motivation to kick-start the enterprise, Chief Executive, Isobel Grigor, said:
“We knew there were young people in the area who, for whatever reasons, could no longer live at home. With homeless regulations only coming into place in 2003, we saw a gap in the help readily available and decided we need to do something to change this. Initially we were working to help those who were already in difficulty but as the years have gone by, and our services are becoming more recognisable, we’re now able to engage with those individuals before their situation spirals negatively.
“We set up Café Artysans in 2010 as a means for our young people to develop skills and get ready for life through real experience. However, we wanted this to be of a commercial quality that our customers would value and want to come back and support, time and time again.”
Working with young adults in a world that’s constantly evolving, Isobel and her team learned of the importance of innovating as a means to speak to service users on their level. Living in a digital age, where mobiles are a core element of any young adults’ life, Isobel recognised the need for a new communication tool that would allow them to engage with their consumers on a different level.
Isobel continued: “When we decided that a web-based platform was the next natural step in our business journey we outreached to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Innovation Team for their support. They advised us to apply for one of their innovation grants which we did so successfully. Using the money from HIE we were able to take the ideas from our heads and develop a prototype.
“This digital tool allows us to take our core content on support and reach many more individuals across the Highlands than we’ve ever been able to before. In fact, it can fill a gap in services for young people in any part of the country. The webpage will give practical advice on ways of looking after yourself to avoid getting into difficult situations. Frequent questions such as ‘what do I do if I can’t afford to pay my rent, and where can I go for help?’ will be answered in this app, and ultimately it will allow people to learn how to manage life for themselves, with easy access to support if they need it.”
Across the past few years, Calman has been account managed by HIE, providing a consistent support line and voice of guidance on how to progress with its business in the most effective way possible. Talking of their ongoing relationship, Isobel said:
“What’s most notable of the team at HIE is their genuine interest and drive to help businesses achieve what they want to achieve. They’re driven, genuine people, fixed on doing the best they can for local businesses, and that’s something we really value.
“Working with the team has also helped develop our own understanding of what innovation means and how we can best utilise this. At Calman, innovation sits at the centre of everything we do. In a rapidly changing world, the needs of young people change constantly, so we need to adapt and find new ways to meet their needs, ensuring this has been tried and tested before rolling out.
“I think if there is one piece of advice I could give to another business considering innovating it would be to not shy away from it. Have the courage to test your ideas and don’t be afraid of finding out that it won’t work. Backed up with the ability to adapt, this an essential part of learning.”
Innovation is helping Calman Trust stay ahead of the game and it can for you too.
Businesses looking to sign up to access HIE’s innovation services can visit hie.co.uk/hietime or call 0300 013 5041 for expert info on what funding and innovation resources are available from HIE.
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