Grow to Work
Grow to Work (GtW) is a business based at Thornylee, near Galashiels, which provides a stable and sustainable work experience and training programme for young adults from a range of backgrounds. Some of their trainees have learning disabilities, and others are just unable to find work due to limited educational qualifications and a lack of opportunities in the jobs’ market.
GtW is a social enterprise, meaning that it is driven by social and environmental purposes rather than profit. Its programme employs a buddy system, partnering young people with learning disabilities with those from mainstream education for mutual benefit. It promotes social inclusion, challenges the impact of economic isolation and helps give confident individuals who are more able to make positive life choices.
Through its work experience and training programme, GtW can offer a solution to the ‘what now?’ scenario which faces the families of many young people during life transitions.
They also help trainees in developing fundamental life skills such as learning to drive, manage their personal finances and make healthy lifestyle choices. Providing meaningful employment that is within their capabilities, will help young people increase their self-esteem and prevent issues affecting physical and mental well-being which are caused by inactivity.
The programme is run by Grow to Work C.I.C., a community interest company limited by guarantee and registered in Scotland number SC431828, and is managed by a board of three directors.
In order for Grow to Work to be self-sustaining, it plans to develop its range of income generating activities to give both the employment opportunities sought by trainees, and provide enough revenue to keep the programme running and allow trainees to be paid a fair wage for their effort. These will include:
Cooking and baking: With suitable culinary facilities, they plan to start an operation to produce jams and chutneys from the fruit and vegetables grown by the trainees at Thornylee.
Small pet boarding: They have identified that there is no provision for small animal boarding in the area, and consider Grow to Work to be in an excellent position to provide this. ‘Small Furry Animals’ would provide a useful service for local people and employment opportunities in a wide range of skills for trainees: care of animals, business skills and practice in woodwork making and maintaining the hutches.
Community cafe: Thornylee House was formerly a hotel which in its heyday served afternoon teas in the garden. Grow to Work could bring this back by creating a community café and visitor attraction which could incorporate the large garden and plant nursery beside the busy A72 between Galashiels and Innerleithen. They are also looking to build a wood burning pizza oven to cook homemade pizzas outdoors.
Ground care: They want to expand their capacity and take on more gardening and ground-keeping contracts from personal and business customers – using their lawn tractor to cut grass and maintain healthy lawns.
Wood crafts: They will sell items, both big and small, which have been crafted from wood.