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Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 – The Role Of Social Enterprise

Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 – The Role Of Social Enterprise

Emma Jardine

Last year saw a hugely successful year for British sport and the eyes of the world were firmly fixed on London and the Olympic Games. With tickets going on sale this week for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, this sporting focus has now turned to Glasgow. The building works are well under way, recruitment of the 15,000 volunteers needed has begun and - most significantly – Clyde, the mascot for the Games has been touring the length and breadth of the country! But what about the role that social enterprises have to play in what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest sporting events ever seen in Glasgow?

London 2012 saw a number of social enterprises playing key roles in the delivery of the games, with perhaps one of the best examples being Greenwich Leisure Limited. GLL was involved with London 2012 from the outset - from “backing the bid” to providing operational support and expert consultancy, to securing the contract to run two key Olympic venues. As a charitable social enterprise, GLL considers social values to be just as important as financial performance. GLL has, over the last 20 years, invested millions into sports and leisure services in London and sees the opportunities the Olympics has brought, and will continue to bring in years to come, as invaluable to achieving its charitable purposes.

So, what opportunities exist for social enterprises in the run up to, during, and after, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games?

When Glasgow was awarded the Commonwealth Games, Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEiS), in conjunction with Glasgow City Council and One Scotland, carried out research to assess the readiness of the social enterprise sector ahead of the Games. The research identified key areas in which social enterprises could potentially operate: volunteering, production of gifts and promotional items, supply of labour, event support, food production and waste management.

With only a year to go until the start of the Games, social enterprises are already making their presence known. In the east end of Glasgow, Unity Enterprise has, for the past 2 years, been running the Spoon Café on the construction site of the National Indoor Sports Area and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Unity Enterprise is a social enterprise which provides training, work experience and employment for young people and adults experiencing disabilities and other social disadvantage.

The advantages of social enterprises becoming involved in Glasgow 2014 are clear to see and the track record of London 2012 serves to highlight these advantages.  However, a number of social enterprises have identified key areas of concern that they feel may act as a barrier to their involvement in the provision of services at Glasgow 2014. These include the size and scale of their organisation, their geographical location and issues regarding procurement.

With these barriers in mind, it seems that an obvious solution to alleviate some of these concerns would be for social enterprises to collaborate with other social enterprises in order to access the opportunities for larger-scale contracts - reaching a wider geographic coverage, range of skill sets, and availability of resource, as well as being able to share the risk and the reward.

What is clear is that the opportunities are there for the taking. Social enterprises played a significant role in London 2012 and have done so in previous Olympics and other sporting events across the world. To ensure that social enterprises in Scotland don’t miss out on the opportunities that Glasgow 2014 has to offer, it is important that they start to communicate with each other.  

Emma Jardine