A Dumfries-based social enterprise, supported by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), is encouraging organisations across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders to take steps to begin their Fair Work journey.
Inspired Community Enterprise Trust (ICET) was the first organisation in Dumfries and Galloway to become a Disability Confident Leader, meaning they are a role model in taking action to provide opportunities to disabled people by improving how they recruit, retain and develop people with disabilities.
ICET implements the five key areas which make up Fair Work – Respect, Opportunity, Security, Effective Voice and Fulfilment.
The organisation offers extensive opportunities for training and education as well as employability skills for young people with additional support needs.
In many cases, before being supported by ICET, these individuals are overlooked by other employers and left feeling excluded from society and at risk of isolation and loneliness.
Supported by SOSE, ICET has become best known for its training provision within a working community venue commonly known as ‘The Usual Place’.
In addition to offering employment opportunities for young people with additional needs, The Usual Place provides event space, retail and a community café within its historic building in Dumfries town centre.
ICET encourages employees at The Usual Place to fulfil their potential as active, valuable citizens within society by offering them the opportunity to undertake employment which makes a positive contribution to the community.
ICET co-founder, Heather Hall, is keen to make other organisations aware that investing time and effort into fair working practice can be mutually beneficial for employees and employers alike.
Heather said: “Providing opportunities to young people with learning disabilities can be a hugely rewarding experience – both for them and for us.
“We promote the innate talents and capabilities of our young people, so that they feel empowered and able to flourish in all that they do.
“Our staff and volunteers are our biggest asset – but it’s not just about providing them with employment – it’s about helping the team find purpose and fulfilment within their lives.”
As ICET is well versed in implementing Fair Work principles, the social enterprise now sees itself as having a responsibility to be a role model to encourage other organisations who are perhaps not as advanced to begin their Fair Work journey.
ICET has challenged employers across the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway to step up to the challenge of implementing Fair Work in their organisations and emphasises the importance of viewing Fair Work as a journey, not a tick-box exercise.
Craig McEwen, Chief Operating Officer at The Usual Place, added: “Organisations have to try to make things a little bit less daunting for themselves – think about how your organisation is already implementing fair working principles and build on those first.
“Also, do your research – look at examples of the good, the bad and the ugly of Fair Work, as this will help you to see where your business is at on its journey and what it needs to do to progress.
“It is also really important to talk to other organisations who are trying to introduce fair working principles, as you may gain some useful insights from them that can help you with your own organisation’s journey.”
Committing to Fair Work can improve organisational reputation, as well as aiding recruitment, reducing staff turnover and creating diverse workplaces which benefit from richness of talent and a diversity of ideas.
There is a wealth of ways in which organisations can take steps to implement Fair Work principles – and SOSE is eager to assist organisations with advice and support regardless of where they are on their journey.
Sandra Campbell, Fair Work Development Manager at SOSE, said: “It is evident that ICET is incredibly advanced in its Fair Work journey.
“However, it is worth noting that the only thing required for an organisation to be successful in implementing Fair Work is its commitment to embracing and implementing the principles of the framework, from whatever its starting point.
“SOSE is here to support organisations no matter what stage they are at in their Fair Work journey – and we strongly encourage people to reach out to us for help if they need it.”
Businesses who need help and support with their Fair Work journey can contact SOSE at www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/FairWork