Joyce Murray, the founder of Positive Changes, shares her social enterprise journey with Firstport.
As a volunteer at HMP Cornton Vale Family Hub centre I quickly appreciated that every one of us is one decision away from this side of the fence or that. I saw the effect a woman in prison has on the family and friends and learned more about women and the criminal justice system in Scotland. Did you know <5% of the prison population is women? Did you know 43% of women leaving prison reoffend with a year? Did you know, on average, it costs £65,000 to imprison a woman and a further £45,000 for each year she remains in prison? Did you know there are 3 things which help break the cycle of reoffending: family relationships, a home and a job? Yet women with convictions face huge barriers to gaining employment. I wanted to offer the women the opportunity to bring down some of the barriers and make positive change in their lives. Some people ask, Why chocolates? I couldn’t find a beautiful box of handmade chocolates to give as a gift and decided to make my own, and get the women to help.
After identifying a social cause, and a business idea to help make a positive change in her community, Joyce’s next step was finding the right support and funding to make her idea a reality.
Funding from Firstport came along at just the right time. When the award came along, the organisation had been incorporated just over a year before, our market presence was growing and more women were accessing our services. Receiving the award has made a huge difference allowing to becoming established and setting us on the right footing for growth.
Setting up and running a social enterprise is not an easy task, and Joyce met a few challenges along the way.
The main challenges are keeping all the balls in the air at one time: growing sales of chocolates, building relationships with agencies who refer the women to us, delivering support to the women, developing new and exciting chocolates, fulfilling orders of chocolates, protecting our intellectual property, building the brand, marketing, accounts, recruiting and training staff, maintaining a social media presence …
However, with hard work and advice, Positive Changes (CIC) is flourishing and is making plans for the future.
I hope we can continue to grow supporting more and more women and selling more and more chocolates. The criminal justice system for women in Scotland is changing. I would love for Positive Changes to be an integral part of the new offering for women in each of the new Community Custody Units and the National Facility in Scotland.”
Have you got a social enterprise that has a proven track record of success? Been trading for less than 2 years? Get in contact to see if you qualify for our Build It award. (Next deadline is April 11th)