A Fresh Perspective on Social Enteprise and the Third Sector

Posted: 29 November 2023, in Blog

The Gathering 2023 was full of firsts.  

This was my first Gathering event working for Social Enterprise Scotland, the first Gathering in Edinburgh and there was even an appearance from the First Minister, Humza Yousaf.      

With over 3000 attendees it was clear as to why The Gathering is such a crucial and enjoyable event in the third sector calendar. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet so many people working on incredible projects, the lower level spilling out with over 70 exhibitors with as many sweeties I could stomach.  

If the chocolates from the exhibitors weren’t enough of a reason to enjoy myself, the sessions the Gathering hosted were engaging and informative. A special acknowledgement to the event, ‘Your date with our data: insights from the sector and the Scottish Public’ which was chaired by Dr Sarah Weakley with the Diffley Partnership, OSCR and SCVO. They gave a fascinating insight into the data that can drive our decision making.  

The power of data should not be overlooked, it was interesting to get a glimpse of the inner workings of OSCR, giving their insights into the referrals that are made to them daily, the work they be able to do with their recent acquire powers, and their projection for the number of new and retiring charities in the next financial year. The Diffley Partnership gave insight into public attitudes with their work on ‘Understanding Scotland’ as this provided a quantitative level of trust the public puts into the sector. SCVO’s data from their third sector tracker was of added interest as the issues that charities and social enterprises have cross over significantly.   

Data insights may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the variety of events meant there was something for everyone. 

The session was a great follow on from the First Minster’s statement in the morning, which highlighted the #EssentialSector with hopes for a budget that can provide for the sector especially with a looming council tax freeze. Humza Yousaf was excellently held to account by SCVO’s Head of Policy and Research, Kristen Hogg. The Q+A session was a welcomed layer of accountability for the First Minster, who admitted this was his first Gathering as well, not something he will forget soon, I am sure.  

The Gathering is not just about networking across the sector, but about showcasing the fantastic work that takes place all over Scotland. It is work that could not be done without the passion and dedicated work of volunteers across the country. The Gathering is a celebration of all of this. It may have been my first, but it will not be the last. I am looking forward to 2024 already!  

Andy Paterson, Policy Officer, Social Enterprise Scotland