East End Canteen Serves Up Social Enterprise Jobs

Posted: 22 June 2010, in Sector News

By Stephen Naysmith

It means I’m not sitting in the house, bored.

I’ll be showing new staff how to serve hot food to customers and work the tills,” explains David McDade.

McDade, 28, from Castlemilk, has learning disabilities, but is one of the staff at a newly opened canteen for workers on the site of the National Indoor Sports Arena and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome being constructed in Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The catering operation is being run by Unity Enterprises, a social enterprise which aims to help marginalised people find employment.

Providing construction workers with morning fry-ups, hot meals in the daytime, as well as drinks and snacks, the food and drink outlet is expected to have a turnover of some £200,000 a year over the next two years, dwarfing the existing Unity outlet – the city centre cafe Spoons.

Spoons is where McDade has been working for the last seven years. Before that, he was working as a cleaner, also for Unity.

He’s excited about the new opportunity, and the Commonwealth Games themselves. “I think it is ideal for Glasgow that they are building this and trying to get young people to get into fitness and sport, and not sitting around or causing trouble,” he says.

McDade is one of 112,000 people helped by Unity since its inception 20 years ago. The social enterprise, which works in housing, services for carers and training and work experience for people with learning difficulties, won the exclusive contract through Glasgow City Council’s community benefit clauses for major construction projects.

These clauses require contractors to employ new entrant trainees and liaise closely with Local Regeneration Agencies to engage those wishing to access employment opportunities.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “This will mean that local people have the chance to get a job and gain skills, underlining the positive impact our community benefit clauses have on those working near to major projects the council is involved in.”

George McSorley, Unity Enterprise’s chief executive, said: “This is a model of partnership which we hope to develop in order to create opportunities for our service users.”

He continued: “The opportunity to be involved in such a prestigious project will excite and instil confidence in the people who work with us or use our services.”

The National Indoor Sports Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – which will be one of the biggest indoor sports facilities of its type in Europe – will be located on a 10.5 hectare site in the East End of Glasgow, close to Celtic Park and the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village. It is due to open in 2011