Spotlight on Greyfriars Charteris Centre

Posted: 11 June 2024, in Member Spotlight

We’re joined by Greyfriars Charteris Centre in our latest member spotlight. Based in Edinburgh, Greyfriars Charteris Centre is a place for community, connection and wellbeing, providing a base and support for social enterprises, charities, local groups and activities. We spoke to Alex Alderton, Centre Administrator to find out more about the organisation, what they do and their plans for the upcoming year.

What does your social enterprise do?

The Greyfriars Charteris Centre fosters community, connection, and wellbeing by providing a base for social enterprises, charities, and local community groups in the form of bookable halls, meeting rooms, offices and desk space. We embrace diversity and seek to provide a warm welcome to all, promoting care for individuals, communities, and the environment. 

How do you do it? 

The Centre has offices, meeting rooms, halls and desks available to hire, fostering networking and collaboration between the groups that use our spaces. Hosting private and corporate events enables us to provide discounted rates to charitable organisations as well as to fund our own community events, from coffee mornings to ceilidhs and more. 

Why should someone buy/use your product/services? What are the benefits and what makes your organisation unique? 

Booking with us supports our community events which are always free and open to all. 

We are constantly seeking to improve the building so every time you book it helps us improve the space for everyone in the future, including you! Plus, we are just 15 minutes’ walk from Waverley Station, offering flexible spaces run by friendly staff who will do their best to make your event a success. A redevelopment of the Centre was completed in early 2022 and our spaces are now fully accessible for wheelchair users with accessible toilets, improved heating/lighting, and solar panels, offering modern and comfortable spaces in a historical building.  

What is your personal motivation? 

For me community is one of the most important and necessary things humans need in order to thrive. I really value working somewhere that facilitates people connecting, sharing, and doing good things together. It is also important to me that we consider the natural world in all that we do, and at the Charteris Centre we do our best to support groups taking action against climate change and encourage sustainable practices. 

What is the current focus for your social enterprise? 

Since the redevelopment (which was completed in 2022) we have become ever busier, and we have built a great team that keeps things running smoothly. We are now looking at how we can develop what we offer and expand our reach further, focusing particularly on marginalised communities in our local area. 

What exciting things do you have coming up? 

Our regular coffee mornings continue to be popular and take place every other Thursday. These are a great way to get to know our community and find out more about the Centre. We are currently in negotiations with the City of Edinburgh Council to take on the Braidwood Centre, a community space in Dumbiedykes. 

Who do you want to work with more? 

We work closely with the University of Edinburgh and are in the process of developing more collaborative projects with them, such as offering placements to students in various disciplines.  

What’s your biggest challenge? 

Like many third sector organisations funding is probably our biggest challenge. Whilst our income from bookings sustains our day-to-day operations, we would love to be able to offer more free events for the community. Keeping the building in top condition requires a lot of maintenance. We also find that despite our hard-working and committed team of staff and volunteers, we could often do with an extra pair of hands! 

Where do you see your organisation in 5 years? 

In five years, we hope to be embedded as a go-to venue for events and desk space in Edinburgh. We would love to see our calendar full of free events to meet the needs of those who live, work and travel in the Southside and beyond, as well as continuing to facilitate the work of others. 

What top tips would you give to other social enterprises? 

Working at the Charteris Centre has shown me that small organisations can have large ambitions, and you can achieve more than you think through creativity, resourcefulness and thinking outside the box! 

For more information about Greyfriars Charteris Centre, please visit their website and make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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