It's Christmas-time already for Macaulay College Community Interest Company – and they have high hopes for the New Year, too.
And to find out how to make that 12 months even better, you have a chance to win one of their new Macaulay College designed Christmas jumpers; another new product or a farm tour!
Macaulay College C.I.C., supports adults and young people with social and educational requirements to have meaningful and fulfilling working and social lives.
Based three miles outside Stornoway at Macaulay Farm, students have opportunities to take part in a wide range of activities including animal care, art and craft, horticulture, baking and cooking.
Macaulay College started 12 years ago with one student and now supports more than 20 students and has a staff of 16. In 2021 they received funding to create a one-year Development Worker Post which has allowed time and opportunity to take forward plans the college has.
Some key developments the college has been able to take forward recently through the Business Gateway CERGS Grant is the connection of electricity to the two timber buildings, 400m from the main college building and the purchasing of materials to improve them internally.
"This project is being completed at present with a joiner installing the insulation and OSB in one of them. Another step forward comes at the start of November when we will see the installing of an accessible Portakabin Toilet Unit beside the timber buildings, through NHS Capital Grant Funding and SLCF grant."
As a support service, the main income generated comes from student places through Social work, Education and NHS referrals. In order to develop facilities and improve resources, the college aims to operate more sustainably by developing and increasing income streams. Their jam and chutney production, using fruit and vegetables grown on the farm, has proved so popular that it is now stocked in several shops in Stornoway (Empty House Traders, Good Food Boutique and Delights) as well a range of greetings cards based on student artwork and hand poured soy candles (Empty House Traders and Chimney & Gable).
Jo-Ann McConnachie, Development Worker said: ‘Earlier this year we invited HIE Head of Enterprise Support, Kathleen Stewart and Donald Murray, Senior Development Manager to visit the college and to tell them about our plans and to see if they had any advice for us.
"Since then HIE have been really supportive in drawing our attention to training, information sources and potential funding opportunities to help us take these key steps we need to develop.
"In September I started the fully funded Skillsfluence Pathfinder Accelerator Programme through HIE, a 16 week course where participants can accelerate their new products through practical tools, techniques to interrogate their idea, plan for opportunities and optimise marketplace success.
"Through this course we are aiming to develop a range of products based on our unique setting at Macaulay College and our amazing student artwork.’
‘A key element of this programme is to find out what customers want, with this in mind we need you, the readers, to help by completing a short questionnaire on our website that will help inform our ideas to give us the best chance of success. We are asking if people could please visit www.macaulaycollege.com and complete the questionnaire.
"One lucky participant will have a chance to win our fabulous new Christmas Jumper, another new product or a farm tour. We are really committed to developing these products, not only for the huge boost it will give the students to see their art work taken to the next level and to know that they are contributing their talents to a place that means a lot to them but this will also help the college to get a step nearer building the much needed extension that will allow us to support even more students and meet more needs.