Our very brave team members, Kylie Fagan and Celisse Ruiz are keen wild swimmers, a hobby that is not for the faint-hearted when you consider how cold the water is in Scotland. Yet for many fans of wild swimming, it is this shock of cold water and the mental clarity it brings that they love. Kylie notes; “After I go swimming, especially in the depths of an icy Scottish winter, my mood is massively improved, I feel absolutely brilliant, and the endorphin rush really picks you up.” and if this is the effect it has, it is no wonder so many people took up wild swimming during the pandemic and have stuck with it even after lockdowns eased.
As we have learnt more from Kylie and Celisse about wild swimming and loved seeing the beautiful pictures from their daily dips (included in this article), it got us thinking about how a hobby such as this, which brings so much enjoyment, also highlights areas where services are missing and can lead to a whole new adventure of setting up a social enterprise as a result. Take for example Seabirds Swim shop in Brighton, a Community Interest Company that aims to promote outdoor swimming as a way to improve wellbeing. Seabirds sell all the items needed by intrepid wild swimmers and the profits are then used to support initiatives such as Surfers against Sewage, Leave no Trace Brighton and Black Swimming Association’s DIPER Charter, to support wellbeing, inclusion for all and community resilience.
In Scotland, Colin Campbell set up Swim for Good, a social enterprise that supports people to overcome social, mental and physical barriers preventing them from participating in open-water swimming. Colin teaches people how to become confident and safe open-water swimmers, meaning they can enjoy their new hobby with total confidence. Colin was previously a journalist but decided that he wanted to take his passion for swimming and turn it into a business that allowed him to do what he loved, but that also had a social purpose.
Bike for Good (formerly the Bike Shed) was created in 2010 out of a passion for cycling and making it more accessible to all through refurbishing unwanted bikes, which in turn stopped them from going to landfill. From one small stall at the Barras on weekends to now having three thriving Community Hubs in Glasgow and a team of 42 staff members and 50 + volunteers. It shows how one small idea can have a huge impact.
We work with lots of different groups every year, and it is really rewarding to work with clients who are truly passionate about the mission of their organisation. Maybe you have a hobby that you are considering turning into an enterprise or know somebody who is; if that is the case, then make sure to signpost them to the Accelerate programme and the Social Enterprise Map so they can find all the support they need throughout their social enterprise journey.