Westbank Enterprises is officially launchedJohn Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North, officially launched a new horticultural project at Westbank Plant Nursery called Westbank Enterprises on Friday 23 May. The launch event was held in celebration of a new partnership between national employment, learning and skills charity, Shaw Trust, and Perth & Kinross Council.

The official launch of the horticultural project was held at the new social enterprise’s base at the Westbank Plant Nursery on Jeanfield Road in Perth, with Shaw Trust chief executive, Roy O’Shaughnessy, attending the event along with over 100 guests, including several MSPs and local organisations, as well as Shaw Trust and Perth & Kinross staff.

The horticultural project offers Perthshire jobseekers the opportunity to forge exciting careers and gain independence through six month employment placements. The project provides employment and training opportunities for people recovering from mental ill health and disabilities, as well as adults with learning difficulties who are currently supported by services provided by Perth & Kinross Council.

To help break down the barriers to long-term work and independence these people face, Perth & Kinross Council has partnered with Shaw Trust – a charity that helps people facing disadvantage into work, gain skills and take control of their futures – to provide supported work placements and volunteering opportunities.

The horticultural project offers people from Perthshire with disabilities or looking for work the chance to learn new skills and gain work experience as a way of finding long-term employment; while providing Perthshire’s keen gardeners and businesses with the plants, advice and equipment they need.

Perth & Kinross Council Housing & Health Convener Councillor Dave Doogan said: “The creation of a social enterprise at Westbank came about through the Housing and Community Care Transformation Project on Employability. This initiative will provide employment and training opportunities for vulnerable people currently supported by Perth & Kinross Council services. Ultimately the aim is to celebrate the exit of those individuals from the Social Enterprise into permanent employment opportunities or further training opportunities.”

Shaw Trust Chief Executive, Roy O’Shaughnessy, added: “We believe everyone should have the opportunity to find work, and actively contribute to family and community life. Our partnership with Perth & Kinross Council helps people to overcome the hurdles they might encounter on their journeys into employment, supporting them to learn new skills, gain all-important work experience and get their lives on track; while making valuable contributions to the welfare and wellbeing of their communities.”