Dundee Presbytery mulls social enterprise to help unemployed

Rev Robert Calvert
Rev Robert Calvert, minister of Steeple Church in Dundee is a member of Dundee Presbytery's Mission and Discipleship committee.

The Presbytery of Dundee is discussing a proposal for churches to form a social enterprise that would train young adults in event management and other skills while offering practical work experience in churches and other community charities.

Lewis Rose, Convener of Dundee Presbytery's Mission and Discipleship committee said the Presbytery has given his committee the green light as it begins looking into the idea.

"We are still at the consultation stage," he said. "We need to find out if other area churches need this kind of help and would be interested in participating, and we need to make sure that whatever we do fits in with what other organisations are doing. We do not want to reinvent the wheel.

"We are working with Faith in Community Dundee to see what is needed and what is possible to achieve here."

Danny Ogierman of Faith in Community Dundee welcomed the idea and said he was gathering information from churches and local organisations.

"We're keen to link up with other groups working in this area such as organisations tackling youth unemployment," he said. "We would really like to see this take off, but at the moment we're still at the consultation stage."

Rev Robert Calvert, the minister at Steeple Church, said churches need help managing their buildings and hosting events, while unskilled young adults need training and work experience opportunities.

"What I was seeing was a lot of people on the street begging," he said.

"Dundee has a high unemployment rate, which has seen very little improvement. There are job opportunities in computer science, video game technology and connected to the two universities, but there is no easy stepping stone for young adults who have had poor experiences with education and need training and skills.

"At the same time Steeple Church, like many other churches and community organisations, has invested in refurbishments so our building can be used throughout the week for conferences trainings and events.

"We have volunteers, but they are not 17 and 18 any more", he said. "So we need a sustainable way to manage our events. This would be an opportunity for young people to learn a wide variety of event skills such as caretaking, reception, working with the public, event set-up and breakdown and audio-visual technologies.

"If this is something other churches and indeed other community organisations are interested in, why don't we train young people in these skills? They possibly could then go on to bigger and better things."

Mr Calvert, a minister, and Mr Rose, a deacon, both have experience working in Kirk priority areas. Mr Calvert spent 12 years in Drumchapel before his last posting in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Mr Rose has worked with struggling residents of Dundee.