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Nairn Academy pupils praised for creativity with new social enterprises

By Federica Stefani

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Teacher Jacky Davidson, Neil Harris, Ryan James, Lee MacFarlane and Iain Hyslop from My Future My Success. Front: Alice Armitt and Marley Mackie.
Teacher Jacky Davidson, Neil Harris, Ryan James, Lee MacFarlane and Iain Hyslop from My Future My Success. Front: Alice Armitt and Marley Mackie.

Pupils from Nairn Academy have set up their own businesses as part of a project to empower young people.

The group of 13 teenagers have established four different social enterprises as part of the My Future, My Success (MFMS) programme, which aims to develop skills for life, work and learning among young people.

From sweet treats to pet supplies, the students involved in the project were asked to present their ideas at an event held within the school, to fellow pupils, teachers and also a representative from Nairn Connects Business Improvement District.

Nairn Academy teacher Jacky Davidson, who has supported the class through the project, said: “It’s been great seeing the pupils grow and develop their skills. They initially had to present their business plans at a Dragons’ Den-style event at Ross County Football Club. Since then, their confidence has grown and it was wonderful to see them come up with the ideas for their social enterprises and then develop them to make sure they were viable and could be a success.”

Alice Armitt and Marley Mackie who created Fudgelicious.
Alice Armitt and Marley Mackie who created Fudgelicious.

The Nairn pupils created four businesses: Notelets of Nairn, Fudgelicious, Paws Bags and Marvellous Munchies.

Marley Mackie and Alice Armit created Fudgelicious, a confectionary social enterprise.

Marley said: “We loved making the fudge and it has been so great to have our own little business. It was nice to be responsible for something.”

Alice added: “Our social enterprise is to make money to get a friendship bench at one of the primary schools in Nairn. We both know what it is like to feel lonely. I like the fact that we have been given the freedom to do this and that we have been trusted.”

Lee MacFarlane worked on the Paws Bags business. Money raised through the social enterprise will support people who need financial support to feed their pets.”

Lee MacFarlane with Kate Benson of Handmade by Kate B.
Lee MacFarlane with Kate Benson of Handmade by Kate B.

That group were inspired by Kate Benson, who runs Handmade by Kate B and who visited the school to talk to the young people about her business.

Lee explained: “We knew we wanted to do something for animals and we thought about a cat café or selling cat pillows or biscuits, but once we met Kate, we thought making tote bags would be better. We came up with our own design and Kate then showed us how to print the bags.”

The young people will attend an event at Eden Court in Inverness where schools from all over the Highlands will gather to showcase their work.

Karen Stuart, co-chair of Nairn BID and owner of High Street shop Vitamin Sea, said: “This project is fantastic, and all of the businesses are brilliant. There is clearly a lot of thought that has gone into what will work. Nairn BID is looking forward to forming a strong relationship with the MFMS team and Nairn Academy.”

Iain Hyslop, MFMS development officer with High Life Highland, has been working with the young people at Nairn Academy.

He said: “This initiative is all about helping young people find and understand that there are positive destinations after school. It’s about helping them find a direction that works for them, empowering them and making them confident young people.

“This group of young people has created amazing social enterprises and they have all embraced the challenge. This is the first time that we have run a social enterprise initiative as part of the wider project and it’s been a huge success. It’s definitely something we want to run again next year. Not only have the teenagers risen to the challenge, but by partaking in this project, they also get an NPA enterprise and employability qualification.”

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