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A Passion and a Business Model that took a Member from Undervalued Teenager to Honours Graduate

When Graham Polhill arrived at Grassmarket Furniture he told us he had experienced a childhood of not being recognised and feeling undervalued.  He was a quiet, withdrawn and lacking confidence. He experienced bullying and felt alone. He attended a school for children with behavioural problems and was left much of the time, in his words ‘doodling’ as long as he didn’t misbehave. He describes a school and childhood with little to stimulate him or interest him and certainly no one seemed to care. When Graham left school he left with no qualifications and little confidence. He left with a dislike of classrooms and education. Coming to Grassmarket Community Project and supported by our team he discovered a talent and a passion for woodwork. More importantly, he discovered a group of people, staff, volunteers and fellow members, that were proud of any and all of his achievements. He discovered a place where he could learn and contribute to other people’s lives. Graham went on to achieve an HND in Carpentry at Edinburgh College, winning ‘Student of the Year  2 years ago and this week Graham graduated with an Honours Degree in Furniture Design at Oxford Brookes University


The Grassmarket Community Project are so happy for Graham. We are also grateful to our workshop, events and cafe customers along with the our social enterprise model to enabled us to have supported Graham throughout his journey. This model of funding enabled us to be there with Graham free of time limits and not according to where he was at in his development but throughout his entire journey, whenever he needed us and for as long as he needed us. Graham attended the Workshop during all his college and Uni holidays – often teaching Tommy and Susan (our workshop managers/instructors) things they didn’t know! Graham maintained contact throughout the last 5 years with us at all times sometimes expressing his feeling that we were like his family. Graham’s passion for woodwork is exceptional and is well illustrated by this funny story from Tommy Steel, Senior Manager at the project:

“We were delivering some furniture to a church in Gretna. There was myself, Graham and another member of the team in the van. We were almost at Gretna and Graham hadn’t stopped talking about woodwork the whole journey. As much as I like woodwork, it still becomes a bit monotonous when someone doesn’t stop talking about it. I tried every technique to change the subject but no matter how hard I tried Graham always brought it back to woodwork. He would talk about the kind of furniture he would make in the future. He would describe the layout of his workshop and the service he would provide for his customers in incredible detail. Eventually I said, “Right thats it Graham. Is there anything you are interested in other than woodwork? Have you any other interests?” He thought for a while then said: “Well, yes, computer games.”  Great, I thought. “Graham, tell me about the computer game you’re playing.” He replied, “oh there is this brilliant game I am playing at the moment. The main hero character is this joiner right…” “Aaaaaaagh!!” I laughed and screamed.

I knew then that Graham’s customers were going to enjoy the finest, well built and exceptionally well designed furniture. What an incredible passion.”

A huge congratulations to Graham Polhill. B.A. (Hons)




Social In the Gardens

We are delighted to be participating in Edinburgh Social Enterprises exciting Social in the Gardens 2017 on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd August an event aimed at informing, inspiring and entertaining.  Its a free two day, family friendly event showcasing high quality goods and services from a selection of Edinburgh’s 260 social enterprises – businesses where profits go to support communities and social change. There’ll be an exciting programme of live music and performance events, a pop up market, art exhibition and installations, storytelling, book readings, kids activities and a family ceilidh each afternoon all in the centre of Princes St Gardens.

Join us at the world famous Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens 



We’ll be selling a range of Grassmarket Tartans and original Greyfriars Tartan gifts and accessories as well as some Grassmarket Furniture small gifts. We’ll be selling hot dogs, burgers, baked potatoes and ice cream throughout the two days – all served by our award winning Events and Catering team as well serving soft drinks and delicious alcoholic beverages including Pilot Brewery, a Leith based micro-brewer Blonde on draught and Brewgooder Scotland’s unique beer with a conscience pioneered by a partnership between Brewdog, Edinburgh’s Leading Craft Beer Company and The Hunter Foundation. It all adds up to a festival and event with a difference – where all the products and services present make a difference to the customer whilst making a difference to the lives of many of our most vulnerable and marginalised individuals and groups at no extra cost.

ewan-breadmaking02Cafe Supervisor John Scally jokes with a customer

The Scotch Whisky Experience Supports Grassmarket Charity

We are delighted to have received a generous donation of One thousand pounds from the Scotch Whisky Experience local attraction.  Support from local businesses are vital to us ensuring we continue to support our most vulnerable and social isolated.

£1000 will meet many costs for example the cost of two of our self-esteem 6 week courses, our Choir all year (so it along with all our activities is free for our members to benefit from) or will enable us to provide 40 free counselling sessions to help our members survive trauma, diagnosis of  terminal illness, loss or family breakdown.  3 quarters of people with long term mental health issues are unable to work and they now outnumber those with physical disabilities and illnesses who are also unemployed. The Grassmarket Community Project with the help of local businesses like the Scotch Whisky Centre can support people – journey alongside them and be a place they can turn to now, for as long as it takes and even after, they have made transitions in their lives.

The Scotch Whisky Experience is a five star visitor attraction at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, where they’ve been inspiring visitors to Edinburgh about the joys of Scotch whisky for over 25 years. They offer: tours, a shop and restaurant, events, tastings and know all there is to know about Scotland’s dram. They are a fabulous company and have supported fundraisers in the project as well as been a retail outlet for our Grassmarket Tartans social enterprise. We are exceptionally grateful to their team and in particular Julie Trevisan Hunter (pictured), Tony Dick (Picture mid) and Rosie Willmot (behind the camera) for visiting the project today and making the donation. It was a delight to show them around the project and introduce them to staff and members.

Scotch Whisky Experience handing over the donation

Castle Chorus Summer Concert raises funds for our charity

The glorious sound of the Castle Chorus choir echoed around our building last night to a an audience of over 70 people. The Choir kindly offered to raise funds for the project as well which are incredibly grateful for. People walking buy the busy Grassmarket area heard the music and wondered in. The choir sang traditional songs from Macedonia, America, Nigeria, contemporary folk music from Scotland and our own original songs including a bit of performance poetry in there. It was a lovely evening and we hope they come back soon.

The Choir practice every  Thursday 6.30-8.30pm and is run by the highly talented Caro Overy.

For more information go to their facebook page an or email

Recruitment of a Finance Officer


The Grassmarket Community Project is an Edinburgh based charity that supports vulnerable adults. We are recruiting a finance officer to help us manage the increasing complexity, size and breadth of our operations including an activity programme 7 days a week and 5 social enterprises.

The post is 12 hours a week – which should reflect the priorities of the business over the month and year and to meet deadlines balanced with the successful candidates wider family and work commitments.

Apply before Friday 7th July and join our dynamic team and become part of an award winning outwardly looking social enterprise and charity.

Job Title: Finance Officer/Accountant
Reporting to: Chief Executive

Hours & Salary: 12 hours per week £16 phr (sub contracted – invoiced monthly)
Location: Work from Home & be available to attend meetings onsite
86 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QA

We are looking for a Finance Officer to take charge of the financial health of our organisation by administering accounting operations to meet legal requirements and good practice as well all our responsibilities as a charity.

Purpose of the Role:
To ensure reliable accurate financial records and reports are compiled monthly which assist the CEO and Treasurer to plan and execute spending and measure performance against income targets

Main Duties & Responsibilities:

• Ensuring records of financial transactions are kept accurately
• Preparing balance sheets
• Producing management accounts and reports on a regular basis
• Supervising the Administrative Assistant to ensure processing of invoices (overseeing tasks carried out by Administrative Assistant)
You should be familiar with audits, invoices and budget preparations within a charitable organisation. Our ideal candidate demonstrates interest in managing accounting activities, including financial and management accounting and reporting required by the board and CEO. You should also have excellent organisational skills and be able to handle time-sensitive tasks.
Ultimately, you’ll be responsible for production of management accounts in partnership with our Treasurer providing him with the data and detail he requires to report to our board periodically and make recommendations based on our financial position of appropriate courses of action.
– Supervise and mentor the Administrative Assistant to ensure that all daily transactions are recorded accurately and ledgers are maintained
– Provide detailed information on spend to allow the preparation of balance sheets and forward financial planning
– Update internal systems with financial data
– Prepare monthly, quarterly and annual financial reports as required by the Treasurer and CEO
– Prepare reports for funders and where applicable ensuring compliance with procedures to ensure funding is granted
– Reconcile bank statements
– Participate in financial audits
– Track bank deposits and payments
– Assist with budget preparation and monitor income and expenditure against the budget.
– Complete monthly payroll for all staff
– Review and implement financial policies
– Part Qualified Accountant with experience within a similar environment – essential
– Proven work experience as a Finance Officer/Accountant or similar role – essential
– Solid knowledge of financial and accounting procedures – essential
– Experience using SAGE financial software – essential
– Experience using payroll software – essential
– Advanced MS Excel skills – essential
– Knowledge of financial regulations within a charity / social enterprise – desirable
– Sharp time management skills – essential
– Strong ethics, with an ability to manage confidential data – essential
– Experience of trust income reporting and EU funding reporting process – desirable

To apply:

Please email you CV and a personal statement to
CLOSING DATE IS: Friday 7th July
[Note Interviews will be held on 11th July for those shortlisted]


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