Boyndie Visitor Centre
Contact details:Project Manager: Duncan Leece Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch our short video to find out more about the Boyndie Visitor Centre, which benefitted from LEADER funding in the 2007-13 programme.
What are the aims of your project?
Boyndie Trust provides skills development training and support to more than 50 unemployed adults, most of whom have additional special needs. The Trust runs on social enterprise principals, and its community-run visitor centre augments the Banffshire Coast’s tourism attraction, in addition to providing both paid employment and volunteering opportunities.
How did your project achieve these aims?
Since inception in 1999, the charity has grown considerably, with the single largest jump being asset transfer of a semi-derelict former local authority school back in 2003, which was converted into the current purpose-build training and visitor facility. It has been steadily upgraded and expanded every year since, and the previous LEADER programme was a key tool for this.
Every aspect of daily running the busy visitor centre, which includes retail, catering, crafts, gifts and horticulture, is broken down into development opportunities for those in training placements, with a team of specialist job coaches and training leaders assisting and facilitating.
The Trust is community-run, using a mix of paid staff, volunteers, and those on training placement: everyone works together. There is widespread support from local communities, members of which form the visitor centres loyal customers all year round. Commercial contracts are in place with both Aberdeenshire and Moray councils, to deliver specialist training services on an individual client by client basis. Boyndie Trust works in daily cooperation with its sister charity, The Banffshire Partnership, which rents office accommodation at the visitor centre; and many initiatives are delivered with a degree of partnership working.
How was the project funded?
Grant funding (such as from LEADER) has been used for capital work, expansions and acquisitions, but on-going revenue is all derived in a roughly even split between payment for training services, and money through the tills at the visitor centre’s restaurant, shops and garden centre.
Where did you go for help and advice?
Mostly self-taught in the early days, with both Boyndie Trust and Banffshire Partnership sharing knowledge and advice. Aberdeenshire Council’s Economic Development team were supportive and helpful too. More recently, links with DTAS have proved useful.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Still being a strong, relevant, growing and popular organisation after more than fifteen years in business, relying on self-generated inconme - sustainability!
And the biggest challenge?
Being familiar with the ever-changing whims, fashions and themes, whether national or local, and having the strength of character not to follow them if you know they are not right either for your charity’s beneficiaries, your community or the organisation itself.
What's next for your project?
Clear and realistic business plan, clear consistent management, and continual monitoring to ensure what you are doing is right and of benefit to the community. Look for partnership opportunities too, and ensure assets are used to their maximum.