Glasgow at the forefront of social innovation

05 July 2016

Ruth Maltman, Willy Roe and Professor Pamela Gillies. Photo: George Mahoney

Ruth Maltman, Willy Roe and Professor Pamela Gillies. Photo: George Mahoney

Glasgow remains ‘at the forefront of extraordinary social innovation’, according to Willy Roe CBE. The Chairman of the Grameen Scotland Foundation addressed a packed audience at the Trades House Lecture at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) last night (Monday 4).

Professor Pamela Gillies, Glasgow Caledonian University Principal and Vice-Chancellor CBE FRSE, welcomed guests and commended the Trades House of Glasgow for its continued investment in young people.

Ruth Maltman, Deacon Convener of the Trades House of Glasgow introduced Mr Roe, who chairs Grameen in the UK, which began trading in 2014, offering small loans to new start-ups and existing small businesses not served by financial services.

Mr Roe outlined how social innovations such as credit unions and social enterprises have transformed the city. He also pointed to the success stories of Denmark in educating people from a care background and Finland for addressing alcohol abuse as two examples to learn from in the future.

“Glasgow was, and still is, at the forefront of extraordinary social innovation,” said Mr Roe, who is also Chair of the British Council Scotland Advisory Committee. “When times were tough, the people of Glasgow demonstrated imagination, ambition, courage and leadership on a massive scale, collectively bringing about transformational change for the City.

“This city, and Scotland as a whole, faces a number of real opportunities and incredible challenges too – educational attainment, inequality, poverty, health and wellbeing. Glasgow has some shocking statistics which won’t go away, but I believe with the extraordinary success of the last 40 years, we can go much further and faster in the next 50 years.

“We can’t do it alone, without learning from other countries and without establishing strong partnerships with academic institutions such as Glasgow Caledonian University. I can’t think of a more powerful symbol of what a University is about than putting the Common Good at the cornerstone of its work.”

The prestigious annual Trades House Lecture is held in rotation by GCU, the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, run in conjunction with The Trades House of Glasgow.