Celebrating the key to the Door – CEMVO’s 21st Birthday Celebrations

6 Mar 2024


By Tracey Muirhead, Director SSE in Scotland

Like any  Coming of Age 21st Birthday Party,  it’s surrounded by friends, family and those who’ve played a major part of your life shaping and forming your whole existence.

When I received an invite to CEMVO’s 21st Birthday Party, I couldn’t believe that 21 years had passed firstly and was excited to share their celebrations with them at Glasgow Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow last Friday,1 March 2024.

CEMVO Scotland is a national intermediary organisation and strategic partner of the Scottish Government Equality Unit.

Their aim is to build the capacity and sustainability of the ethnic minority (EM) voluntary sector and its communities. Since being established in 2003, they have developed a database network of over 600 ethnic minority voluntary sector organisations throughout Scotland to which they deliver a wide range of programmes that provide capacity building support to the sector. This includes social enterprise support, leadership development and race equality mainstreaming support to the public and third sectors.

As a national organisation, they continually engage with the EM voluntary sector and its communities, which enable them to gather intelligence about the needs and issues affecting the sector. This helps their organisation to deliver tailored support to the sector, and to work strategically with public, statutory, and government agencies to tackle a range of prevalent issues such as race equality, social inclusion, capacity building and civic participation.

Thinking about our own inclusive practices, at SSE, our aim is to drive inclusion into every area and activity of what we do: from access to programmes, to grant investment, to board, staff and partnerships. Diversity is a fact of life. Inclusion is a choice and a practice – for organisations and individuals.

We challenge ourselves to build diverse teams. We recognise that diverse teams improve the quality and richness of our work, and that diverse connections are essential for creating lasting change. We choose to be consciously inclusive and to champion the value of diversity.

Back to the festivities:

Over an amazing lunch we heard from Colin Lee, Chief Executive who wished for all Supporters and Partners to play a key role in continuing to access their support across all sectors; to work with CEMVO in meeting the challenges that they face in addressing systemic and structural racism within our society.

We also heard from Emma Roddick MSP Minister for Equalities Migration and Refugees as well as Seonaid Mann Equality & Fair Work Lead of South of Scotland Enterprise who both spoke about weaving race equality into the fabric of business endeavours .  Scotland’s Director of the National Lottery Community Fund, Neil Rich, was delighted to support CEMVO in increasing access to funding for EM organisaitons and community groups.

A highlight for me as Director of School for Social Entrepreneurs in Scotland is when I attend events and a Guest Speaker is one of our very own Fellows.

It was no different on this occasion as Adekemi Giwa, Director of the Play Centre Glasgow CIC  (SSE Start Up Trade Up Fellow) spoke about her own journey and how CEMVO and SSE supported her in it’s social enterprise’s development.

The Play Centre Glasgow C.I.C’s primary objective is to provide a one stop shop for the community of Drumchapel on issues around social inclusion, delivered through youth clubs, afterschool clubs and family hangouts. This provides benefit to families, children, young adults and key workers within the Glasgow area. A one stop shop comprising of a restaurant, family hangout, a soft play centre, project rooms, mentoring/counselling class.

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve supported an individual at Start Up Stage, going onto developing their trading activity, setting a path for growth and hearing how both CEMVO and ourselves have contributed to their experience over the years.

I’d like to say a heartfelt thanks to CEMVO for inviting me to the Party; they’ve been a constant support to SSE in Scotland over the  years, signposting many of their clients to our programmes.

Like any 21st Birthday Party, it’s usual to get a key to the door which opens many opportunities for the future. Our door at SSE is always open and look forward to working with CEMVO’s Yasmin Ali, the Social Enterprise Lead in the years to come to ensure a vibrant and sustainable social enterprise sector.


Contact Tracey: [email protected]