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Successor for Russell

Newsquest’s Duffy joins Wise Group as CEO

Sean Duffy

Sean Duffy: takes over a positive time for Wise Group


Social enterprise, the Wise Group, today announces the appointment of Newsquest commercial director Sean Duffy as chief executive.

He will take over in the new year from Laurie Russell who is retiring after 11 years in the post.

The Wise Group offers individuals a chance to gain new skills and employment, reducing re-offending, regenerating communities and tackling fuel poverty.  

Mr Duffy has worked for a number of high profile organisations such as FirstGroup, National Express and STV Group.

Stuart Patrick, chairman of the Wise Group board of trustees, said: “The Wise Group’s mission is to support and deliver for the most disadvantaged people positively transforming their lives.

Laurie has achieved much during 11 years with us. He has been an inspirational leader, not only for the Wise Group, but for the social enterprise movement in Scotland.

“We had several very strong candidates for this post, but Sean stood out due to his excellent skills, knowledge and commitment to the values and culture of the Wise Group. 

“He has a strong private sector track record and has been a leading player in securing and delivering high profile, complex public sector contracts, which is an important route through which the Wise Group delivers our mission and impact.

“In addition an important element of his background and skills is his non-executive board experience in third sector organisations.

“There are both opportunities and challenges for social enterprises in over the next few years.   So it is crucially important that we continue to grow and nurture our partnerships with private companies, public agencies and other social enterprises.

“We have the right person in place to take this vision forward and continue to play a major role in achieving positive change for communities in Scotland and North East England.”

Mr Russell said: “It has been a privilege to work with a great group of staff, partners and trustees at the Wise Group and together we have made a huge impact on many thousands of people’s lives.

“I am confident, having met Sean, that he will be a great addition to the Wise Group team. Although I’m retiring, I will continue to be available in an advisory capacity for as long as I’m needed.”

Mr Duffy joins at a positive time for the Wise Group as it recently won one of the new Scottish Government Fair Start Scotland employability contracts for the West region.  The new contract will start in April 2018 and is worth up to £8.6m.

New SIS fund launched

Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has launched a funding challenge to help third sector organisations who are looking to grow or replicate their business in 2018.

The Growth and Replication Challenge is a competitive opportunity open to charities and social enterprises, across Scotland, which have developed strategies for growth and replication.

This could include a community sports club or a social enterprise food and drink business. The challenge will provide bespoke business support from SIS, alongside tailored finance, to turn their plans into reality.  

Successful applicants will receive professional business support worth up to £10,000. The support programme will help to address issues including social impact, governance, products and services, people and skills, business planning, sales and marketing as well as financial controls.  

The Growth and Replication Challenge also offers tailored finance packages and successful applicants could receive between £100,000 and £1m of investment. Finance can be obtained with up to three years patient arrangements to allow the new development to get up and running and up to 13 years fixed term to provide confidence on future costs. 

Alastair Davis, CEO of Social Investment Scotland, said: “We know there are hundreds of talented organisations across the country with big ideas and the right people to deliver them, but they just need advice and finance to bring these plans to fruition. That’s where the Growth and Replication Challenge can help.”

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