A SCOTTISH social care service is celebrating helping a record 400 young people a year.

Calman Trust was set up in 1998 by Isobel Grigor to give young people more opportunities to succeed when leaving school or the family home, no matter what their circumstances.

It has gone from helping just four young people in the first year to around 400 in 2017.

From housing support, or accredited training, to cooking services employment and skills training through Calman’s owned restaurant and catering business, Artysans, Calman has developed a wide range of accessible services for young people across the Highlands.

Chief executive Grigor, said: “We knew there were young people in the area who, for whatever reasons, could no longer live at home.

“With homeless regulations only coming into place in 2003, we saw a gap in the help readily available and decided we need to do something to change this. Initially we were working to help those who were already in difficulty but as the years have gone by, and our services are becoming more recognisable, we’re now able to engage with those individuals before their situation spirals negatively. We set up Cafe Artysans in 2010 as a means for our young people to develop skills and get ready for life through real experience.

“However, we wanted this to be of a commercial quality that our customers would value and want to come back and support, time and time again.”

Living in a digital age, where mobiles are a core element of any young person’s life, Grigor recognised the need for a new communication tool that would allow them to engage with their consumers on a different level.

She added: “When we decided that a web-based platform was the next natural step in our business journey we outreached to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Innovation Team for their support.

“They advised us to apply for one of their innovation grants which we did so successfully.

“Using the money from HIE we were able to take the ideas from our heads and develop a prototype.

“This digital tool allows us to take our core content on support and reach many more individuals across the Highlands than we’ve ever been able to before.

“The webpage will give practical advice on ways of looking after yourself to avoid getting into difficult situations.

“Frequent questions such as ‘what do I do if I can’t afford to pay my rent?’ will be answered in this app, and ultimately it will allow people to learn how to fend for themselves.”

Across the past few years, Calman has been account managed by HIE. Speaking of their ongoing relationship, Grigor said: “Working with the HIE team has helped develop our own understanding of what innovation means and how we can best utilise this. At Calman, innovation sits at the centre of everything we do.

“It’s all about finding new ways to meet an identified need and ensuring this has been tried and tested before rolling out.

“I think if there is one piece of advice I could give to another business considering innovating it would be to not shy away from it. Have the courage to test your ideas and don’t be afraid of finding out that it won’t work.”

Calman Trust describes itself as “a support line for many young people who are looking to live independently” and has recently been awarded a Social Enterprise Scotland Award.