A PAIR of arts-themed businesses have enjoyed a Christmas boost thanks to a council fund aimed at supporting businesses who address key social or environmental needs.

Charlie Sherry from Bowling - who launched photography-based social enterprise Inclusive Images - and Clydebank G81 Trust have both been supported as part of the Social Enterprise Challenge Fund, which aims to improve the local economy and create sustainable jobs.

As part of the process, applicants were asked to pitch for funding to a Dragon’s Den style panel, having to demonstrate how their services would be able to support financially challenged people and families across West Dunbartonshire.

Inclusive Images helps community groups and individuals tell their stories through the provision of cameras and the teaching of basic photography skills, helping to transform these images into campaigns and promotional materials.

The £6,000 grant will be used to increase the hours of a member of staff who had been working with the enterprise on a part-time basis, as well as with a number of essential set-up costs, including paying rent at an office in Old Kilpatrick and a laptop to help with the company’s operations.

Speaking to the Post, Mr Sherry said that the new funding was “fantastic”.

He added: “We help with giving the communities around us a voice through a therapeutic activity and can also help people out of problems with social isolation.”

Clydebank G81 Trust consists of five local trustees who will use the £5,000 grant offered by the fund to set up a music production and creative media centre, aiming to promote and showcase the talents of local people with the aim of improving employment opportunities as a result.

They were joined by Dumbarton-based music hub SKapade Studios, which was also awarded £5,000 to expand its work in providing DJ and music production skills to people aged under 30 who are not currently in education, employment or training.

Councillor Iain McLaren, convener of infrastructure, regeneration and economic development, said: “I’m delighted to see the creative thinking and entrepreneurship that these three businesses have shown, particularly as their ideas all involve helping other people learn vital new skills that could improve their employment opportunities.

“The Social Enterprise Challenge Fund has unearthed some great business ideas over the years and 2017 looks like being no different on that front. Congratulations to the three winners. I look forward to seeing their ideas progress.”