Thursday, 10 September 2021 08:44

Profile - Graham Findlay of North East Sensory Services (NESS)

Graham Findlay

Your Name –  Graham Findlay

Company Name –  North East Sensory Services (NESS)

When did you start (with) the company? - May 2005

What part of the business do you like best? 

The direct frontline services that support over 4,500 people who have a severe sensory loss.  The services NESS provides, including social work, practical and emotional support, can change lives and allow people to live as independently as they can.

If you had to start again from scratch what would you do differently? 

NESS is one of the oldest charities in the North-east, having started as Grampian Society for the Blind in Aberdeen since 1879.  Over time, the charity has evolved to meet the needs of the service users – expanding geographically into Moray and Dundee and combining support for people with hearing loss as well as sight loss. This model works well and services users would have benefited from these opportunities from day one.

What is unique about what the company does? 

NESS is the first organisation to develop full joint sensory services in Scotland for people who are deaf, hearing impaired, blind, visually impaired or deafblind.  We have developed a ‘one stop shop’ approach so that anyone who uses our services are supported by staff who are experts in both sight and hearing issues.  Many of our elderly service users have a deterioration in both sight and hearing so being supported by the one organisation certainly helps 

Has there been a key moment or turning point. 

Winning the Moray Council Joint Sensory Contract in 2009 was the springboard to the growth of our services which have developed almost fourfold over the last six years

How do you intend to grow the company? 

We grow in two different ways.  Firstly, we proactively look at our charity funded part of the business, which makes up almost half of our income.  If we identify a service gap or service user group need, we can fundraise and approach charitable trusts to seek funding and if successful, add a part to our business.    The rest of our income comes from providing social work services on behalf of local government, so we continue to look at competitive tendering in other parts of the country.

Do you have any non-executive directors, mentors or key advisors? Who are they?  

NESS has a board of directors who come to us from a wide range of backgrounds, specially identified to meet our skills needs.  All are volunteers and get no payments for their role.  We have people from health, social care, local authority, service users and from the private sector, so a good mix of skills and experience.

What will the next 12 months hold? 

We have a few contracts to retender for and possibly one or two others that might interest us.  NESS could look quite different in 12 months’ time!

If you were given £100,000 to invest in the company, how would you use it?  

Probably to put towards the development of a resource centre in one of the areas we cover.

What's the best part of running a business? 

We are in the non-profit business, so it’s not about money - although you still need to develop your income streams to make the business viable.  However, seeing the impact the work of our staff and volunteers have on the lives of people living with what could be very disabling conditions is definitely the best part of what we do and gives me immense satisfaction.

What do you do to relax? 

Spend time with the family, follow the Dons, gym and running (with my sighted guide), reading and travel.

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