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The Wise Group

Organisation Summary

Business Sector:Employment Services

Business Activities:Employability, skills and training, criminal justice, sustainability services, regeneration

Business Location:Scotland, North East England

Chief Executive:Laurie Russell

Turnover:£15m (2014)


Legal structure:Company Limited by Guarantee with charitable status

The Wise Group

The Wise Group was set up in 1983 to provide innovative ways of supporting long term unemployed people to find work by combining training with work experience in Glasgow. The initial concept was to work on insulating social housing by carrying out the work with trainees learning their skills from experienced tradesmen on the job.

The Wise Group still uses this approach and delivers government contracts to support unemployed people into work. Since 1983, it has helped around 50,000 people find employment. Customers claim that paid work has also led to increased levels of self-confidence and motivation, and improved health and wellbeing – all of which enhance performance in the workplace.

The Wise Group has improved thousands of houses and helped householders make energy efficiencies and save money spent on fuel bills. It has delivered significant regeneration projects in communities across Scotland with housing associations and local councils and given local residents a sense of ownership and pride.

Its work also involves supporting short term prisoners on release to transform their lives, reduce re-offending and move into employment.

The Wise Group works across Scotland and in the north east of England.

E3M Member

The Wise Group

Name:Laurie Russell

Title :CEO

Laurie joined the Wise Group as Chief Executive in 2006. He has 30 years’ experience in economic and social regeneration. He has built on its success, developing the business internally and externally, and cemented the Wise Group’s reputation as one of the UK’s leading social enterprises.

Prior to joining the Wise Group, Laurie managed the programme of European Structural Funds in Western Scotland for 17 years and knew of the Wise Group as a funder. He really liked what it stood for and joined the Wise Group because, “ lived its values and made a positive difference to people’s lives”.

Laurie was the Chair of Social Enterprise Scotland for six years until 2013 and is a member of the National Economic Forum in Scotland and the Scottish Employability Forum.