Remember the TV series “Challenge Anneka” which had Anneka Rice creating community facilities (or refurbishing existing ones) using goods and labour donated by local people and businesses?

Well, that’s the model Annette Tonner decided to follow to get her new employability training centre in Falkirk up and running.

Got the keys!

Annette, 47, who lives in the area and has 20 years experience in the employability sector – helping people get back to work and into work – started thinking about setting up a community training company for the Forth Valley area two years ago.

She explains: “The private companies I’ve worked for over the years make a good profit from providing employability training – usually for school leavers and people on benefits – mostly paid for through government-funded schemes.

“I’m passionate about the work I do and the community I live in and I knew I could provide a better quality of training, and better outcomes, through a Community Interest Company – a CIC – which means that any profits we make will be used for the benefit of the community.



I’m passionate about the work I do and the community I live in. Click To Tweet

And so Forth Valley Community Focus CIC was born whose stated aims are to “reduce poverty and unemployment within the local community . . . and to break down barriers to work with bespoke services in employment, recruitment, training and qualifications.”

Like Ms. Rice, Annette possesses infectious enthusiasm, a straight-forward approach and not a little charm when it’s required (not to mention a great sense of humour), so when it came to finding and fitting out premises for the new training centre, she launched a “Challenge Annette” initiative.

The “Challenge Annette” call to action.

Finding suitable premises was, of course, the biggest challenge and after one setback, a “supportive, sympathetic” landlord gave them a five-year-lease, and a 50 per cent discount, on a property at 71 Manor Street in the centre of Falkirk.

Taking shape!

Creating training rooms and offices within the premises saw Annette go into full “Challenge” mode and resulted in local businesses and volunteers donating £5000 (five thousand) worth of materials and labour.

“People have been amazing” she says. “I explained that I was setting up the company but it would belong to them.

“Yes – I’m the CEO and will get a salary” Annette agrees “but I’ve also been cleaning the toilets!

“It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point but I’ve had great support and encouragement from Iain Scott whose Can Do Places events have been an essential source of information, inspiration and introductions.”

(And she revealed that listening to “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten’s inspirational anthem – in the shower every morning has also helped!)

Annette with Michael Matheson MSP and guests on launch day

Forth Valley Community Focus CIC opened their doors on Saturday 15 April 2017.

Congratulations to Annette and all the Team.

The image (right) is courtesy of the Falkirk Herald – for the full article go to


The company is now called Community Focus Scotland CIC. For more information visit their website –

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