ARCHIVE: Encouraging social enterprises and environmental entrepreneurship
On this page:
- Bulky Matters – WRAP and REconomy CIC support means tendering success
- Proper Job - helps people with greener living in Dartmoor National Park
- Magpie Recycling - committed to helping people adapt to climate change in Brighton
- Tackley ‘All in One’ Centre - a community owned enterprise providing essential services in rural Oxfordshire
- Stroud Community Agriculture - a community committed to local food
- Rockingham Forest - conservation of our environmental heritage and support for the rural economy
- Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust provide affordable rural housing
Furniture Matters is one of the first organisations to receive support through the WRAP-REconomy Third Sector Capacity Building Programme. Through this support, Furniture Matters, based in Lancashire, will employ an Interim Manager to enable the Projects Delivery Manager to concentrate on expanding their municipal bulky waste service, “Bulky Matters”, to neighbouring authorities.
Furniture Matters’ “Bulky Matters” project has previously been identified as being innovative by both Defra and the Audit Commission. The organisation has developed a modular approach to service delivery and this is what makes it replicable in different Local Authorities with differing needs. This flexibility allows Local Authorities to tailor the Bulky Matters service to suit their priorities.
The outcome of the REconomy CIC (Community Interest Company) support work will be that Furniture Matters will secure at least three further contracts with local authorities helping ensure the growth and long term sustainability of the organisation, while also increasing local reuse, diverting waste and preventing carbon emissions.
REconomy CIC’s support for the work of Furniture Matters is enabling the development of a high profile and high impact service that can be replicated throughout the UK. This work offers a blueprint for other enterprising re-users across the UK to develop and demonstrates to local authorities the benefits of working with third sector partners to dramatically reduce the bulky waste that they send to landfill.
Proper Job is a re-use, recycling, composting and food co-operative based in Chagford, a small town in the Dartmoor National Park. It provides four inter-connected activities: recycling, organic food production, training and a shop/cafe. It has an elected Management Committee, 7 part-time workers and 7 volunteers with a turnover of approximately £150K. It has an established UK reputation for knowledge and expertise about recycling issues. It also hosts Devon Community Composting Network and Devon Community Recycling Network, with plans to host the Devon Low Carbon Network.
Composting of green waste and other recyclables, organic vegetable growing and training are run through The Resource Centre, at a permanent site on the outskirts of Chagford open to the public six days a week. The site is divided up into types of recyclables and office space. One area is devoted to green waste ie composting and sales of compost. The remainder is devoted to other recyclables eg metals, wood, ceramic (bricks rubble etc), cardboard, plastic bubble wrap and polythene, batteries, mobile phones, cartridges etc and re-use items such as books, clothes, textiles, building materials, salvage, timber, bric a brac, bicycles and furniture. It has a turnover of approximately £21K.
The fourth activity is The Courtyard, a café and shop in the town centre, seating about 30 customers with a £130K turnover, which was set up in 1996 to provide Chagford with local, organic or fair traded goods. A new shop has recently been openedat the reuse, recycle, compost site stocking environmentally friendly products including bio-degradable nappies, detergents, cosmetics and sanitary wear amongst a whole lot of other things.
Magpie Recycling co-operative began life in 1990 when a group of three volunteers collected drink cans, glass and office paper from local businesses in Brighton. It now employs over 20 people and has significantly expanded its range of services. Whilst still operating domestic and businesses recycling – using electric powered milk floats alongside gas and biofuel combustion engines – it has developed other environmentally-conscious services including a furniture collection and resale project – Shabitat, and gardening services. Magpie’s consultancy service runs public awareness drives, kerbside advice, recycling events and projects building partnerships to better waste re-use. The co-operative structure and lack of shareholders means that every employee has maximum opportunity to influence the performance and direction of the business. All employees have, after two years service, the option to become a member of the co-operative. The general council – comprising all members – ultimately governs the running of the business.
Magpie is committed to helping people adapt to climate change. In addition to its core recycling business it is also working with the University of Brighton to trial a new food waste system designed to improve recovery of food waste in the city. Magpie Recycling is ideally placed because they are respected locally as a long-standing co-operative and a forward looking, environmentally savvy, community-based business.
Whilst Magpie Recycling has obvious green credentials, it also has a strong social commitment. The furniture project, which collects donated furniture free of charge, then sells it on at cost to those on a low income. Many of these customers come to Magpie through social services, with whom the company also works with on a low cost removals and storage facility – now available to all residents of Brighton and Hove.
Tackley ‘All in One’ Centre - a community owned enterprise providing essential services in rural Oxfordshire
The Tackley ‘All in One’ Centre is a community-owned enterprise providing essential services to this rural community and has really helped put the heart back into village life. In recent years the village of Tackley, in rural Oxfordshire lost its post office, two shops and a pub. As a consequence older people (numbering around 200) and younger residents without their own transport had great difficulty accessing essential services.
As a response, the “All-in-One” project was developed by the community to redevelop the ageing village hall into a multi-functional centre for the community, comprising a community shop and post office, coffee shop, sports changing facilities, meeting rooms and an IT suite. The centre has been established as a community enterprise with all profits feeding back into the community.
The centre is a successful venture and is now relied upon by the villagers. There is a healthy mix of ages amongst staff and customers. School children visit the ‘All in One’ Centre after school while young parents collapse in the coffee shop, teenagers can get work experience while older people are the cut and thrust of the supermarket. A village barber has also taken up residence in the same building all helping to reduce the need to travel far for services.
The feeling of community is prevalent in not only services provided and the strong number of volunteers, but also in the support given by the community. The shop is run by a paid manager and there is a team of over 50 volunteers. The stock on the shelves is further testament to local resources. During the summer all the fruit and vegetables are grown locally. The icecream is made in the neighbouring village, the meat sections features local organic products, and the fish comes from the Coln Valley Smokery.
Read more about the Tackley ‘All in one’ Centre and other community-run shops on the community-owned shop directory at www.plunkett.co.uk
Stroud Community Agriculture is a co-operative that runs two 23 acre farms in Gloucestershire, growing vegetables and rearing beef and pork meat for their members. It’s a CSA: Community Supported Agriculture. Members pay an annual membership fee and a further payment in order to receive produce. Members collect vegetables each week and can also buy a share of the meat, if they want to.
Members support the farmers to produce their food. The farmers receive a reasonable wage and everyone shares high quality, locally-grown organic vegetables and meat. There are also many volunteers who contribute in various ways. The farm is inclusive and encourages supporting members to join, who can enjoy the farms and children are involved in growing vegetables too.
Stroud Community Agriculture demonstrates how the whole community can be involved in enjoying the environment and producing their own nutritious and healthy food.
Rockingham Forest Trust is an environmental and rural development charity which works to improve the environment of the ancient Rockingham Forest, some 200 square miles of Northamptonshire that includes four market towns and 67 villages. The trust’s mission has been to keep the forest beautiful, distinctive and thriving. In practice, this involves working with local people to conserve the Forest’s landscape and traditions, whilst supporting the rural economy in adapting to the challenges of modern life.
The jewel in the crown for the trust is Stanwick Lakes, a 650 acre reserve in the Nene Valley that offers an extensive network of accessible footpaths and cycle paths, a bird hide, an adventure playground, access to fishing lakes, and facilities for the trust’s on-site rangers and volunteers. The trust is currently building the carbon-neutral Stanwick Lakes Centre (scheduled to open in Easter 2009) which will provide a focus for a wide range of community education and recreational involvement related to the countryside, conservation, and healthy lifestyles, all linked to activities and facilities available on the rest of the site. It will also include a car park, café, a retail unit with an emphasis on ‘environmentally friendly’ and fair-trade products, and an indoor educational pay-to-play area for young children – all managed through a social enterprise trading subsidiary. The trust is also seeking planning permission for a small on-site wind turbine.
Providing low-cost social housing was, and remains, the first priority of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust. After undertaking a housing needs survey, in 1998 it built five new houses – three 2-beds and two 3-beds. The houses were built to a high energy efficiency standard to keep running costs low. Tenant priority was given to local young people and today all but one of the tenants work on the island. In addition, the floor above the trust’s Heritage Centre has been converted into two flats which provide additional affordable rented accommodation for local families while work is also underway to build a further four affordable housing units (part funded by the Housing Corporation through its pilot Community Land Trust programme). In 1996, the school on the island was in ‘mothballs’ with only one child attending. Today, the school has eleven children, seven of whom live in trust properties. This is a simple but strong indicator of the impact of investing in affordable housing.
The trust also owns and manages the Gospels Garden, a formal retreat with a magnificent two metre high carved wooden cross depicting the life of St Cuthbert, and the land and water within the Inner Harbour including the pier and fishing huts. Working with the local fisherman, the trust has produced a Harbour Management Plan and is looking at income generation opportunities through mooring hire, franchises (e.g. mobile fast food outlets) and farming mussel beds as well as generally improving the built environment with new seating, lighting, disabled access and toilet facilities. The latest project is the conversion of the former lifeboat house into a Lifeboat Heritage Museum and the conversion of the former Coastguard Lookout into a visitor centre for wildlife.
Page last modified: 3 November 2008
Page published: 3 November 2008