Tag: Environment

Youth EDP Stories: Young Somerset

EDP Grantee Young Somerset

Talented young people in Somerset given opportunity to shine with an enterprising organisation that’s going from strength to strength.

When thinking of Taunton; history, its castle and county cricket might spring to mind, but tucked away in the independent quarter of this town is a special place, founded by the largest youth organisation in the county, Young Somerset (YS).

On a dry, early spring day, Social Investment Business, and one of our sector partners on the Enterprise Development Programme (EDP), The Centre for Youth Impact, were invited to spend the day with YS at Bold & Brave (B&B), their recently establish community shop and hub, with the aim of understanding how EDP has made a difference to their business and the lives of those they support.

EDP is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. It aims to support organisations build financial resilience and impact, by providing a mixture of grant and learning support, to help ideas off the ground or increase trading income for more established projects.

Formed 25 years ago, YS successfully applied for a place on EDP, to support them increase their trading income, future-proof their operations and support more young people.

About Bold & Brave and Young Somerset

B&B’s shop and meeting space aims to bring young people and the community together. It’s described as a community hub that gives young people the opportunity to research, design, ethnically produce, showcase, and sell their own quality products.

Nik Harwood is CEO of YS and supports operations at B&B. YS’s mission puts young people first with everything they do, and it’s achieved in various ways including targeted youth work and providing emotional wellbeing and mental health support.  

How would YS describe the support they’ve received through EDP?

 “I cannot speak highly enough of the programme. It was an amazing opportunity to have the ability to engage with other CEOs” says Nik. “Knowledge, experience, concerns, fears, questions were all there. What (EDP) did quickly was create an astonishing safe space, that became very creative and innovative. We had (a cohort) of commonalty and ideas”.

It gave Nik an opportunity to share his own experience with others “(It was great) to offer my thinking into someone’s project in Hull and for someone in Kent (to tell me) in Somerset you can do this. It created a network that was interactive right the way through”.

Why should someone apply to EDP?

“Go for it and don’t hesitate. I cannot recommend (EDP) highly enough. Working together and collaboratively in a constructively, critical, dynamic way was amazing. The facilitation and support materials were superb, along with the guest speakers, other social entrepreneurs and people who know enterprise inside out and have been doing it for years. We had someone (on our cohort) from a marketing background and what he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. Having (that person) in a room for 4 hours, wow mind blowing stuff, so the quality is the highest. If you are on the cusp of, should I/shouldn’t I apply, then just do it!”.

Back at B&B, we spoke to several young people about how B&B has made a difference. Many people B&B support lack confidence, experience mental health issues and told us how they found the organisation inspiring and a safe space. Young people sell a variety of products, including jewellery, greeting cards and artwork in the shop and anything sold, the maker receives commission as well as recognition. B&B also provides other opportunities to young people. We met Chloe who is going to teach art tuition classes with like-minded young people. She has sold over 300 pieces of artwork across 15 countries and hopes to be able to inspire other budding young artists.

We also met 24-year-old Callum, who is now B&B’s Assistant Shop Manager and in the last 8 months has transformed his life.

“Before I came to B&B I was out of work for 5 years, suffered from anxiety and depression, cared for my mother and rarely came out of the house”. Thanks to the Kickstart Scheme, Callum was given an opportunity to help in an IT/retail role there. “I really enjoyed helping to set up the shop and dealing with suppliers” and he is adamant B&B has made a difference to him “I’ve come along way and the shop has been an essential part of my development as a person and my skills. All the people (here) are great, and everyone supports each other”. Callum has gained a level 3 diploma in retail skills and aims to help and empower other young people. “I am confident, I can now do things, I just needed to be told I could do it”.

How to Apply

For full details on how to apply and application windows see the Youth page.

Environment EDP Stories: Forest of Hearts

EDP Grantee Forest of Hearts


Forest of Hearts is a registered charity which creates ‘gardens for good’ to improve wellbeing, boost biodiversity and enhance employability. They are based in Stratford- Upon-Avon with different sites across Warwickshire. We visited Carole Longden, the CEO of Forest of Hearts to talk about the journey of the charity through the Enterprise Development Programme.

Established 7 years ago, Forest of Hearts first started with a 5-acre field that they acquired to preserve the field as a natural space and support biodiversity in the area. Their mission to preserve natural spaces led into their work with gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon Hospital and subsequently another two NHS hospitals: Leamington-spa and Warwick. To carry out these activities they have a team of highly committed volunteers who the charity endeavours to upskill for future employment.  Forest of Hearts currently operate a range of projects alongside land and garden management.

This includes a contract with Warwickshire council to create the Warwickshire Living Walls project which ultimately has the goal to have 100 linear of living walls. Carole recognised that the main obstacle with living walls was not the space to install them but rather the high level of maintenance they require. As a result, Forest of Hearts has been experimenting with different materials, plants, and irrigation systems to assess the best living wall installation system with the lowest maintenance.

Another exciting project on the horizon for Forest of Hearts is the Dell Forest Garden with Royal Shakespeare Company.  The project will culminate in a full garden installation garden alongside live art installations from local artists such as Faye Claridge and live music for Shakespeare’s birthday.

Why did joining the EDP appeal to them?

Forest of Hearts were keen to access the training and peer-to peer experience that would allow them to focus their organisational structure. The programme has allowed them to modulate aspects of their charity such as tree planting into packages that are able to generate income for their work. The grant support also incentivised them to apply, allowing them to increase staff who have developed aspects that they were under resourced to focus on before such as social media. It has also given Carole space to be able to focus on other areas of the business and delegate tasks to other members of the team.

Peer-to-peer cohort style of the programme

Carole saw the value for Forest of Hearts as an organisation to be part of a peer group to share their knowledge with others working in environment focused charities and social enterprises. In particular sharing insight into building partnerships with local councils and NHS organisations to create a mutually beneficial arrangement which would also include financial support. Thinking long-term, they would like to explore the possibility of forming a coalition with some of their cohort peers with the aim of generating support behind a research study.

What development insight have they gained from the programme so far?

The EDP programme has led to Forest of Hearts increasing their enterprise capacity, specifically, the development of their corporate package offerings. The charity now offers a fully bespoke service to corporate clients offering a range of activities from a full work away day programme to a tree planting one- off activity. They have already seen great success with companies interested in tree planting, with companies offering to match fund the costs involved. Carole has endeavored to ensure that there is feasibility for Forest of Hearts to provide activities both outdoor and indoor.

Carole has also seen potential to expand this into corporate social responsibility report analysis, provided consulting advice on how to get words from these pages into a commitment.

How to Apply

The EDP Environment is open for round one applications on Tuesday 19th April 2022 at 10am.

For full details on how to apply and application windows see the Environment page.