Tag: Social Investment Business

Environment EDP Stories: Forest of Hearts

EDP Grantee Forest of Hearts

About:

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.

Environment EDP Stories: Forest of Hearts

EDP Grantee Forest of Hearts

About:

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.

The Enterprise Development Programme returns: what’s different?

teens at a youth club playing table tennis

By Deborah Smart – Head of Grants at Social Investment Business

One year on from the pilot phase of the Enterprise Development Programme, Deborah Smart – Head of Grants at Social Investment Business – reflects on the growing #EnterpriseMovement, and shares what makes the next phase of the programme different.

Back in September 2018, the Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) launched with a year-long pilot to support charities and social enterprises working in the Youth and Homelessness sector. Following its success, Access have committed to expanding this programme, and will be extending the involvement of the Youth and Homelessness sectors until 2021, and also welcoming the Mental Health and Equality sectors onboard. Further sectors will be added each year and the programme will run until at least 2024.

So, what else has changed about the next phase of EDP? Here’s a summary of key things we learned, and how those learnings are going to inform the next phase of the programme:

  1.  Partnership

By working closely with our sector partners, we were able to ensure that sector needs were at the forefront of the support offered from EDP. We are working even more closely with our partners going forward. Partnership is crucial for us at SIB because it allows us to call upon the expert views of partners when a given fund or grant programme calls for it, ultimately with the aim of providing a better service for the organisations who need it

2. Flexibility

In moving forward with EDP, we wanted to make sure that the next phase of the programme was flexible enough to respond to the needs of the organisations we’re supporting. We have structured a programme in such a way that we can help the cohort find out what they don’t know, rather than test them on it. So, with that in mind, we’ve changed the programme so that what we’re initially assessing is whether organisations in the cohort have an enterprising mindset. What we mean by ‘enterprising mindset’ all boils down to forward planning: the EDP grant should free up time for organisations to think more strategically and be more entrepreneurial – to think beyond the EDP grant about the ways they can diversify their income streams.

You can read about how the Homeless Link EDP Year 1 cohort put their enterprising mindset to good use here. The most important thing in applying in this phase of the programme is the desire to be enterprising and develop trading.  Ideas can either be early stage or more developed.

Once the ‘enterprising mindset’ element of the assessment is complete by each sector partner, the programme is then structured for us to be able to provide different types of support depending on what stage your enterprising idea is at. If you’re looking for advice on applying for a fund and aren’t sure where to start, check out our tips.

3. Learning and responding

As the programme restarts, all of the EDP partners will continually be learning from and listening to the cohort and adapting to their needs. Here at SIB, one of our strategic priorities is putting our customer at the heart of everything we do – listening and responding to their needs is the best way of making that happen.  We will be gathering feedback from the organisations we work with throughout the programme to help us with this, and we will also look at how we can share this widely as well.

At Social Investment Business, our strategy is all about how we strengthen and build organisation’s resilience through providing the right finance and support to help them thrive. We are also committed to working in collaboration and partnership, and are therefore delighted to be expanding and extending our partnership with Access on EDP. We’re excited to be supporting and strengthening the enterprise activity of our first EDP cohort and beyond.

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