South Wales social enterprise "bags" £90,000 Co-op Foundation funding

01 May 2019

A Treherbert-based social enterprise dedicated to managing local woodland sustainably while creating employment, volunteering and training opportunitieshas received a £90,000 funding boost from The Co-op Foundation.

Welcome to Our Woods Ltd is the first group to “bag” a share of a new £1 million fund launched by the Co-op’s charity.

The funds have been generated through the 5p single-use carrier bag charge in Welsh Co-op food stores.

Pic 1 - Welcome to our Woods

The fund has been set up to enable groups in Wales with a community and environmental focus to safeguard spaces and become more sustainable.

The projects being explored by Welcome to Our Woods – which received a £50,000 interest-free loan and £40,000 grant – are designed to better manage the area’s natural resources while creating employment, volunteering and training opportunities for local people.

Welcome to our Woods in partnership with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) identified up to 30,000 hectares of broadleaved woodland and conifer plantations in the Rhondda Valley that could be managed more efficiently.

Funding will support the community group's work and generate revenue, including: expanding its woodland sustainability work and renewable biomass fuels; transform a former library in Bute Street, Treherbert, into a centre for wood-working and, also explore the creation of a ‘green gym’ in the community woodland space.

Ian Thomas of Welcome to Our Woods, said: “The natural landscape presents a huge opportunity and this funding boost from The Co-op Foundation will be instrumental in unlocking the resources and possibilities - it is a unique opportunity to explore projects which can improve the management of our environment while creating value for the local community. The schemes we are looking at also confront social issues such as skill shortages and fuel poverty, while presenting opportunities to bring families and communities together in this beautiful setting. We are delighted and excited at the news that The Co-op Foundation is supporting this project for the benefit of the environment and wider community.

“The funding puts us in a much stronger position to develop these resources, providing the unique opportunity to regenerate the area, create community income streams, local jobs and education opportunities. While making sustainable improvements to the local environment now and into the future through renewables, thanks to the support of the Co-op.”

Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation, said: “We are delighted to support Welcome to Our Woods and, are keen to see how its innovative projects come to life and make a difference locally. Spaces like parks and woodlands need regular funds so they can meet the needs of the people who use them, love them and rely on them. This builds stronger communities for today, and a better environment for the future. We look forward to hearing from even more organisations with enterprising ideas that will boost their trading activities, support local people and help create a better natural environment for us all.”

Groups can “bag” grants of up to £10,000 to explore enterprising ideas that could contribute to a more sustainable future for their community space. Funding could support feasibility costs, technical or legal fees or projects which test and explore new ideas. Applications close at noon on Friday, 21 June.

In addition, interest-free loans of up to £50,000 are available to organisations to grow more established business ideas. Loans should be repaid within five years and with no need to make repayments in the first year. Some organisations could be eligible for a further grant dependent upon circumstances.

Eligible organisations must engage local people and support the environment. For more information, and details of how to apply, visit coopfoundation.org.uk

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Further information:

Andrew Torr

Co-op Press Office

M: 07702505551

E: andrew.torr@coop.co.uk

And,

Andy Mortimer, Communications Manager - The Co-op Foundation

E: andy.mortimer@coop.co.uk

Tel: 0161 692 7756 / 07702 603516.