Training opportunities at social enterprise blossom thanks to coalfields

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The Big Red Food Shed Ltd, the sustainable agriculture and horticultural therapeutic social enterprise based in Chesterfield, has received more than £9,000 in funding thanks to the Coalfields Community Investment Programme, delivered by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

The Big Red Food Shed supports unemployed people, ex-offenders and their families and those living with learning disabilities and mental and physical illnesses. Through horticultural activities, including growing food to sell to the wider community, the organisation aims to develop confidence and improve the health and wellbeing of volunteers.

The funds, which total £9,032, will help to cover the cost of training five volunteers to achieve the RHS Level 1 in Practical Horticulture, and provide work experience and additional taster courses.

Founder and Managing Director for The Big Red Food Shed Ltd, Julie Lowe, comments: “We work hard to give our volunteers the opportunity to improve their skills and learn to grow their own fruit and vegetables, which in turn helps to improve their health and wellbeing. We also aim to encourage members of the wider community to adopt a healthier lifestyle by providing access to fresh, affordable produce grown organically.

“We have the first group of five people is nearing the completion of their Level 1 Award in Practical Horticulture I, certified by The Royal Horticultural Society, which is great.”

She adds: “The produce sales bring in money to allow us to continue to work sustainably, however we do rely on funding to provide our volunteers with the training and qualifications required to improve their employability. We cannot thank the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and its team enough for their invaluable support.”

Through the Community Investment Programme, The Big Red Food Shed Ltd will also have access to a bespoke schedule of practical support. Developed to meet with the specific needs of the organisation and its service users, this can vary from help with third-party funding applications and bid-writing, to tips on effective promotion and marketing.

Head of Operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Andy Lock said: “We know that health, wellbeing and the skills of local people is an ongoing challenge within the coalfield communities. In order to address this and make a lasting and positive impact, we must work with organisations like The Big Red Food Shed, whose programmes focus on both of these issues, to help improve the lives of local people. The organisation’s success is testament to the work that they do for people who need it the most; we are pleased that we are able to offer our support.”

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust was established in 1999. Since that time more than 2m people have benefited from support delivered by the organisation. Over 25,500 people have been supported into work, more than 5,500 jobs have been created or safeguarded, 1.3m people have received the necessary support to help improve their skills and gain qualifications and over 230,000 people have participated in activities that have improved their health.

The Coalfields Community Investment Programme supports organisations and programmes of activity that meet with three key criteria; to address skills, employment or health. For further information, visit: