Co-op culture and Making Local Woods Work

Making Local Woods Work succeeds through our network of experienced and knowledgeable advisors who provide tailored advice to help our groups achieve their own goals. Our advisors specialise in a range of different areas including business planning, surveying, share offers and woodland management to name but a few, often working with groups which might not qualify for other social enterprise support programmes.

One of our most committed groups, with an active network of MLWW advisors, come from Co-op Culture. Co-op Culture is a small co-op of community enterprise development advisers working across the UK. Indeed, several of their members are active woodland workers as well as being involved in traditional crafts such as wooden boat building.

They have a particular interest in sustainable land-based enterprise and were very active in pre-Making Local Woods Work (MLWW) days, contributing to early meetings of the Woodland Social Enterprise Network. They also helped the National Forest to develop their community woodfuel project and supported Shared Assets in their baselining research for the Forestry Commission on the scope and state of the Woodland Social Enterprise sector.

Being a part of MLWW has allowed Co-op Culture to deliver a whole range of business support to new and existing woodland social enterprises. Their experience has been invaluable in helping MLWW groups on their way to financial sustainability.

To put this into context we have shared below some examples of the work the group has undertaken for MLWW. They have particular expertise and experience around community shares and worked with Whistlewood Common to develop their marketing plan and share offer to develop a straw bale building on their Derbyshire site. The offer closes soon so be quick if you would like to get involved http://www.whistlewoodcommon.org/buy-a-share/. Advisors Andy Woodcock and Rhiannon Westphal have worked with both Leeds Coppice Workers and Kindlewoods around their legal structures, HR and financial systems.

Associate and experienced forester Matt Taylor is currently assisting Woody (Hyndburn) CIC to assess the commercial potential of their work and the woodlands they manage. While Nathan Brown, has worked with Vert Woods Community Woodland around their vision, mission and governance. Nathan was recently interviewed whilst working with Vert Woods Community Woodland. You can find the short film, which focuses on CBS governance here. Nathan has also worked with Beamz CIC and London Green Wood around legal structures and governance.

Finally, Mark Simmonds has supported Athelas CIC, a co-op of woodland educators, to develop their marketing and business plans which has allowed them to access funding. Mark has also made himself available to facilitate our regional networking days to much acclaim. As Mark says “MLWW networking events have been invaluable, the peer to peer stuff is often the most valuable yet oft-neglected aspect of support”.

MLWW has had some great feedback from groups working with Co-op Culture including “I know we all feel more confident and able going forward. The help was just what we needed”. MLWW looks forward to continuing to work with the team at Co-op Culture as we enter the second half of the project. Keep up the good work!

(Photo credit – Walter Lewis www.feedingbodyandsoul.com)

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