(L-R) Jim Hidderley (Wildgoose Rural Training), Stuart Bullock, Mark Davies, Phelelani Mhlungu (Resonance), David Bowen and Grace England (Resonance)
One of Worcestershire’s leading providers of land-based activities, training, education and work experience has completed its £500,000 relocation to a new site near Hallow, Worcester.
Wildgoose Rural Training, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, will now be able to support 150 people every year, supporting individuals with learning disabilities, brain injuries, mental health issues and young people who find school a challenge.
The social enterprise secured £85,000 from the Resonance West Midlands Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) fund to make the move possible, with this new form of finance providing the final part of a funding jigsaw that will give it access to 42-acres of land for use as a dedicated care farm, wide open spaces, settlement ponds and a new modular hub for its large training kitchen and activity centre.
The Board of Trustees and the staff of the charity are hoping the additional 36 acres can be used to support more students in developing skills for independent living, learning valuable trades and future voluntary and employability skills.
This is the latest in a series of investments from the Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund, launched in 2018 with £1.25m initial investment. It aims to create a £5m resource to support the growth of social enterprises tackling poverty and disadvantage across the region.
“We are delighted to be in our new home and have lots of exciting plans to help more students, whilst building new relationships with the general public and businesses who want to get involved in the work that we do,” explained Jim Hidderley, managing director of Wildgoose Rural Training.
“This was only achieved thanks to the support of a range of organisations and investors that recognised the potential of the project and now means we have a great opportunity to have an even bigger positive impact on our local community.”
He continued: “The final piece of the jigsaw was the £85,000 from the Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund, which gave us the opportunity to complete the project and build a modular hub on site.
“The latter will be a fantastic new facility where we can continue to run our training kitchen, whilst also hosting a visitor and education centre so we can engage with more local schools and the general public. It will also give us a place where we can showcase some of the great horticulture projects, craft skills and care farm work we take part in.”
“Wildgoose Rural Training is a great social enterprise that offers an amazing service - it has the potential to do so much more for people that need specialist support, but the previous site had reached maximum capacity,” added Grace England, investment manager at Resonance.
“The move is a brilliant opportunity to grow the business and its social impact. We’re delighted that the Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund could offer the final £85,000 that was needed to make such a significant project possible, on terms that really worked for the social enterprise.
“When you visit the new location, you can see how important our investment has been, especially now the team can support 50 more students every year and increase commercial revenue through access to more space and improved facilities.”
Most students pay to access the Wildgoose Rural Training service using their Personal Budgets - an amount allocated to individuals by Local Councils following an assessment of their support needs, giving them choice and control over their own care.
Income is also generated from larger school group visits and activity days, as well as the launch of new sessions and workshops that will make the most of the additional 36 acres of land.
Mark Davies, Chair of Wildgoose Rural Training, concluded: “I was really impressed with the speed that Grace and her team worked on the raise and this helped us meet some very stringent deadlines.
“SITR is a great way for social enterprises to unlock competitive finance that can help them expand and offer even more essential services to the communities they serve.”
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