We all know that spending time outside works wonders for both our physical and mental wellbeing. And outdoor expert social enterprise Gro Organic knows better than most how to provide activities that help promote good health, reduce isolation and build strong communities. The Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund is providing Gro Organic with a £150,000 investment to help them unlock further opportunities to expand their mentoring programme and landscaping service across the West Midlands.
This Queens Award winning social enterprise, based in Chelmsely Wood, run by a green-fingered team, started in 2011, when founder Sarah Treanor started helping out with her neighbours who were struggling with their own gardens. Sarah’s interest quickly grew into improving local outdoor spaces, and now, countless school workshops and green spaces later. Gro Organic is looking to take the next step in expanding its impact.
The team turns a seemingly lifeless outdoor space or patch of grass into an outstanding space full of potential: from outdoor classrooms complete with bug hotels and earth ovens, to therapy gardens for children with diverse needs, or urban regeneration for neglected plots on street corners. They’re all about transforming areas so people can really enjoy being outside. And it doesn’t stop there. Gro Organic helps educate: offering workshops on creating your own garden and growing your own food, encouraging young people to learn to love being outside, as well as providing specialist mentoring services for children facing difficulties with mainstream education.
Gro Organic also works to implement restorative justice with young offenders to increase their employability. It also offers horticultural therapy to vulnerable women as well as teaching gardening skills for people with disabilities.
Sarah Treanor said: “The Gro-Mentoring service has taken on even greater importance during the pandemic and we’ve seen the number of family referrals treble since the start of lockdown. This was already building on one of our busiest years and lots of exciting plans to deliver more projects that create transferrable skills and improve community cohesion.
“I’m delighted we have been able to secure investment to support our commitment to helping more people and this will be directed into new equipment, new expert assistance and recruitment and development of our specialist teams.”
Resonance recognized that expanding the Gro Organic’s team was crucial to supporting its ongoing and future work. So this investment is doing all that and more. The investment will mean that Gro Organic can expand its team, improve its resources and equipment which will enable it to increase its mentoring programme across a wider range of schools – engaging more children through Gro Organic’s enhanced curriculum mentoring support. The team is also using the investment to expand its landscaping services, creating more outstanding green spaces whilst growing its social impact through offering more training and employment opportunities.
Grace England, Senior Investment Manager for the Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund is excited to see what happens next: ‘We are thrilled to be supporting Gro Organic to kick start their next growth phase with an investment from the Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund. It has been brilliant to see Gro Organic grow and develop over the number of years we’ve been working with the team, and also to see them demonstrate their resilience, resourcefulness and ability to harness new opportunities in more recent times. We are delighted to see them continue to scale their business and impact at a time where their services are needed more than ever before.”
Asked about any particular challenges in getting the deal through over the past few months of the pandemic lockdown Grace said: “The investment has been slightly more delayed than planned as Gro Organic has of course had to prioritise its COVID-19 planning and response - but it has been great to see Gro Organic respond quickly to the pandemic and maintain activity across its key business and impact areas, whilst still planning for growth:
“Landscaping – this work is lower risk being outdoors, but social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures were quickly implemented to ensure service delivery could continue.
“Mentoring – in-school mentoring has moved smoothly to remote and socially distanced provision, and Gro is successfully utilising schools’ enhanced budgets for this support due to COVID-19.
“Service Users – Working virtually during lockdown has enabled Gro to reach an even wider audience and dramatically increase the size of their prospect list for this service.
“I think Gro is a great example of a social enterprise that is proving its resilience and resourcefulness to respond quickly and continue to make the most of all opportunities.”
Social Investment Tax Relief
The Resonance’s SITR Fund in the West Midlands provides a vital support scheme for social enterprises and charities that are working hard to improve vulnerable people’s lives in our communities across the country, providing solutions to some of their region’s most significant social problems, including:
Resonance also operates an SITR Fund in the South West.
For more information about investing in our SITR Funds click here.
If you’re a social enterprise based in the West Midlands or the South West and are looking for investment click here.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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