Wood recycling at the core of new social enterprise hub

Members of Somerset Wood Recycling help move wood into their new premises.

A green enterprise that provides opportunities for disadvantaged people has moved into larger premises which it plans to develop as a new ‘social enterprise hub’ in North Somerset.

We provided a loan to Somerset Wood Recycling to cover the costs of moving in and making improvements to the Motex Centre in Weston-super-Mare. The 14,000 sq ft premises will provide the growing business with nearly four times as much space for a workshop, warehouse, showroom and office as well as offices and a training room for three other social enterprises.

The move demonstrates how successful Somerset Wood Recycling has been in building a bigger and more sustainable business. Two years ago it was awarded a contract from North Somerset Council to provide an outdoor maintenance and repairs service. Since then it has won larger and longer-term contracts from local authorities and housing associations.

Tristan Tudor, the manager, who was one of the two people who started the project in 2006, said: “The maintenance and repair contracts are providing an extra and more secure source of regular income and have enabled us to create more jobs and train more people. However wood recycling remains the core of our business.”

Somerset Wood Recycling collects waste wood and timber from businesses, building sites and domestic premises in Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding area. The material is taken to its warehouse where it is sorted and used in the most environmentally beneficial way. At least 80% of the wood collected is reused; about half of it is sold as timber for DIY or woodworking, and much of the rest is used to make a range of products for sale including benches, plant boxes and bird tables.

Somerset Wood Recycling is part of a network of community wood recycling projects that combine the environmental benefits of reuse and recycling with the social impact of providing training and opportunities for disadvantaged people.

Tristan Tudor said: “We provide opportunities for training and volunteering for between 100 and 150 people a year, and this is really the primary purpose of the project. Some of our volunteers have had drug or alcohol addiction problems, some of them have learning difficulties, some have mental health issues and some have been unemployed for a long time.”

The loan is being drawn from the Avon & Bristol Co-operative Finance Fund which is one of a number of specialist funds managed by Co-operative & Community Finance.

Our investment manager, Ian Taylor said: “Since I first visited them 18 months ago, Somerset Wood Recycling has diversified and won new contracts. It is a successful social enterprise that provides good cost-effective services and delivers social and environmental benefits. We are delighted to help finance their move to larger premises.”