|Fund:||Business Support in Scotland|
|How the money was used:||
Belville Community Garden Trust (BCGT) use the environment to promote social inclusion and wellbeing services in their local community. They received a business health check from us to make sure their exciting plans for growth were sustainable.
BCGT was established in 2014 by local people in Greenock who wanted to bring the community together by breaking down barriers between people, building pride in the local environment and improving health and wellbeing. The Trust's activities are centred on gardening, horticulture and healthy eating.
How we helped
In November 2016, Mary Jarvie provided a financial health check. Mary and Janet Colston, Garden Manager, met at the garden and talked through a wide range of issues – governance, partnerships, aspirations for the future, challenges and successes. It was clear this is an organisation destined for an exciting future and Janet was keen to ensure its growth would be built on sound financial governance.
The health check concluded that BCGT is a financially healthy organisation, with an aspirational and effective project manager and an engaged and skilled board of local community members and organisation representatives.
The financial health check provided a review of the Trust’s policies and procedures and made some recommendations about its governance system. BCGT already had an agreed way of working across all relevant areas and was doing an excellent job. But for the future it was important to set a standard approach that everyone understands. Mary suggested a list of policies for development and places to go for support and information.
“The advice made me think about how to go forward, minimising risks, looking at alternative options”
“For me as an individual manager, it opened up new ideas for what I could be doing – strategic direction and financial planning. It helped me focus on long and short term aims and on business growth. It made me think more like a business and about being sustainable and it helped me visualise what I needed to do with the project”
Janet Colston, Garden Manager, Belville Community Garden Trust
Mary also suggested a format for formalising the organisation’s financial governance and provided a list of financial procedures and controls that should be developed as part of a financial procedures manual. The manual will act as a reference for board members, managers and other staff, particularly important as the organisation expands. Other operational issues were also considered, including human resources and longer term sustainability plans.
What was the outcome?
Janet valued the support provided by the financial health check. The written report provided a useful ‘to do’ list, but it was the discussion with Mary about the future of the project that made a significant impact - bouncing ideas off each other, talking through the nuances of managing a project with a wide range of impacts and challenges.
Now supported by a major grant from the Climate Challenge Fund, the BCGT is connecting food growing across Inverclyde, working in partnership to grow food, run community cookery and preserving workshops, food growing training, community outreach, work with schools, waste and climate change workshops and work-based skills development for people with learning disabilities and autism.
Importantly, the project is at the forefront of hydroponic systems in Scotland, trialling this new approach to increased food production efficency and sustainability, using vertical growing space and solar energy. A bright future lies ahead.