We opened our first site in Aldershot in June 2009, this is a summary of what we did until October 2010. Then we started expanding this business by creating an ethical social enterprise franchise opportunity so that people in other areas can benefit from our achievements and obtain the support will they need to set up their own version of this business in their community.
All the activities at the Centre and income it receives are used to benefit the local community, its people, the local economy and environment.
We did not rely on bank loans, grants or support from the public sector to set up and run this business, because bureaucracy and politics are hindering small businesses from creating a low carbon economy. Instead the start up funds and working capital were invested by local people who supported us because they wanted to see this change happen within their community.
The key to our success is mostly due to the practical skills, local knowledge and ‘can do’ attitude of the social entrepreneur who set up this company.
Our Founder Trudy Thompson has considerable hands-on experience of sustainable building, low carbon business and living a self sufficient lifestyle. By sharing this knowledge and collaborating with her network of contacts this social enterprise has overcome issues and grown rapidly as a viable business.
Bricks and Bread Sustainable Living Centre
The Centre is run as a zero carbon business with zero waste to landfill. It is a venue where people gain easy access to inspiring experts who share their knowledge and skills to enable more people to live, work and build more sustainably. Trudy Thompson created this business because she was determined to help people learn and adapt to a low carbon society. To do this she shared her expertise and enabled people to collaborate in projects and events at the Centre.
Customers of the Centre are able to save money or make money from discovering new opportunities from experts with green skills. Anyone who visits or contacts the Centre can easily access local experts, skills training and advice about ecobuilding, low carbon business and self sufficiency.
The main focus of the business is to create a sustainable local supply chain, reducing energy and water use from homes or businesses, encouraging local food production, waste reuse and recycling.
The Centre has free loyalty card schemes for people who live or work in the local area.
There are 8670 residents who have joined the main scheme, they benefit from discounts and access to verified products and services offered by local businesses who are members of the Bricks and Bread Sustainable Business Network which has 2598 members made up of organisations of all size, more than 80% are local small businesses.
Business members and local residents are offered the opportunity to meet with our experts at events or one-to-one sessions at the Centre to find ways to work alongside us or to benefit from our network of contacts.
Due to our proactive networking activities we have connected our members with valuable business contacts and as a collaborative hub our members are benefitting from discounts we have negotiated from suppliers on their behalf.
In the last 12 months the Centre has contributed to businesses benefiting from attracting over £17 million pounds worth of sales or investment funds into their business.
We have helped local people and business to save £16 million pounds in costs by enabling them to access the right advice, training, services or products at substantially discounted rates.
Visitors to the Centre from June 2009 to October 2010
9310 Local resident visitors
10377 Businesses visitors
1298 Children have visited the Centre for free training and awareness events
Notable achievements and academic case studies
Trudy Thompson was invited to become a Fellow of the RSA in recognition of her work as a social entrepreneur promoting sustainable development
RSA Social Entrepreneurs Network Spotlight
– Bricks and Bread is one of 9 social enterprises being supported and case studied over the following 12 months by the RSA Social Entrepreneurs Network
Sustainable Entrepreneurship in SME’s A Case Study by Dr Cheryl Rodgers of Portsmouth University, Course Director of MSc Business & Management (MBM) Portsmouth Business School. The case study won best paper award at an international conference it featured eco entrepreneurial innovation by Trudy Thompson as an eco builder and in creating the social enterprise Bricks and Bread Sustainable Living Centre.
Video Case Study for MA in innovation at Greenwich University by Professor Victor Newman – This MA course is only for people who are involved in making something new or different happen in their work. Victor Newman is a visiting Professor in Knowledge & Innovation Management at The Business School, The University of Greenwich. Trudy Thompson was interviewed for a video resource which will be used to influence the students and the new curriculum on the new part-time MA-I (MA in Applied Professional Studies [Innovation]). In the interview Trudy was asked to give three stories of innovation and solutions she has used in her business to inspire the students.
Start Garden Party at Clarence House – September 2010 A 12 day event in the grounds of Clarence House to promote sustainable living. Trudy Thompson was a guest speaker at the event.
Expert Advice Services
2232 Small business members of our network have come to the Centre for one-to-one meetings and obtained business support from our experts.
Support for social enterprises at the Centre
We have provided support and advice for social enterprises about funding, business advice about accounting, sales and marketing, we have operated networking events and action learning.
We have worked in collaboration and supported the work of the following organisations;
supporting social enterprise; SE2, Peer to Peer Action Learning, RSA Social Entrepreneurs Network, Hampshire Social Entrepreneurs Network and the CIC Association.
Free advice clinic on Saturdays for local residents
183 residents have obtained free advice in our half hour clinic which started in August 2009. Advice was given about eco building, low carbon business, self sufficiency and sustainable careers.
64 local residents paid for a home visit by an expert giving waste and energy saving advice, then supplied with products from verified suppliers to carry out the work.
13 were given a free energy saving audit, these were residents within a mile of the Centre and living in fuel poverty.
Volunteering & Work Experience
Pupils from Heath End School on the alternative curriculum have had weekly work experience with us. 1 student has worked at the Centre once a week for over a year as part of his school education programme
14 students with disabilities or learning difficulties had work experience with us 26 adults ranging from 18 years to 83 years old have worked at the centre as volunteers, 3 have now set up their own business and work alongside us.
Training Courses, seminars and presentations
The reality of eco building – Bricks and Bread’s own non accredited course
An overview of Trudy Thompson’s hands-on experience of 22 retro fit and 11 new build eco homes, highlighting the issues and solutions. At the same events our approved installers and product suppliers display samples, materials and working demonstrations of the systems they install, this enables delegates to talk to them about technical and sales enquiries. This event is held every month at the Centre. 1297 people have attended the talk for free since September 2009
Suscon – Sustainable construction skills training courses
Energy Use and Carbon Auditing in Buildings by Jae Mather, Carbon Free Group – were held at the Centre and funded for free training of unemployed people or those who run or work for a small business – 57 people have attended this coursefor free
Parity Projects – Eco building accredited BTEC
18 free places given to unemployed local people and small business owners
NEETs recruitment and training days
822 – people have attended these sessions held monthly at the Centre – careers advice for all ages, backgrounds and abilities
Self sufficiency training
Saturday visits to local producers and farms or to attend rural craft skills courses 38 Visits have been arranged – 950 local people have attended these events
Social Enterprise Advice, Training & Events
These are the advice services, business enterprise training and support services held regularly at Bricks and Bread. This year our activities were delivering services for the Office for Civil Society. Delegates who took part in these events were local social entrepreneurs, mostly RSA Fellows involved in social change projects
and teachers from local schools who organise work experience for students. Also people at all stages of business development, from start up to established enterprises,
as well as unemployed or retired people looking to work within the third sector.
Peer to Peer action learning group
Up to 10 social entrepreneurs meet every month to take part in this confidential meeting to help them develop their business and resolve issues with support from their peers.
Social Enterprise Visits
80 delegates have been to free events where they had a tour of the centre to see a working demonstration of a social enterprise. Talks were given by Trudy Thompson and other social entrepreneurs who work at the Centre about the opportunities and issues they face in running a third sector business.
Focus Group – 14 social entrepreneurs have attended this free session to engage with local social enterprises and identify key issues affecting the sector/barriers to growth. An open forum discussion enabled delegates to raise their issues and find solutions with other social entrepreneurs.
Awareness raising event – 66 delegates attended this free event. Exhibition and seminar event held in the Showroom at Bricks and Bread. Display stands by social enterprises and organisations that support social enterprises, to promote their business to delegates. Seminar was run alongside exhibition to raise awareness about starting a social enterprise and highlighting the income/ funding opportunities available.
Capacity Builders event – Finance for social enterprises – 37 delegates attended this event. Aim was to up-skill and support existing social enterprises with a training and advice seminar about financing social enterprises; raising grants and operating social enterprises as viable businesses to compete with mainstream business.
Workshop on access to finance - talks on raising finance from private and public sources. Delegates were given a half day session with a venture capital investor to help them create a financial plan suitable for raising funding.
Venue Hired or Events run at the Centre by other organisations – The following events were run in collaboration with other organisations they were mostly free and available for anyone to book onto, more than 800 people have attended.
Permaculture Association AGM - over 100 people attended the event
Aspire Sustainable Schools Challenge - 50 teenagers entered this prize competition to design a sustainable army barracks
Aspire Sustainability week - supplied samples of sustainable products for this event
Farnham Heath End School - Sustainable education days for 300 Year 8 pupils
RSA Surrey Network - monthly meetings for local RSA Fellows and guests
AECB - regular talks for members of the Association for Environment Conscious Building
Centre for Sustainable Design – Sustainable Building Technology and innovation seminars
Action Sustainability -Dragons den style event introducing sustainable innovation products to buyers
British Science Festival - tour of the Centre, local renewable energy installations and a screening of the film the Age of Stupid
Centre for Sustainability Southampton - tours of the Centre and a local eco home
First Partnership - meeting rooms hired for events to train young people
Home education network - local children attended creative workshops at the Centre
350.org - Raising awareness about reducing carbon we run creative projects for local children using natural and waste materials
Events for the local community
Brickfields Country Park - The Centre had a stall at their annual event and has rebuilt their brick sign after it was vandalised
First Partnership Rushmoor Schools Event - Trudy Thompson spent 2 days at this event speaking to 80 local school children about her job at the Centre
Greening and Transition Town Groups - The Centre has attended several events and given talks at these local group meetings
Greening Alton – Trudy Thompson was a guest speaker at this event and gave practical advice about fitting insulation
Surrey Hills Wood Fair – Trudy Thompson attended this event to give advice to local people about installing biomass systems
Trudy Thompson has been giving talks at events in London and the South East region.
More than 19,000 people have heard her give inspiring and informative talks about her real life experience and unique career path – from growing up in a farming/commercial horticulture smallholding in rural Hampshire, to her career as a racing driver, then changing her whole lifestyle to be more self sufficient, running her own eco building firm and becoming a social entrepreneur.
Subjects presented about include – Sustainable Careers Advice, Bricks and Bread Sustainable Living Centres, Sustainable Business Networking, The Reality of Eco Building, Insulation and Saving Energy in Property, Adapt a Modern Life to Become Self Sufficient, Running a Low Carbon Business, Construction Waste Reuse, Sending Zero Business Waste to Landfill, Making Money from Waste, Fitting Renewable Energy Systems, Social Entrepreneurism, Sustainable Building Technologies, Making Money from Green Business, Opportunities now for the Rural Economy, Permaculture for commercial growers,
The talks have been held at seminars and events at;
Clarence House Start Garden Party to make a difference
RSA Social Enterprise social entrepreneur Network
RSA Surrey Fellowship
Suscon – Sustainable Careers training
Royal Grammar School – renewable energy presentation
Freiburg, Germany – Energy meeting for Twinned Cities
Aspire Defence Sustainable Schools Event
Dorking Business Show
Centre for Sustainable Design
SE2 in Milton Keynes
Heath End School Farnham
Board meetings for major local corporate organisations
Material Lab in Oxford Street
Guildford Environmental Forum meetings
Guildford Borough Council
Transition Town and Greening events
Products – Verified suppliers of products and services
Most of our work is based on giving expert knowledge, we specialise in ensuring people have the right advice on the most suitable products or services required for their project or business, we refer sales to our suppliers from local businesses, major construction companies, local small builders and residents.
From the outset of creating this business it was vitally important that when selling products we maintain our integrity and reputation as independent experts, rather than being profit motivated and selling products that are ‘green washed’ or compromise our buying and selling standards.
1026 sales people have been interviewed and 48 products have been verified as truly sustainable products that have met the criteria of our buying and selling policy. These
products are mostly made or sold by local businesses for eco building, low carbon business or for self sufficiency.
We work with the businesses who have not met our sustainable procurement standards, to support them into achieving this in the future, this means we help them find sustainable raw materials, guide them in reducing their waste and packing, or provide training to their staff and local installers.
Members of our loyalty card schemes benefit from the significant discounts we negotiate from sustainable product/service suppliers.
We are creating affiliation schemes with suppliers so that the sales they make from working with the Centre will return an income to our social enterprise and enable us to
subsidise more of our events and training courses to local people.
Reuse of waste
We have had considerable support from Jonathan Essex of Bioregional with our waste reuse activities, he has connected us with local people who are involved in projects to reuse waste and guided us on the legislation, thanks to Jonathan we are now working with Remploy to enable more manufacturing of waste reuse to take place in the UK through their factories which employ disabled and disadvantaged people.
Construction waste reuse
Started in September 2009 – 23 Tonnes have been reused and diverted from landfill via the Centre or through verified members of our Sustainable Business Network
4667 items have been donated in a year – All the furniture used at the Centre for shop fitting, events and training courses was donated by local residents, builders an demolition companies. Income from architectural salvage sales has raised £3000 which has subsided free courses and events for local people
Started in April 2010 to provide materials for events involving young people including; creative art events operated at the Centre, competitions at the Centre for children to find innovative uses of waste, support for after school clubs using the scrap store to make creative artwork from waste
Business waste diverted from landfill or recycling
Started in March 2010 – Local business owners have been put in touch with organisations who have helped them reduce, reuse or recycle their waste this has saved them money and in most cases has also given them an income
Marketing, sales & PR
Loyalty Card Schemes – The Centre has loyalty card schemes for people who live or work in the local area. There are 8670 residents in the main scheme, they benefit from the products and services offered by verified local businesses who are members of the Bricks and Bread Sustainable Business Network. There are 2598 members of our Sustainable Business Network which is made up of organisations of all sizes. More than 80% are local small businesses with 1-5 employees.
Online activity – www.bricksandbread.com
– since March 2010 our website has had an average rate of 9000 hits a week and our social media sites on Linkedin and Twitter have 30,000 followers.
Direct mail – A total of 4500 letters have been put through local residents doors asking for either their help or support. We have sent out 4 direct mail shots in the last year, individually put through letter boxes by volunteers. 81% of residents responded to each mailing within one month 2.8% of residents who didn’t respond instantly, subsequently got in touch and brought a copy of the original mailing, some people had kept the document for nearly a year.
Media activity and press articles – Pictures from the 350.org to promote awareness about carbon emissions appeared on their website and on screens in Times Square, New York . Trudy Thompson has been featured in articles for national and local press. Radio interviews with radio stations in UK, South African and USA. TV interview with Taiwan Environmental Network
Marketing & Information material – We have distributed over 5,000 Books of Green – promoting sustainable business and over 40,000+ information leaflets about sustainable products
We have created a manual for operating the different parts of our business, the branding is being licensed, a fair franchise and a lease agreement is being created to enable 19 franchisees to set up their own version of Bricks and Bread in the UK over the next 12 months (mostly in South East region).
The Aldershot Centre will become a training centre for the franchisees and their staff. It will also provide more office space, meeting rooms and venue hire for sustainable business and social enterprise start ups.
Current and ongoing events
Support for social enterprises – Events to demonstrate how Bricks and Bread runs a social enterprise without funding. These are networking opportunities for people to meet the local businesses who support or buy from social enterprises. Along with advice clinics on finance, marketing and selling products and services
The reality of eco building – It offers an overview of our hands on experience of building eco homes. At this event approved installers and product suppliers bring displays of the systems they install – this event is held every month
Peer to Peer Action Learning – Group sessions to support social enterprises in action learning training to help them develop their business or overcome issues in a confidential situation with expert advisors in the group to support their learning
Remade South East – Site Waste Workshops for construction firms at the Centre
Hollywater School, Bordon – every year 10 children with learning difficulties and disabilities will take part in a two week programme of work experience at the Centre
Federation of Small Business AGM – Held at the Centre with Trudy Thompson as the keynote speaker about her work as a social entrepreneur