The Green Treehouse is a craft and community café in its infancy as a charity. It is a social enterprise that will attract all age groups from the local community to various group activities that will be run throughout the day. Organised programmes of recreational, social, leisure, physical, educational and other craft activities for mum’s and toddler groups, carers, young people and the elderly will be run along with a café which will generate income to help ensure the initial pilot scheme achieves the goals of the charity; which is to be a successful community outreach project within 12 months of opening that can be upscaled to a larger venture.

Evidence of a successful programme of activities servicing all areas of the local community will be obtained to secure future funding to enable the charity to continue to deliver its core activities in Biddulph and surrounding areas including Congleton on the border with Cheshire.

Chairman, Amanda Beech, contacted Cheshire Connect in November 2015 to explore how Cheshire Connect works and discuss the current skills requirements for the charity. As Biddulph is 4 miles over the Cheshire border and would be providing a service for clients from within Cheshire the decision was made that Cheshire Connect could offer support. At that time the most immediate concern was to aquire premises.

Helen Rankine from Cheshire Connect contacted Kevin Cook of Business Doctors, Cheshire, an organisation that helps small and medium-sized enterprises to grow and flourish, and he agreed to provide the skills The GreenTreehouse required to become established. Kevin generated a business overview for the charity with a 3-5year strategy plus immediate 12month critical activities. These documents have been used when presenting to the council and prospective landlords.

He generated a budget spreadsheet for the first 12 months, with financial modelling to support the goals of the charity, as well as immediate interactions with the landlord of the initial prospective premises with the aim of reducing the rent. Kevin also reviewed any legal documents with regard to supporting the acquisition of premises plus reviewed rental agreements prior to signing. The initial premises proved unsuitable and so began a search for a more acceptable building. Finally, in June 2016 premises were acquired.

Kevin Cook said: “I first heard about Cheshire Connect at an East Cheshire Chamber business briefing and was keen to get involved. I initially agreed a simple strategic plan for The Green Treehouse, with the key objective for 2016 being to acquire premises from which it can operate. One of my areas of expertise is property and lease acquisition so I was able to provide lots of practical support to The Green Treehouse in their search for these premises.

This proved particularly valuable when the original premises that they were hoping to acquire fell through in negotiation, we were able to re-group and re-focus with the result a few months later being the lease now agreed and the charity in occupation of its new home.

It is terrific to be able to give my time to a charitable cause and help it by doing something that I am good at. It is extremely fulfilling to see The Green Treehouse achieve a major milestone as it establishes its services to the local community”

Amanda commented “To have access to a business professional to give the charity the means to go forward with a realistic business plan and guidance has been fantastic. It has enabled the first step of the successful development of the charity which has been to obtain leasehold of suitable premises. And from here we shall move forward to deliver our core goals to the local community”

Cheshire Connect

Pictured above: Kevin Cook of Business Doctors and Amanda Beech Chair of The Green Treehouse outside the newly acquired premises