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Forests With Impact – proud to be part of the journey

Last month our MD Barry Collins spent a day at HMP Haverigg in Cumbria being a small part of a video to help launch the Forests with Impact project. Here’s what he had to say about it:


It can feel strange to be at a launch event for something you have been closely associated with for five or six years, but this really did feel like a launch pad! Forests with Impact (FWI) is a Community Interest Company working with a broad cross section of public, private and third sector partners to support the Prison Service address rehabilitation.


It was a seed (sorry there may be horticultural references/puns throughout) of an idea six years ago, what could be done on unused land adjacent to Haverigg Prison to assist in the rehabilitation agenda and help those disadvantaged in the local community of Millom? Led by a team from Sunbelt Rentals, who saw the opportunity and never gave up, we eventually came to the model of a Community interest Company (CiC) which would operate a commercial tree nursey on land owned by HMP Haverigg to grow saplings, from seed, over a two year period, for sale into primarily the construction and infrastructure sectors to help companies meet the tree planting requirements set by the Government. The surplus made would then be used to extend training in the prison, and offer training opportunities to the local community, not just in horticultural skills, but to train in skill shortage areas such as HGV drivers, Joiners, and even Baristas. The training opportunities are endless, because the funding will be completely flexible and therefore the green shoots of opportunity and growth are not fettered by red tape. Simple.


Well, actually no, not simple. Many people deserve to be named for their vision, their tenacity, and their sheer hard work, but I’ll keep to main players. The team from Sunbelt Rentals have brought such levels of perseverance, they knew all along the idea was right, and no matter what the obstacles, they held onto the vision of a project they really believed could deliver significant social and environmental benefit. Haverigg Prison has been crucial to the success. Over the last 30 years I have worked with many prisons, but Haverigg have gone the extra mile, they too saw the incredible opportunity and would not let it slip, without them the project would not have got off the ground, the skill set their staff and prisoners hold has been crucial.


Sometimes in life you just get lucky, and that’s how I feel about my engagement with this project and the people it has brought me into contact with. The project has been through many iterations, but throughout the process its primary purpose has remained unchanged in helping the rehabilitation agenda, and local disadvantaged communities. It is still at its acorn stage, but it has the key partners to grow to a mighty oak.


Our role going forward is locked into the social value measurement and reporting of the project, and this project will blossom with social value annually, as trees go into our communities and training of prisoners and local people grows annually. In social value terms this project has a ‘golden thread’ of activity to impact.


If you would like to get involved, contact

At Collins McHugh we can help you every step of the way. If you’d like more information, please do get in touch on 0330 223 2965 or email

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