Client Stories

Case Study: Squash Nutrition

Good-food collective Squash Nutrition is committed to promoting food health in their local community. Co-Director Clare Owens explains how this social enterprise can keep a head for business and still focus on people rather than profit.

Squash Nutrition is a social enterprise based in Toxteth, Liverpool, and we’re committed to not only promoting food health but also creating positive environmental action within our local community. We’ve been developing and activating health projects with deprived communities since 2007, using food and the environment as tools for social inclusion.

We’re business-like, but not profit-focused. We follow a mixed economy approach, seeking both grant and commissioned/earned income and reinvesting our profits in our ongoing environmental initiatives.

Our primary purpose is to support people who may have been socially or culturally excluded from having access to good food. We aim to encourage skill-sharing, participation, exchange, innovation and empowerment. We employ creative solutions to enable marginalised people to make better health choices and work with communities to make greener, more sustainable local environments.

Squash Nutrition has two full-time workers who oversee the day-to-day business of the organisation. We also have five volunteers supporting our community programmes. We commission part-time administrators and work with a fantastic pool of freelance artists, nutritionists, youth workers, film-makers and project managers on whom we can draw to lead particular projects.

Plans for the future

We have ambitious growth plans for Squash Nutrition. We’ve recently set up urban bee-hives and are currently running training courses to help local people become bee-keepers, with a view to establishing a new income stream focused on local honey and other hive products. And this year we want to grow the Toxteth-based ‘Windsor Grassroots, Greenshoots’ project that is creating a green corridor connecting the suburbs and the city.

Our turnover has grown steadily over recent years. 2009 saw a turnover of £34,000 and in 2010 it had risen to just over £102,000. We invest part of our annual surplus in enhancing projects that are of particular interest to the community and in 2011/12 this will be for bee-keeping. We are also working on building up our reserves in line with a recent policy our board has put in place and part of our annual surplus will be used for this.

Looking at the longer term, over the next two to three years we believe our business can expand to help create a more sustainable future for our local community. We’ve identified a number of areas where our work can support that goal.

Since May 2010 we’ve worked with over 300 local Toxteth residents who have taken part in free workshops, community markets and training courses. The feedback has been exceptional and residents have said that they would like access to more of these.

Areas of development

We’re proud to have been commended by local agencies and community health bodies, who have suggested some key areas for us to develop:

  • Working with residents in local supported day-care and sheltered housing
  • Developing a plot of local land into a food garden
  • Creating a ‘pop-up’ kitchen to take creative, tasty cooking direct to the streets

To grow, we’ll need to dedicate time and resources and develop our publicity and marketing strategy in order to attract potential investors and sponsors. We’ll need to take on extra specialist marketing and admin staff to help us progress in this area.

We see Squash Nutrition playing a vital role in supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our local area. Therefore, by continuing to grow and develop our passions, we’ll be of great benefit to our community.

Squash Nutrition recently entered Santander’s Social Enterprise Development Awards (SEDA) for a chance to win a share of the prize fund. We had a robust business plan and this, coupled with our proven social and community emphasis, meant we were awarded £15,000. This will help us to not only employ an administrator but also develop our publicity and marketing tools. The future for both Squash Nutrition and our local community looks fruitful indeed.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK