newcastle wood recycling
Key Fund believes in start-ups with environmental and social impact, such as Newcastle Wood Recycling.
Newcastle Wood Recycling CIC offers a waste wood collection service, reclaimed firewood, and furniture for retail, providing jobs, training and volunteering opportunities in the community.
Beth McDonough has a background in youth and community work. Prior to this, Beth had experienced difficulty finding meaningful employment or any true direction after dropping out of college in her early 20s.
From a creative family, she signed up to a carpentry course.
Aged 29, she Googled ‘reclaimed timber Newcastle’ to source old wood for a project, but didn’t find much in the area. She did stumble on a wood recycling community project in Brighton and Hove. In that moment, she knew her direction – combining her experience in community work, and her new found passion for carpentry.
Over two and a half years, while studying and working two jobs, she began tapping into various training, grant funds, and networks.
She completed a start-up programme with Project North East and the School for Social Entrepreneurs and sought pre-seed support. She volunteered at wood recycling enterprises and undertook managerial training at the National Community Wood Recycling Project.
With no money or assets, she was stuck. Key Fund stepped in with a £25k loan to purchase a van to collect waste wood, and support initial cash flow. In September 2014, she began trading.
Turnover in her first year was £55k, consisting solely of loans and grants. The next year, she stood her own, generating £56k, and is on track to reach £80k this year.
In addition to the environmental aims, the enterprise seeks to combat social exclusion through volunteering and work placements for marginalised groups.
Her first year of trading provided 1,258 individual training sessions and rescued 300 tonnes of waste wood from the waste stream. She has taken on one full-time member of staff and has 10-15 volunteers at any one time.
Key Fund offers a really good opportunity to access funds. They were really flexible with me – they see the potential and looked at different ways to support us and wanted us to succeed as much as we did; it’s really motivational.”
Beth McDonough, Founder of Newcastle Wood Recycling.