Client Story


  • Location: Nottingham
  • Sector: Agriculture, Horticulture & Environmental Management
  • Amount: £77k
  • Purpose: Purchase Building
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Meet Michael
Michael was walking his dog in Newstead Abbey Park when he came across four youngsters, a fishing line, and a fair bit of litter. He quickly agreed to set up a little fishing club for them but on the condition they were willing to learn about looking after the environment. 16 kids turned up to the first meeting, and that’s how CAST started! Michael secured the fishing rights to the lakes in the park on the basis the young people would work with The Abbey staff with the aim of reducing anti-social behaviour.

Key Fund helped CAST purchase their building and become an independent enterprise, with a total investment of £77.6k.


Based in Nottingham and Derbyshire, CAST delivers landscape work in the village, from running community projects restoring woodlands to designing a vegetable garden for a special needs school, ensuring the community benefits as well as the young people. Established in 2003, CAST became an independent enterprise in 2016.

“I was aware of social problems in the village and also aware that fishing has been a source of community cohesion for young men in colliery villages. Research shows fishing is an effective way of working with people with autism, dyslexia and ADHD, and works well for particularly hard to reach young men.” – Michael

The Challenge

CAST primarily helps children who don’t engage with school. With a real focus on building practical skills, working outdoors, and teamwork. We focus on how to work in a group, how to engage with other people, building self-esteem, but we’re also providing qualifications so they’re fit for the workplace.

They supported me with my anger issues basically, and taught me to control and deal with everything. They’ve shown me the bright side of having autism, not the dark side of it.

Starr – CAST

Starr, 17, became CAST’s first apprentice in Sept 2017, and now works full time in admin. Her school considered her one of the most problematic students they’d ever had; struggling with the classroom environment, she battled with anxiety. CAST helped her get a proper diagnosis of ADHD and Autism, as well as the right medication. Alongside working full-time at CAST, she’s studying Business Administration at college.

The Solution

Key Fund helped CAST purchase their building and become an independent enterprise, with a total investment of £77.6k.

The team of 12 key staff, including one Director, were disengaged young people who came to CAST as children. Currently, 84 are on their schools course; a further 200 engage in their after-school projects. Young people can now complete a BTEC in Land-Based studies.

Referrals are from local authorities and partner agencies including youth justice departments and social services.

Their work builds self-belief, confidence and appropriate life-skills for young people whose futures are at risk. 

The Feedback

“The local council were going to sell the building; if we hadn’t been able to buy it we’d have been baseless. Key Fund support meant we were able to continue – so it’s been absolutely essential. Now we’re sustainable, our surplus last year was just over £50k so we’ve got a good business model working.”

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