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  • Nikki Vousden

Wavehill and Tir Coed: one percent pledge

Every year, Wavehill donates one percent of its profits to charitable causes that align with our values and ethos. All staff collectively choose a charity local to one of our four UK offices to support. This year our Aberaeron office, based in West Wales, selected Tir Coed. The charity’s work not only aligns with the work we do, but with our social values and our commitment to promoting environmental awareness and responsibility to help minimise our local carbon and ecological footprint.

Connecting people with the land.

The Welsh words Tir and Coed mean Land and Woods, the charity’s name symbolising what it does in connecting people and communities to nature. Tir Coed delivers outdoor training, learning and wellbeing programmes across Mid and West Wales. Its sites provide community facilities for educational and health activities, as well as creating job opportunities for disadvantaged individuals in rural Wales. The courses offered by Tir Coed are free, with an emphasis on helping people get into related employment. Places are open to everyone, with priority given to people who are unemployed or working under 16 hours per week.

We recently visited the site in Llanfarian (Ceredigion), which is a 20-minute drive from Wavehill’s Aberaeron office.  Tir Coed have been managing the site for 20 years, which is in steeply sloping, mixed woodland owned by Natural Resources Wales. The woodland was planted around 50 years ago and is a mix of evergreen trees, including clusters of Hemlock and Douglas Fir, as well as native deciduous varieties.

The Llanfarian site offers an accredited 12-week Sustainable Woodland Management course in the winter months and a 12-week Woodland Carpentry course in the summer months. Participants learn a variety of skills, including how to safely use a variety of hand tools such as axes and handsaws, how to fell a tree, how to make wooden mallets, or even a sawhorse. Alongside this Tir Coed offers a 20-week Sustainable Horticulture course between spring and autumn, it was instigated using a Keep Wales Tidy funding package. There are several types of raised beds, a no-dig gardening bed and a greenhouse where participants grow winter veg including onions, leaks, and potatoes. There is also an impressive wormery and luxurious-looking bug hotel. The taught elements of the courses, combined with hands-on activities, provide participants with an understanding of and appreciation for the natural environment. Activities undertaken create or improve green spaces for the benefit of everyone.

Resourcing the maintenance of the site on a day-to-day basis is a challenge because staff time is mainly funded by project-specific grants, which are focused on set outcomes. The Llanfarian site relies on a small core group of volunteers, who look after the gardens over winter and carry out simple maintenance tasks. The site has links with local organisations and the local community. It facilitates local community hub and mental health groups, which helps promote wellbeing and volunteering within the local community.

One percent pledge.

As part of our one percent pledge, we wanted to do more than just contribute financially. We wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about the work and impact that Tir Coed has. To that end, we spent the morning seeing for ourselves what happens at the site. We were able to chat to staff and participants who were taking part in a taster session for a 12-week Sustainable Woodland Management course. At lunchtime we sat round the fire and sampled roasted chestnuts, whilst talking to taster session participants about the upcoming course and what they were hoping to get out of it. We also chatted to the course Activity Leaders and people who had taken part in previous courses and subsequently become regular volunteers.

It was clear that Tir Coed does much more than help participants acquire outdoor skills – the opportunity to be in the natural environment, contribute to its management, and feel part of a supportive group can be a huge boost to people’s confidence and general wellbeing. And the woodlands are beautiful, with the trees creating a network of paths that form a gorgeous backdrop to the cluster of wooden structures which include workshop space, a storage shed, woodstore and compost toilet. Our visit gave us a really good understanding of Tir Coed’s work as well as the breadth of support and skills that they offer to people and communities.

As a responsible and ethical business, Wavehill are continually working to improve our social value and want to have a positive impact on our local communities. This includes nurturing positive relationships with local organisations and investing in local people and communities.

If you’re interested in taking part in a taster session at one of Tir Coed’s sites or want to get involved Contact - Tir Coed, or phone 01970 636909.


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