RISE Social Enterprise

Possibilities for Opportunities

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “We are working with the Matthew Tree Project, who are trying to address food poverty in Bristol. They are looking for additional food growing land in the city, and it is council policy to increase the area of land available for the growing of food."

Bristol City Council press release, 26 March 2015

'RISE' is a sustainable city-wide social enterprise  to create 'Possibilities for Opportunities' by way of skills training and jobs, to improve health, connect communities and enable people to rebuild their lives and flourish.

Local food, healthy food, teaching people new skills, providing qualifications, creating jobs, transforming communities. RISE is an exciting pioneering initiative that has the potential to provide a real step-change for society.

The key elements of the RISE initiative illustrated above are:

  • Food growing plots of land in and around the city
  • RISE Skills Training Centre
  • Main food distribution hub for donated food aid and also to enable locally grown food a route to market
  • Own label food production kitchen(s)
  • Overall reduction in food waste via an over-arching logistics system
  • Retail shop outlets to bring the very best nutritious food to the poorest areas of the city at affordable prices

The RISE initiative is designed to address the underlying causes of poverty by creating an environment for people to have better life chances, with better access to training and development, to improve their life skills and employment opportunities, and to create aspiration jobs for the long term unemployed. It is to contribute toward stronger 'inspired' communities, with more active people working together to tackle their problems whilst at the same time improving the rural and urban environments, which people are better able to access and enjoy, and to facilitate a healthier and more active lifestyle for all. 

In May 2012 there were 6.38 million people under-employed, i.e. they wanted work or were seeking full-time work instead of part-time. Under-employment has not been this high since 1993. In 2011, of the 6 million people under-employed , 2.5 million were unemployed; 2.3 million were defined as economically inactive but wanting paid work; and 1.2 million were working part-time but wanted full time jobs. The number of part-time workers looking for full-time work has doubled since 2004. The huge rise in people working part-time instead of full-time indicates that the issue is the lack of jobs, not an unwillingness to look for work. Policies that focus solely on changing incentives to find work via benefit reform cannot solve this problem (data extract from Joseph Rowntree Foundation; quote from Colin Crooks book 'How to make a million jobs'). 

We aim to teach local people to grow fresh produce to the highest organic standards, so that it can be sold into the local food chain. 

In addition to the growing of fresh produce, we also plan to have a separate group being taught how to make own label food products in our 'cottage-industry' style production kitchen - food that can be also sold into the local food chain.

City-wide food distribution logistics and food retailing 'shops' also form important elements of the RISE social enterprise model which will enable us to provide a genuinely 'field-to-fork' local example of what can be achieved with smart thinking and collective partnership working.  

The objective is to create a financially sustainable model that enables us to offer apprenticeship programs to the long term unemployed, training in horticulture, agriculture, permaculture, and food processing skills for citizens to acquire the qualifications and experience they need for satisfying on-going and sustainable employment.

Clearly, creating the job opportunities is not enough in itself. Many long-term unemployed people have other issues that provide a barrier to re-entering the labour market. We are therefore developing programs that will take each client through the necessary transformational changes needed for such a lifestyle change.