About us

Click here to read our Social Impact and Annual Report 2015-16

Click here to read our Social Impact and Annual Report 2014-15

Click here to read our Social Impact and Annual Report 2013-14


Our philosophy

At Tree Shepherd, we believe that everyone has the right to the self-respect, health and well-being that comes from useful and rewarding employment.

We believe that unemployment is the most pressing issue facing society. Its effects are more toxic than is commonly understood. Unemployment is a primary cause of homelessness, crime, poor environment, obesity, mental health issues, and depression.

We recognise, though, that for millions of people in this country work is but a distant dream. We believe that the real solution to worklessness is to help people create jobs in the areas that most need them and jobs that are appropriate to the skills of the people who live there.

We work with the natural entrepreneurial skills of local people and support them to transform where they live from places of neglect to places of opportunity. We help enterprises to start, develop and grow and help create the conditions where new jobs can be created.

The scale of the issue

Tree Shepherd Start Your Own Enterprise from Lydia Gardner on Vimeo.

Unemployment is also a much larger issue than is suggested by official statistics. Out of a total working age population of 40 million, over 6.5 million are workless. This includes nearly 1.5 million part-time workers who need more hours.

A lack of basic skills and educational qualifications is a handicap to a huge number of people. In the country’s most deprived areas, over 40% of working-age people do not have a single level 2 qualification (equivalent to a GCSE grade C or above).

Furthermore, lifestyle issues make stable, structured employment difficult for many. The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that over 360,000 people claiming some kind of out-of-work benefit are serious drug addicts.

At Tree Shepherd, we believe that the solution to worklessness, and the consequent social and health issues that accumulate in many of our most deprived areas, is a patient, concerted and committed focus on creating the right environment for local communities to create jobs.

COMPLAINTS: We take our mission and work very seriously, always operating within the guidelines of: Tree Shepherd Complaints Policy. If you have any concerns or complaints, please contact us so that we can look to improve our service and rectify any issues.

Colin Crooks, Chief Executive

Colin Crooks is the Chief Executive and founder of Tree Shepherd, a social enterprise focused on promoting and supporting employment and business growth in the UK’s most marginalised communities. He is also the author of How to Make a Million Jobs – A Charter for Social Enterprise, published September 2012.

Colin has a successful track record in establishing and running social enterprises spanning over 20 years, working with large corporate and governmental clients to deliver environmental and social objectives.

In 2000 he founded Green Works, employing marginalised groups, including homeless people and ex-offenders. This was the first business to recycle office furniture on an industrial scale. He has run a number of waste and recycling businesses and has experience in training unemployed people and employing them to recycle computers, white goods, furniture, plastics and metals. In addition, he provided waste consulting to businesses through his consultancy 3Re (Rethink, Revise, Recycle).

Colin was also a local councillor with responsibility for the environment and sat on the Western Riverside Waste Authority, a statutory waste disposal authority. He is a trustee of Think Global, a council member at SEUK and he regularly delivers witness sessions for both the School for Social Entrepreneurs and for Common Purpose.

Andy Daly, Head of Delivery and Development

Andy is a former teacher and has worked in the Third Sector since 2012, when he completed the On Purpose UK leadership programme. He counts School for Social Entrepreneurs, HCT Group and The Shaftesbury Partnership among previous employers.

As Head of Delivery and Development, his role is to oversee all of Tree Shepherd’s programme activity while working to raise the organisation’s reach and social impact. Andy has a Masters in International Development from London School of Economics (LSE) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

Lydia Gardner, Lambeth Enterprise Manager

Capitalising on 10 years’ experience in developing community-based social enterprise at the world-renowned Bromley by Bow Centre, Lydia joined Tree Shepherd in September 2013. Her career involved managing the marketing and contract bidding for a hub of eight internal social enterprises in the fields of landscape design, grounds maintenance, furniture design, graphic design, regeneration consulting, and community arts for disadvantaged young people, elderly people and vulnerable adults. At its height, hub turnover was £1 million, gaining vital unrestricted funding for the parent charity.

Lydia then went on to manage and provide student mentoring for a three-year BA degree in social enterprise programme in partnership with the University of East London. This led to the up-skilling of 28 third sector employees, with some setting up their own new social enterprises.

Prior to this, Lydia spent 10 years in the production and marketing of cultural television to broadcasters worldwide.

Monique Tomlinson, Programme Administrator

Monique joined Tree Shepherd in May 2014. An experienced entrepreneur herself, having worked in fashion and dress-making, she was keen to join a team that supports local people who manage busy family lives yet want to set up in business.

Monique has a background in administration and worked as administrator on the national schools inspection process for Ofsted in 2000 – 2005. Prior to that she worked for Shell International as PA to the Finance Director.

Since 2005, she returned to study and took a fashion business and pattern-cutting degree at the London College of Fashion. She went on to work for fashion designers and has also developed her own business as a pattern cutter.

Monique knows the Lambeth community well, having grown up in Stockwell. She is a much valued member of the team who brings her inside knowledge of key issues that affect local people, which in turn helps shape us in our delivery.

Joanne Hunt, Learning Manager

Joanne has a wealth of experience in simultaneously managing a number of accredited/non-accredited community training/mentoring programmes for a variety of deprived client groups.  Subject areas have been specific alongside personal development skills, supporting client groups to identify and achieve their goals and supporting tutors to provide appropriate differentiated support using a rigorous RARPA framework, ensuring quality assurance/improvement.  Joanne has a PTLLS teaching qualification and a post-graduate level qualification in Community Learning.

Partnership Working:

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