Tree Shepherd Impact Report Launch & Lambeth Forest Network Pitch Night!

socialimpact_graphic-480x248Next week Tree Shepherd will proudly launch our third Social Impact report together with the small business network we have built over the past three years – the Lambeth Forest Network. Guests will see exciting business happen ‘live’ as local retail buyers gather to watch start-ups pitch their goods and services.

The Lambeth Forest Network (LFN) is now an independent social enterprise. They are kindly backing this event to acknowledge the continued support they receive from Tree Shepherd and also to showcase their members. LFN continues to seek new business opportunities and invites the wider Lambeth business community to attend.


The venue is being provided by Batch & Co, a Streatham-based independent coffeeshop. Owner Jeanette Batchelor was a student on Tree Shepherd’s enterprise course in January 2016. It’s fantastic to see her as a Lambeth Forest network member whose business is thriving and it is very fitting to have Batch & Co as the host venue on such a great evening.

Event: Thursday 27th October

Time: 7pm – 9pm

Address: Batch & Co, 54 Streatham Hill SW2 4RD

If you are interested in attending this event as a pitcher, a buyer or simply to support local enterprise please contact or call 020 3697 1540



Tree Shepherd, Big Local South Bermondsey and Grosvenor Group to support Southwark entrepreneurs

hexagon-students-exchanging-ideasBig Local South Bermondsey and Grosvenor are proud to announce a new series of Start Your Own Enterprise courses delivered by Tree Shepherd at The Biscuit Factory, Southwark from November 2016. All courses are free of charge for Southwark residents.

Learn how to turn your passion into a real business. All ideas are welcome. If you are on benefits and have found it difficult to find a job, being self-employed could be the answer and we are here to make sure you get it right.

Tutor and CEO of Tree Shepherd Colin Crooks says, ‘Please come along to the course. Everyone is in the same boat, so don’t worry if your business is just an idea at the moment. You’ll learn everything you need to put a basic business plan in place including sales and marketing, finance, presentation skills, people management, networking and all the nuts and bolts of registering a business. We’ve had so much success across Lambeth and are excited to be launching in Bermondsey’.

On graduating, you’ll belong to a vibrant Enterprise Network and benefit from free events, business clinics, regular coaching sessions, new trade and collaborative working opportunities.

The Community Engagement Manager for Big Local South Bermondsey said ‘We have been operating in the area for 6 years now, helping people get back into work, and thanks to the support of Grosvenor are excited to be offering these courses. The training hub will work alongside our job club to support those who are seeking more traditional employment.’

The course runs from 2nd November to 25th November 2016, and will be 8 days over 4 weeks, two days a week (Wednesdays & Fridays) 10am – 4pm. New dates will also be available for the Spring term.

To find out more and register your interest, go to

The Start Your Own Enterprise programme is funded by and delivered in partnership with Grosvenor, the owner of the former biscuit factory and campus sites in Bermondsey. It is an initiative from Big Local Works, the employment and enterprise hub designed by Big Local South Bermondsey to support local people to find meaningful employment for them, whether it is through conventional employment or entrepreneurship. Partners of Big Local Works include Bede House Association, United St Saviours, Southwark Council and Grosvenor.

Book now for Brixton Christmas Markets & Small Business Saturday!

Hello Lambeth Traders

It’s that time of year for you to take up all the opportunities that the season of good will presents. small-business-saturday-uk-logo-2016-blue-hi-resTree Shepherd are taking bookings to secure you a stall at the following venues:



Come and trade on the high profile area in front of the Ritzy Cinema – Windrush Square. To make the most of this opportunity, ideally you should book all 3 dates – and if you’re going for it you should definitely be there 3rd December when Small Business Saturday is happening!

5PM-10PM ON 2ND (Christmas Lights, Singing, Brass Bands….it’s all happening!)

10AM-4PM ON 3RD & 4TH


OR ONLY £15 PER DAY IF BRING OWN GAZEBO AND TABLE (we can send you a link to a good gazebo stockist, if requested)
Different trades (gifts, fashion, arts etc) and only packaged or ‘christmas gift’ foods for the above price

Re. HOT FOOD the rate is £50 and you need to bring your own gazebo / set up


Different trades (gifts, fashion, arts etc) including hot food

Different trades (gifts, fashion, arts etc) and only packaged or ‘christmas gift’ foods (no hot food)

You will need to supply evidence of all the following on application:

– market traders public liability insurance
– if supplying food – proof of kitchen inspection, level 2 food hygiene, gas safety certificate (all details on link provided when you book)

We can help you with getting the above documentation if you are unsure.

Working in partnership with Street Concepts, Brixton BID, Lambeth Council, Station Road Market and Sunshine International Arts Cafe.

To reserve your spot TODAY, please contact Lydia Gardner and state which event you are opting for:

020 3697 1540

Free Guidance for upcoming Social Enterprises, CICs, Charities…

Social Enterprise, Community Interest Companies, Charities, Not-for-Profit

Tulse Hill LadiesIf you are a Lambeth resident with a brilliant social business in the making and need some support around strategy, structure, registration, staffing, marketing etc. please get in touch.

Our free business clinics are for social businesses in Lambeth as well as private enterprise.

To book, hit the link: FREE ADVICE CLINICS

Pictured: Ladies from Waist Knot Want Knot, supporting local community events

Tree Shepherd offers affordable shared workspace in central Brixton

st-matthews-churchTree Shepherd is delighted to offer affordable shared workspace for small businesses in the heart of Brixton.

Having provided support to hundreds of early-stage entrepreneurs over the last 3 years, we know how important it is to find affordable working premises when growing your business, and we are now able to offer small office units at our own HQ in the beautiful St Matthews Church in central Brixton. St Matthews Church is just a few minutes on foot from Brixton tube station as well as the market and all the amenities of Brixton.

If you take up this offer, you will be sharing an office with the Tree Shepherd team and other friendly local businesses. Our aim is to provide a space for collaboration and informal knowledge exchange between businesses, and the space is also suitable as a place to exhibit products, artwork and marketing literature.

The offices come with use of a meeting area with comfy chairs, a shared kitchen and toilet, a printing facility and of course free wi-fi.

To find out more, just drop us a line at or give us a call on 020 3697 1541. Or simply drop by anytime during office hours. You’ll find us on the 2nd floor at St Matthews Church, Brixton Hill, Brixton SW2 1JF. We’d love to show you around.

START OUT START UP: Free 10 months of support for people aged 18-30

start-out-start-up-picTree Shepherd is proud to announce a brand new free 10 month programme for 18 to 30 year-olds living in the South Lambeth area who are looking to start their own enterprise.

The programme involves 4 x workshop training sessions in January 2017 followed by a programme of business clinics and full support as the new businesses develop. The programme is free for people in low income households and is particularly focussed on supporting young people from estate communities who are looking for an alternative to a life of crime or unemployment.

It is supported by the Walcot Foundation and delivered in partnership with Knights Youth Centre. To register your interest, please hit the link below:



Tree Shepherd ramps up its business support workshops in Peckham

Tree Shepherd is ramping up its activity in Peckham as part of its partnership with London Borough of Southwark to provide business support to traders affected by the redevelopment of the area around Peckham Rye station.

The area around the historic station will be redeveloped, opening up a new public square and restoring the station’s original 1800s surroundings. Some businesses in the vicinity will have to relocate, either temporarily or permanently, and Southwark Council has engaged Tree Shepherd to provide independent business support to help the traders manage the transition.

According to our initial needs analysis, most of the businesses want to focus on formalising their operations, honing their customer service offering to attract and retain customers, and enhancing their marketing and social media. All of the support is free to traders affected by the redevelopment, and Tree Shepherd’s business advisors are combining tailored one-to-one business clinic sessions with group workshops.

Construction of The Palms, a new hub for hair stylists, make-up artists, manicurists and other independent traders on Bournemouth Close, will ensure many of the businesses can continue trading in the heart of Peckham. It is hoped that the hub will help cement Peckham’s reputation as a destination for Afro-Caribbean hair and beauty. Planning permission has been granted for The Palms, which is expected to be completed and open to the public in early 2017.

Colin Crooks, Tree Shepherd’s CEO, said “Our primary aim is to help the traders in and around Peckham Rye station retain the strong customer base they have already built up and grow their businesses further. In many cases we also want to help the traders to recast their business to take advantage of the new developments in London and the changes to the wider economy.”

Ms Qin He, who runs the Steamer Chinese and Japanese food bar with her husband, recently attended one of our workshops and said “It was great to hear from the Tree Shepherd advisor, who runs a business and has been there and done it. It gave me lots of ideas of how to move my own business forward.”

Published 20.09.16

Press Release: Call on Mayor of London for radical change as zero hours contracts hit 20%

Tree Shepherd * Press Release * 13 September 2016

Merton Council Leader joins social entrepreneur Colin Crooks in calling on the Mayor of London for radical change as zero hours contracts rise by 20 per cent

stephen-alambritis-colin-crooks-leonie-cooperOn 8 September 2016, the leader of Merton Council, Cllr Stephen Alambritis joined Colin Crooks from social enterprise Tree Shepherd in a lively debate about the future of employment and deprivation in London, as the Office of National Statistics announced the number of people on zero hours contracts had risen by 20 per cent.

Chaired by AM member for Merton and Wandsworth, Leonie Cooper, Cllr Alambritis responded to a provocation by CEO of Lambeth-based social enterprise Tree Shepherd Colin Crooks, in a seminar at Siemens Crystal. The event, entitled ‘Our Future London: Emerging Economies and Green Business’ is one of five debates organised by the London Sustainability Exchange, which will culminate in a report outlining key recommendations to Mayor Sadiq Khan on major changes in the capital.

colin-at-crystalCrooks, CEO of Tree Shepherd, whose 20-year career has seen him campaign for local change and is helping over 600 people to start their own business, said:

‘The statistic from ONS is saddening, but not a surprise. People in deprived communities, who are barely making ends meet, are being forced into unsuitable jobs with no job security, in a desperate attempt to keep themselves and their families afloat. It’s despicable, and time we realised that the current model of high-level regeneration and investment in an area, with the promise of a ‘trickle-down’ effect to local communities is not working.

‘Our clients have waited years for the so-called benefits of a growing economy to reach them. It’s time we started investing in them right at the source – councils should be helping businesses on their doorstep – creating trading networks, promoting local companies and cutting the red tape – like complicated housing benefit regulations, which is tripping people up as they start out.

‘The Mayor needs to look forward and think big. Why can’t there be a Greater London ‘Uber’, for example, run locally, with profits pumped into local businesses rather than being creamed off by Silicon Valley?’

Cllr Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council, agreed, ‘Growth is important. But some people benefit, and others are left behind. Within Merton alone, the life differential is 13 years. A lady in Wimbledon village lives 13 years longer than the lady in Mitcham.

[…]  The pressure on me is gentrification, I am encouraged to build apartments for young couples who work in the city, and to improve Morden’s shopping offer for them’.

‘I agree on the problems surrounding housing benefit changes. We need to convince the Mayor to start a new regime for social enterprises. He needs to engage with the government to lift burdens like business rates and get more deprived people, from deprived areas, into the world of business.’

Tree Shepherd is a social enterprise, which promotes grassroots entrepreneurship, to create local employment and tackling worklessness. Formed in 2011 by Colin Crooks, it supports local businesses through training and continuous development. Its Forest Network offers a mutually beneficial peer-to-peer network for new entrepreneurs, to enable them to develop and grow their businesses.


Notes to Editors


Press Release: Colin Crooks and Tree Shepherd win Innovation and Enterprise Award at Lambeth Community Pride Awards 2016

Colin Crooks and the Tree Shepherd team celebrated last night as they won the prestigious Innovation and Enterprise Award at the glittering Lambeth Community Pride Awards 2016, hosted at the Oval Cricket Ground.

IColin with certificaten the words of Councillor Saleha Jaffer, Mayor of Lambeth, ‘The awards recognise people who care about their local community and make a positive contribution to the lives of others. Your efforts to make this community a better place to live are equally appreciated by your fellow citizens and the council.’

The Award for Innovation and Enterprise awards an individual or group who improves the wellbeing for residents and the community in the local area in new and innovative ways.

Colin Crooks started Tree Shepherd in 2011, and has been supporting the more disadvantaged members of the Lambeth community, seeking out areas in the borough in particular need – estates such as Angell Town, Tulse Hill, Stockwell, Loughborough Junction and setting up enterprise programmes that help entire communities. He also founded the Forest Foundation to raise money for Lambeth’s low income start-ups.colin collecting award

On receiving the Award he said:
‘This is utterly fabulous, we are speechless! We have been working for three years to help people get businesses started, it’s what we do, we just get on with it.

‘To be nominated is a real honour. We recruit in housing estates and work with people’s ideas, supporting them to turn their ideas into a living. It’s quite extraordinary. I have an amazing team but we also work with incredible people. There are currently 650 residents involved, and the interest in the borough is phenomenal. We form self-helpWinners group pic groups to help people learn from each other. The key business skill is to learn to listen – we encourage our entrepreneurs to listen really hard to what customers want. What a fantastic night!’

You can listen to the full interview with Colourful Radio here

For more information, or interviews, please call Sarah Baldwin, Tree Shepherd PR Manager on 07776 211518 or email


Enterprise Mentoring: Putting the head back on the chicken

Helping entrepreneurs make independent decisions about the direction of their business is at the heart of what we do at Tree Shepherd. Whereas the success of our Friday business surgery reveals that for many, a small amount of coaching and some pointers is all that’s required – we know that for others setting up or running a business can be a real challenge. The reassurance of regularly seeing an independent mentor can prove invaluable in the early stages.

Mentee Cloudia Vardon, a designer who runs her own fashion label, sings the praises of her mentor Byron Cole “our meetings are always helpful, but what’s great is that he is always on the end of the line when I get stuck and I’ve really grown to value his opinion

We also know that it’s not just the voice of Tree Shepherd that hits home and we rely on the many and varied voices of mentors from professions across the spectrum. People with different fields of expertise help plug key knowledge gaps and the biggest gift for a new entrepreneur is somebody’s time. Focussed timeslots in which all aspects of a new business can be explored mean that the busy mentee can ‘put the head back on the chicken’ and make sure they are on track with their business plan.

In the first 6 months of this year’s programme we set up 43 mentoring introductions. Our mentoring programme attracted 27 volunteer mentors – some able to take on 2 mentees.  These were matched with 27 mentees in the fields of food and craft and a further 16 in other fields including IT, education and community support services. For the majority, the mentoring relationship continues to this day. For others, all that was needed was 1 or 2 meetings.

The businesses being mentored include yoga holidays in Croatia, smoking cessation service, a variety of catering companies from hot pepper sauce to insect snacks, dress makers and textile designers. What most of them have in common is that they started on the Tree Shepherd ‘start your own enterprise’ course, claiming benefits but determined to lead independent self-made lives. It’s an exciting journey and the mentors gain enormously from being a part of it.

In the next year, we will be welcoming on board up to 200 new entrepreneurs. We will be running a series of mentor induction sessions and the commitment after that for the mentor is a meeting once a month face-to-face plus a little admin. Mentors don’t have to be business people. Experience of   management in any sector can be just as valuable to a start-up business.

All mentors automatically join the Lambeth Forest Enterprise Network and can be part of a host of other activities organised by Tree Shepherd, such as networking events and masterclasses.

Mentor John Garbett after his first meeting with Andy Kelliott (flavoured ice entrepreneur): “I think there is lots to investigate but also this is a good opportunity. I want him to succeed”.

Would you or do you know somebody who would like to volunteer to be an enterprise mentor?

Contact Lydia Gardner, Manager of Communications and Partnerships on 020 3697 1540 or


The Tree Shepherd mentoring programme is supported by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. It is delivered in partnership with Lambeth, Brixton BID, Waterloo Quarter, Vauxhall One, Morley College, Lambeth Food Partnership and Makerhood.