In the summer of 2017, I felt a calling to go out and serve the homeless. Reluctant to leave my 9-5 job I quashed the idea and continued commuting into London each day, but after a few months, some awful commutes, and a Church sermon on Jonah running away from God's calling for him, I took the plunge and left my job.
Not knowing where to start, I signed up to a weekend at Cambridge University for social entrepreneurs, to learn the basics of social entrepreneurship and key business skills. There I met with 40+ others who were starting out on their journey with a huge variety of ideas. Those most inspiring to me were those tackling environmental issues - their cause was so clear and their motives so inspiring that I felt this was something I needed to consider in my quest to serve those facing homelessness.
Coming away from the weekend, I was inspired, but still knew nothing about homelessness, so volunteered at the local night shelter run by Wycombe Homeless Connection. When the opportunity arose to volunteer in the office too, I snapped it up and over 6 months I absorbed as much information and experience as I possibly could.
This all came to an abrupt end in the summer of 2018 when my mental health took a massive dip (thanks stress!!) but after a long break and a few mountain hikes, I was ready to start working out what it was I needed to do!
I spent the next 6 months looking into the current climate crisis and getting a better understanding of the problems and root causes of global warming, biodiversity loss, pollution and extreme weather events.
After volumes of research into homelessness and its causes and remedies and tonnes of reading about the environment and climate crisis, I came to this:
I want to be able to provide accommodation, support, education,
training and work opportunities for the homeless,
to enable them to re-build their lives.
I want to make sustainable and earth-friendly living
accessible, affordable and achievable for everyone in our community.
I want this organisation to have a positive environmental impact
in as many ways as possible.
The dream was formed: a large area of land to encompass accommodation, support services, workshops, retail premises, a small holding and bee sanctuary. The buildings to be off-grid and made of sustainable materials yet comfortable and stylish. In-house medical, mental health, financial and practical support for the residents. Education, training opportunities and micro-businesses with environmental principles at heart where the residents can gain employment. All in all, a cocoon of support to enable residents to rebuild their lives set within a natural and sustainable environment.
It is a huge, ambitious dream, and it still is the goal, but I'm starting here, with Seed1, the first micro-business and the start of an exciting journey. Seed1 is Marlow's first zero-waste shop. It is also a registered Community Interest Company and all profits will go towards providing accommodation and support for the homeless in this area.
I have just opened a pop-up shop on Marlow High Street to sell reusable and sustainable products and am bringing in refills in the coming weeks too. As soon as financially possible, I will start to employ individuals currently facing homelessness and provide them with accommodation and support.
For now though, this is where we are at - a small zero waste shop, trying to make zero waste accessible for everyone, and hoping to make a big difference in the community of Marlow.
Thanks for being here,
Founder & Director at Seed1 CIC