Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Lincs adult learning facility to have bright future thanks to £35k grant

Thistles Market Garden Ltd, a day service for adults with learning disabilities, will save over £3,000 on its energy bills annually thanks to the support of specialist renewable energy consultants Greenio.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels installed on the roof of Thistles Market Garden’s new building in Boston, alongside an air source heat pump and LED lighting, have all future-proofed the community benefit society, keeping energy bills down and helping the not-for-profit organisation reinvest funds back into its training and facilities. 

The unique facility provides training for adults with a learning disability, helping them learn vital life skills through the use of its garden and orchard. The team at Thistles support adults to grow and sell produce to the local community helping them learning monetary skills, speaking to customers and honing their social skills. Alongside this, Thistles teaches horticultural and land-based skills.

Anna Wooster, managing director of Greenio, which was set up in 2013 and is based in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, said:

“When I met with Liz and the team at Thistles I was blown away by their amazing work and passion for helping the adults they work with. Thistles is an amazing facility as it provides people with the chance to learn independent skills and gives them the chance to socialise, get out the house and spend time in nature with a group of lovely people.

“It was really humbling and a truly heart-warming experience to visit Thistles, everyone was so kind and impassioned by the facility, it was contagious. When I found out that Liz was struggling to finish off the new build, I knew I had to help secure funding for renewable energy that would save them money and allow them to be warm this winter. We predict we will save Thistles over £59,000 over the next 20 years in energy bills – which is amazing!”

The installation was funded by the British Airways and Pure Leapfrog Carbon Fund grant, which allows the airline’s customers to choose whether to donate in support of low carbon, energy efficiency or renewable energy projects in the UK or in Africa to foster cleaner, greener and stronger communities.

Liz Judge at Thistles said:

“I cannot express how grateful we are to the team at Greenio, who’ve transformed our building into a warm place to be all-year-round! Many of the adults who come to Thistles have a variety of medical conditions alongside their learning disabilities, such as Raynaud’s disease, which means they get very cold extremities.

“The building has proper heating thanks to our new air source heat pump meaning everyone can keep coming, even in the worst weather, without impacting their health. It will also give them a space to learn indoors when they become too cold to take part in activities outside in the garden.

“We have been offering therapeutic horticulture since we first opened our doors with a focus on the ‘seed to sale’ journey, whereby we educated people on everything from growing produce to selling it. However, now we have a proper warm and functional kitchen we will be able to progress this even further – taking the journey from ‘seed to plate’, teaching the adults we work with to cook fresh, tasty meals.

“We already have plans to work with Greenio to offer lessons on renewable energy and climate change, which everyone seemed very interested in when discussed. The savings that we will make on our energy bills will all go straight back into the organisation, enhancing the learning environment for everyone who uses Thistles. It will enable us to offer more activities and a better environment for learning all year round. It will make a huge difference to us and the people who come here.”

The grant was completely free for Thistles, which will not have to pay anything back and will start seeing the benefits instantly as a result of reduced energy bills and feed-in tariff earnings – a government scheme which allows you to claim money back for every KWH generated from the system.

To learn more about this project, or to find out how you can improve your carbon footprint and save money, contact Greenio on 0800 810 0565. Further information can be found at www.greenio.co.uk


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