A social enterprise working in and for your community
Oxford Wood Recycling was formed in June 2005 by Richard Snow, Nick Dowling and Helen Porter. They came together on a post graduate Forestry degree at Oxford University. Realising there was a wasteful attitude towards wood products in the UK, they collectively wanted to help address the issue.
Building on Richard’s social enterprise business management experience there was also an opportunity to enable people facing severe disadvantages to get back into mainstream employment. Using these two issues as pillars of an organisation Oxford Wood Recycling was created.
Oxford Wood Recycling was based for the first 9 years in Milton Park, Didcot. It out grew that space and then relocated to Abingdon, just off the Drayton Road in 2015.
Now as an award winning Social Enterprise, the organisation believes that working with wood and timber offers many opportunities to gain skills and expertise – whether in making wood products, or in processing wood and timber – and believes it’s generally very therapeutic!
With more exacting regulatory requirements of the construction industry on waste management and the in-vogue home furnishing fashions of modern rustic and the Scandinavian look the market has caught up with the original idea.
From humble beginnings, the organisation now operates both a private and commercial waste wood collection service. The majority of wood is sent to power stations and the rest of sufficient quality is reused. Volunteers help to clean up the recovered wood and return it for public use from its 5,000 sqft warehouse in Abingdon.
As well as the collection, warehousing and delivery teams, the organisation also offers beneficiary placements in business administration, sales and marketing roles. OWR now partners with other social enterprises, organisations and enabling charities in Oxfordshire who share its aims.
All of Oxford Wood Recycling’s surpluses are re-invested back into the organisation. The organisation has grown significantly since 2005 and has employed over 55 people and worked with almost 200 volunteers.
“Having been introduced to OWR through Oxfordshire Mental Health Services, OWR gave me a supportive, structured and positive work environment. OWR brought out the best in me by using and nurturing my skills. OWR enabled me to enter back into full time employment full of confidence again” – Paul from Oxfordshire 2016
The collections team make over 150 collections per month and work with some of the biggest construction companies in the UK and smaller infrequent clients. These teams are the organisation’s best marketing and loyalty ambassadors.
In our retail store the friendly and knowledgeable staff help and advise our customers to make the best choice of recycled timber for their projects. The loyal growing team of volunteers maintain the vital free flow of stock around the warehouse.
We are proud to be part of an exciting and growing social enterprise network in Oxfordshire. The trustees, staff and volunteers are committed to growing a successful organisation that is socially inclusive and focused on supporting those in need. The wood recycling business needs to remain economically sustainable and further the reduction, reuse and recycling of wood waste across the region.
Since moving from Milton Park to Abingdon, OWR has made additions to the organisation with the incorporation of a furniture showroom and joinery shop. Manufacturing, and adding value to reclaimed wood by re-sizing and finishing creates many more opportunities to explore partnerships with other social enterprises and charities like RESTORE to support people in need through training, employment and work experience.
The showroom creates a vision of how reclaimed wood can enhance modern life styles, and encourages people to ‘get excited and make things’
“The future is unwritten”… Joe Strummer
At OWR we too believe that the future is indeed there to be written and that anything is possible with determination and people-power. The future could be a lot of fun. Let’s build it out of wood!
Oxford Wood Recycling’s Trustees are:
Richard Snow (CEO).
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