Motorskills extends services to young people thanks to funding from UK Steel Enterprise

Motorskills Project - UKSE

Kelly at work at the Motorskills Project

A Barnsley based community project that offers educational, recreational and vocational opportunities to young people and families is extending its services thanks to a donation from UK Steel Enterprise.

Athersley Cares was set up in 1989 and its Motorskills project opened in 2000 to provide needs-led projects for people living in and around Athersley, north Barnsley. Motorskills provides a range of high quality accredited and non accredited vocational motor vehicle mechanics training sessions to adults and 13 – 19 year olds. Many of the people on its courses are NEETs – those Not in Education, Employment or Training.

The £1,470 grant is made up of £1,370.00 from the UK Steel Enterprise Charitable Fund with the rest coming from the “I Love Barnsley” fund and will be used to launch an evening drop in session for local young scooter riders. It will offer help and advice on safety, legal requirements and maintenance.

UK Steel Enterprise Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel that invests in growing businesses in South Yorkshire.  It also supports community based organizations and initiatives that make a positive difference to the economic regeneration of communities affected by changes in the steel industry. Through its fund with the South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF), UK Steel Enterprise Ltd is linked to groups and projects that are adding lasting value to local communities on a daily basis.

Keith Williams, Regional Manager of UK Steel Enterprise in Yorkshire says the funder is committed to working with community groups that bring about real change.

“The services that Athersley Cares provides reach some of the hardest to engage people in our communities. By offering them an opportunity to obtain qualifications and experience it is providing the chance for them to enter employment or full-time training/education. It is an excellent project and we are delighted to support its aims,” said Keith Williams.

The project currently has between 70 and 80 people from right across Barnsley using its services each week. One of them is Kelly Beever (19), a single mum from Athersley. Kelly discovered the project while on a training course when she was 14 and returned after leaving school. Inspired by her mechanic Grandfather, Kelly is now nearing the end of her first year of studying for an IMI Award in Car Service and Maintenance.

“At school I got in with the wrong crowd which held me back. I love this course and I’m hoping to become a fully trained mechanic in a local garage. The project has helped me in lots of other ways too; my self-confidence and self-esteem have been really lifted and I’m looking forward to hopefully working full-time,” said Kelly.

Lorraine Headen is the Project Manager at Athersley Cares and says Kelly is a shining example of how the students apply themselves. “I’m always highly impressed with what the students achieve. We have some people who attend that face challenges, however, they often rise to them and reach their goals at the project. Kelly is a total star; her attendance is fantastic and she’s a real team player. She’s well on track to achieve her qualification and I have high hopes for her. Thanks to the funding from UK Steel Enterprise we can now reach out to even more people and offer further educational opportunities”

For more information about UK Steel Enterprise Ltd please call Graham Parker at Parker PR on 07977 448 306.

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Former Miner Brimming With Green Energy For Woodfuel

Dave Sefton – Silvapower

One thing Dave Sefton has never been short of is energy!

When the 50 year old from Barnsley left school it was straight down the local pit as a “ripper”, building tunnels behind the cutting machines which eked away at the coal face.

When the industry contracted he was made redundant and found himself making charcoal at Wentworth Castle, Stainborough, before finally helping to set up a wood chip company in 2004 to fuel a green revolution in South Yorkshire.

Back then local councils and public bodies wanted to install biomass heating installations,  but were unable to get past the first base because there was no fuel supply infrastructure in place to get timber from the woods and into a suitable form for burning.

Despite this the Forestry Commission said that there was massive scope to develop the sector in South Yorkshire, with its long history of using solid fuels like coal and the amount of local woodland which could be brought into management.

So Silvapower was set up to plug the supply gap with the help of the South Yorkshire Forest Partnership, Sheffield City Council, Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Investment Fund.

Eight years later the company has gone from strength-to-strength and is chalking up new milestones.  Next year it is set to produce 35,000 cubic metres of wood chip to meet rising demand.

“I didn’t intend it that way, but my whole career has been supplying fuel of one kind or another, finally ending up with the oldest fuel of the lot, wood,” said Dave, who was a collier at Barnsley Main and Barrow coal mines.  “More local supplies are needed, but timber is coming on stream.  To produce 35,000 cubic metres of wood chips, we need 10,000 tonnes of timber, which translates into about 25,000 trees. We want to talk to local woodland owners and estates about purchasing timber – we always need more of it and want to build long term relationships. Wood is a growth industry and unlike coal we can keep on growing the stuff. It’s really exciting to be involved in something like this, which is growing fast and also does good for the world”

The Forestry Commission has revealed that 56 wood fuel installations have been installed in South Yorkshire as the move towards more eco-friendly energy generation gathers pace.

Long term oil and gas price increases and climate change mean that experts have dubbed it as one of the fuels of the future.  Such is the local potential that South Yorkshire was chosen for a 200,000 Euro investment under an EU project called Activating Forest Owners to develop the sector and create jobs.

Crispin Thorn, Forestry Commission Area Director for Yorkshire and the North East, said:

“Under-management of our woods has been recognised as a lost opportunity for woodland owners for years.  But there are encouraging signs that owners are putting their woods back to work. Some of the timber being used by Silvapower and other local wood fuel suppliers is coming from places like Greno Woods, near Sheffield, and from woods owned by the Fitzwilliam Estate, near the Strines, west of Bradfield.  Sustainable woodland management where trees are felled and replaced is good for conservation and also taps an increasingly valuable and renewable asset for South Yorkshire. It’s great to see businesses developing and expanding in order to take up this growing opportunity.”

Silvapower was taken over by Forest Fuels last year, but Dave stayed on as Yard Foreman at the main depot in Brierley, near Barnsley, where £1m has been invested in storage facilities, processing machinery and delivery equipment.  Customers include all four councils in South Yorkshire and local schools.

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Barnsley Man Logs On To A Roaring Business Idea

Robert Lodge of Firewood Logs

When Robert Lodge installed a log burning stove in his farmhouse near Tankersley, Barnsley, he could hardly imagine what would happen next.

First the local pub and then other locals asked him to help them find hard to source timber for their own new stoves and fires.

So adept did he become, that an inkling of an idea began to form to diversify his farm business. Five years later, having spent £30,000 on timber processing machinery, 90% of his time is spent on his new timber-based business, rather than in the fields of his 1,000 acre family farm.

And Robert’s order book is bulging.

With a presence on Ebay and Facebook, he’s taken to cyberspace to connect with the soaring number of customers wanting to come home to a real fire.

Robert, 48, explained:

“I never had any intentions of getting into the firewood business, but it really sort of crept up on me.  Initially I just used wood laying around farm for my own needs, but things took off from there.  The number of people installing woodfuel boilers and log fires is really amazing.  That’s partly due to the surge in energy prices making it more attractive, but there’s also a feel good factor looking at an log fire and also using a more eco-friendly fuel.”

Robert Lodge of Firewood Logs

Robert’s success is music to the ears of the Forestry Commission, which believes that woodfuel could be a major growth area for businesses and woodland owners in South Yorkshire.  Stoked by the prospects, Robert recently joined a five day fact finding mission to Austria, organised by the Forestry Commission and South Yorkshire Forest Partnership.  It was funded by a European Union scheme called Activating Forest Owners, which has invested 200,000 Euros over two years into South Yorkshire to boost the woodfuel sector by getting more woods into management.

Robert added:

“Austria is far more advanced than we are and have lots more biomass boilers, but we are moving in their direction as oil prices keep on going up.  The trip made me even more optimistic about the future.  But we need to get more local woodlands producing timber in South Yorkshire.  At the moment most of my supplies come from other parts of the country, especially the Midlands.  But there are lots of neglected woods here that should be put back to work.”

South Yorkshire has 11,465 hectares (28,662 acres) of woodland – over 9% of land area – but forest chiefs estimate that around half remains an untapped resource.  Yorkshire currently produces about 300,000 tonnes of timber each year – over a third of which comes from Forestry Commission woodlands.

Rudie Humphrey, from the Forestry Commission, said:

“Robert’s experience shows the two sides of the story.  Woodfuel is an opportunity to create profitable rural businesses and employment, but we need more raw materials coming out of local woods.  We also had woodland owners on the trip to Austria and the message is getting home.  Our local woods are a big asset for us and well managed can produce economic and conservation gains.”

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