By Mike Freely

After Octink marked Responsible Business Week in April we decided to follow up this month by telling you more about the local programmes we work with that give young people the opportunity to gain work experience and employability skills. Following on from Will’s blog about Spark! two weeks ago, I’d like to talk about Cultivate London, a West London social enterprise where I am a director.

Cultivate London is an innovative urban farm and social enterprise based across multiple derelict sites in West London. The organisation exists to support young people – aged from 16 to 24 – in gaining skills, work experience and ongoing employment by generating training opportunities and jobs in practical horticulture.

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The main way in which we support Cultivate London is through supporting their marketing activities, which we do financially, through help with planning and offering advice, and by supplying volunteer labour. For example, we recently donated over £1,000 worth of display graphics to help them brand their sites and van.

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We support Cultivate London in a number of other ways too, including providing temp-to-perm job opportunities for young people who have come through their training programme. These opportunities help them to develop new skills and improve their employability. In the last two years, three people who have come to Octink after completing their Cultivate London traineeships have gone on to take up permanent roles with us, which is obviously great for us and for them!

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A few weeks ago I was once again reminded of how inspiring the organisation is when I visited a new site that they’re setting up on a housing estate in South Acton. Previously just neglected wasteland surrounded on all sides by high-rise buildings, the square is now a hive of activity as apprentices and volunteers work to bring it to life with a huge array of flowers, herbs and vegetables all growing right there.

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To find out more about Cultivate London and the excellent work it does in West London, please visit http://cultivatelondon.org/.