What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
There are 3 issues this project will address:
1. There is much neglected coppice woodland in Britain which, if managed correctly could provide a valuable, continuous resource. Coppiced wood can be used for heating homes and for producing many different craft items.
2. Many heritage coppice crafts (e.g. making oak swill baskets and hazel hurdles) are in danger of disappearing unless more training is provided.
3. Unemployment among young people is at an all-time high and with rural job prospects bleak it is timely to support more young people to be entrepreneurial and to equip them with the skills to be self-employed.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
In 1905 215,000 hectares of English woodland were coppiced but from the 1960’s coppicing started to decline and only approximately 22,000 hectares now remain in coppice rotation. Professor Ted Collins (Professor Emeritus of Rural History in the Department of Agricultural and Food Economics at the University of Reading,) documents this decline in his report Crafts in the English Countryside: towards a future (published in 2004). His report highlights the lack of skilled coppice workers and the need for appropriate training for the craft sector. He calls for new initiatives and ways of delivering training and 'investment, commitment and most of all, imagination' if these heritage skills and crafts are to survive. He cites BHMAT as a leading example of a coppice apprenticeship scheme.
What is your solution?
The Bill Hogarth MBE Memorial Apprenticeship Trust (BHMAT) is a registered charity which aims to train a new generation of coppice workers. Since forming in 2000 we have trained over 16 apprentices and supported them to set up in business. We are looking to fund 2 new apprentices to start in 2014.
How will you deliver this?
Apprentices are placed with an experienced coppice worker for three years. They are given a small bursary, a tool grant, and specialist training. As well as a sponsor, they are appointed a mentor who will oversee their training and support the apprentice through the three years. At the end of the three years they are awarded the Bill Hogarth Coppice Diploma and will have become self-employed and will have their own coppicing business.