Trudy Thompson is a social entrepreneur with practical experience of eco building, living a self reliant lifestyle & running sustainable businesses. Her aim is to inspire people to embrace change to make a difference now, to their life and others too.
With the3rdimagazine focussing on sustainability this month, Trudy is the perfect person to profile in the Influential Women session. I spoke with Trudy and if you think sustainability is the province of those on the margings of society, think again.
“For the last 10 years I have been running a construction business building eco-homes. Everything from buying the materials to developing the plans, working with planning departments, plus training, is done sustainably. I now share my knowledge by creating sustainable enterprises to benefit society and the planet. I also give talks from my real experiences, organise events and work with investors to incubate other businesses.”
“The main focus of my work is Bricks and Bread, a social enterprise that operates premises as hubs for sustainable business. The company was created to solve the issues I’d had to overcome when building eco homes and adapting my own life to become more sustainable and self sufficient. In 2009 I opened the first Centre in Aldershot to provide facilities where local experts could share their knowledge and make it easier for other people to live, work and build sustainably. Over the last three years the business has grown into a vibrant hub of more than 60,000 individuals who all benefit from sharing knowledge and resources.”
“4,000 of the hub members are experts and enterprises who have been verified and trusted by us. Bricks and Bread collaborates with these verified hub members to provide products and services to our customers. Last year Bricks and Bread created a social franchise model to replicate our systems and know-how.”
“There are now over 300 franchisees using our innovative methods. Franchisees are operating replicated versions or parts of our business operations at the centre in Aldershot, it is a more formal way of collaborating with us than being a hub member, as franchisees sign a license agreement for 5-10 years which gives them access to our systems, central marketing, sales and professional services. The franchise includes attending the Change to Save training programme of advice and on going mentoring to help them create their own Sustainable Living Centre business.”
“The Change to Save training programme has been set up to provide motivation and encouragement to individuals, to change their career, start up a new business or take an established venture forward. Change to Save provides inspiring and effective advice, training and mentoring to build personal skills. I use the techniques for growth and development which I use to run Bricks and Bread.”
“Bricks and Bread Sustainable Living Centre is a social enterprise, we are completely independent and do not rely on grants to deliver our social benefits. By providing services that are uniquely valuable to users of the hub we generate our own income which is used to further develop the centre. Our purpose is to make it easier for people to live, work and build sustainably and by working together this can happen quickly for the benefit of society and the planet. We earn money from a wide range of services which includes venue hire, events management, consultancy, reusing waste activities and incubating start up enterprises.”
“We also run sustainable innovation and social entrepreneurship activities with young people, working with schools, universities and business schools. These activities are creative, fun and engaging, they are designed to empower young people and gain from their fresh ideas. Also at the Aldershot Centre we provide two week work experience opportunities mostly in our waste reuse business to teenagers, especially those with learning difficulties or complex disabilities.”
This year Bricks and Bread (Investment) Ltd is being launched by Trudy to provide a £100m fund to invest in eco building, sustainable innovation and social enterprise ventures to finance land and property, to support our social franchise network, those enterprises incubated beyond start-up at Bricks and Bread or collaborative projects between expert hub members. For more information, visit www.bricksandbread.com