A community garden in the middle of the Meadow Well estate in North Tyneside is playing host to a unique new business – as Pure Buzzin brings bee-keeping to locals to help combat social isolation, improve confidence and build new skills.

Pure Buzzin’ was launched by Stephen Douglas (32) as a community interest company in 2021 based in the heart of the Meadow Well.  Stephen and volunteers have built ten beehives, located in the Meadow Well community garden, offering 5 acres of hidden green space at the very heart of the housing estate.

The Meadow Well bees have become a focal point for volunteers and individuals hoping to re-engage with nature in the peaceful surroundings of the community garden.  The hives of over 50,000 honey bees form the basis of a community-centred programme which teaches a wide range of skills to local people, including carpentry and bee-keeping skills.  In turn, the bees are bringing a buzz to the local community as Stephen works to end social isolation and bring people back together post-lockdown.

Stephen Douglas, founder of Pure Buzzin comments: “I’ve always worked in the volunteer sector trying to find ways to boost interaction in the community to combat loneliness and where possible, help provide ways to improve the skills and prospects of individuals.  Throughout the Covid-lockdowns, it quickly became clear to me how socially isolated many people were becoming from everyday interactions and Pure Buzzin was actually launched initially in response to this.

“I’d been volunteering in the Meadow Well Connected community garden for quite some time, helping to plant vegetables and look after the orchard and sensory area. Given my fascination with bees, I just asked if I could perhaps build a beehive in the garden.  One hive turned into two and before I knew it, I had crowd sourced the funding to launch a bee-keeping business and had local volunteers wanting to help.”

With help from the North Tyneside Business Factory, the enterprise programme from North Tyneside Council which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, Stephen has been able to access a range of advice and hands-on support to help realise Pure Buzzin’s grand ambitions for the future of the community interest business.

Stephen continues: “Thanks to the help from the Business Factory I’ve been able to work with a business advisor to structure the business in a way that focuses on providing a platform for the local community to interact with one another and learn new skills.  We have people of all ages coming down to look after the hives and Pure Buzzin now has its own group of regular volunteers who are fully invested in making a success of our hives.

“We work together to build, create, repair and look after the honey bees we have here on site – creating our own range of honey-based candles and products to sell on to raise funds.  We also run bee-keeping experience events regularly during the Spring and Summer season to give people an insight into bee-keeping and show anyone – old or young – what it means to look after bees in a community setting.

“As we’re a community interest company, we also run a schools awareness programme.  I work with local schools in North Tyneside to hold informative and educational drop-in sessions.  I showcase the positive benefits of bees and pollinators on the local environment and bring along sealed observation hives for students to examine.  It’s so important to me to use the honey bees as a platform to really discuss the positive environmental impact of pollinators like bees and how we must protect them at all costs.”

Stephen hopes to expand his beehives into new community areas but for now, the Meadow Well bees are waking up, ready for a new season.  The community garden is situated right next to Meadow Well metro station – a haven for honey bees in a busy urban location.

Stephen received help and guidance from the North Tyneside Business factory, supported by the European Regional Development Fund to assist in start-up journey.  Delivered by TEDCO Business Support in the Borough, the Business Factory and its team of experienced advisors bring one-to-one support in the form of business planning and financial guidance to guide start-ups to a successful launch.

For more information on the services available through the North Tyneside Business Factory, please contact (0191) 605 3110 or visit www.businessfactorynt.co.uk

What we offer

TEDCO offers one-on-one support provided by a dedicated team of business advisors and a range of pre start seminars available to clients who are taking the first steps into self-employment. This could be looking at an initial idea and developing it further, looking at how to start a business plan, business competitors, business marketing.

Are you eligible?

If you are looking to start and grow a business we’d love to hear from you. Our friendly team of experienced Business Advisors are on hand to take your call to discuss the support available.

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