Win-win for community as Our Community Project and Green Connect commence de-merge

L to R: Emmanuel Bakenga, Jess Moore, Ann Martin, John Weate, Jenny Briscoe-Hough and Mel Ridgeway.

Our Community Project (OCP) is an incorporated charitable institution which uses social enterprise to empower, build access, equity, social action and community. OCP is based in Port Kembla.

OCP are a family of community projects and social enterprises that has been operating in the Illawarra for over 14 years which encompass:

· Tender Funerals — a social enterprise providing beautiful, affordable funerals

· Green Connect — a social enterprise recovering waste, growing fair food, and employing former refugees and young people

· Port Locals — facilitating the operation of the Port Kembla Community Centre, Portcall, and a range of community groups including: King George Bush care, sewing for zero waste, bread making and Port Kembla Men’s Group

· Jam and Bread — musicians from different cultural traditions are invited to share their music for all to Jam along with. Bread from diverse countries is baked on site and shared

· Southern NILS — No Interest Loan Scheme

· Culture bank –a community based funding model and grant administering program.

Within OCP, Green Connect is a project the Illawarra community would be well familiar with. Green Connect has grown into a significant social enterprise, achieving milestones in 2017 which include:

· Keeping almost 2,000 tonnes of waste out of landfill

· Growing and distributing almost 14,000 kilograms of fair food

· Employing 131 people, including 114 former refugees and young people

· Facilitating almost 1,500 community volunteer visits

The OCP Board has identified that to create more permanent jobs, Green Connect needs to grow even further. This can best be achieved as part of an organisation working within the industries it operates. OCP is happy to announce that Green Connect and the Urban Grown Farm will be transferred to Community Resources, a like-minded organisation with a 30-year track record operating social enterprises in waste management and environmental repair.

Community Resources staff have a long-standing relationship with Green Connect, ensuring a smooth transition and commitment to the ongoing success of the enterprise, staff and local community. The OCP Board also recognises that this will create more space for OCP to continue to do what it does best. Work with and within community to help initiate innovative and creative projects which meet identified needs.

Community Resources has considerably expanded their infrastructure and systems in recent years through supporting the growth of local social enterprise Soft Landing mattress recycling and Resource Recovery Australia. OCP General Manager Jenny Briscoe-Hough is excited about this next stage of growth for the social enterprise OCP helped foster.

“OCP is confident that Community Resources bring the capacity to invest in Green Connect and Urban Grown Farm to ensure they are sustainable into the future. We are also confident that both Green Connect and the Urban Grown Farm will retain their focus on providing opportunities for training, employment and community volunteering and engagement in the Illawarra,” said Jenny Briscoe -Hough.
Corinne Stephenson, Community Resources General Manager, feels equally confident, noting “Green Connect and the Urban Grown Farm are both treasured by the Illawarra community. The Community Resources team look forward to enabling their work to continue to grow, and to our ongoing relationship with OCP and the great work they continue to do”.

We anticipate the demerger and transfer will be completed by February 2018.