As part of its ‘COVID-19 Recovery Plan,’ Warwickshire County Council has created a £140m fund – the Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund (WRIF) – to support businesses in their recovery and growth.
One company set to benefit is Forge Care, a local specialist children’s care provider, whose flagship facility ‘The Forge’, will receive a £1m loan from the ‘Business Investment Growth’ (BIG) branch of the wider WRIF.
To learn more about how Forge Care and its residents will benefit from this loan, Cllr Martin Watson, WCC Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, met two of the firm’s directors and co-founders, Dave Hughes and Jean Miller, to gain a detailed insight into the company, how it secured the funding and what it intends to do with this financial boost.
Forge Care was founded in 2020 with a mission statement of improving the lives of looked after children and their families in locations all over the UK. Run by a Warwickshire family, the company chose a local site for its first venture – The Forge.
The Forge has space to give support to up to 24 children in what it calls a ‘Therapeutic Community.’ This has been designed to meet the complex needs of children in need of healing from trauma, for example offering ‘Creative-Expressive Therapies’.
Dave Hughes says:
“With the interior we want to replicate the layout and style of a traditional family home – which is essential for ensuring we have an inviting space that caters to different members’ needs. At the same time, the exteriors have large play areas as well as sensory and nature spaces which are to encourage the residents to get involved with growing plants and making the most of the natural world.”
Jean Miller adds:
“None of this would be possible without the support of the WRIF, or Warwickshire County Council. This loan will now mean we can get to work improving the lives of looked after children, not just in Warwickshire but further afield.”
“From start to finish the WRIF application – and indeed the approval process – has been seamless. We had concerns we would face disruption or delays, but this wasn’t the case. The Business Investment Growth team, provided advice, support and guidance each step of the way. Our loan was agreed and processed quickly by Warwickshire County Council and their support has been an invaluable asset throughout this project. The team are very interactive and able provide sound advice and discuss finance options.”
Cllr Martin Watson, WCC Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place said:
“On top of the fantastic news that the WRIF will be utilised by Forge Care to ultimately help many vulnerable children in our area, is the fact that additional businesses supported by these loans, will bring both further employment and more income to the local economy.
“With this investment, over the next five years we could see upwards of 3,000 new jobs being created and the safeguarding of thousands of existing roles. It truly is an exciting time and I would encourage businesses looking to bounce back or grow following the pandemic to consider this opportunity.”
For further information on the WRIF and what support it can offer, local businesses can visit the Warwickshire County Council website.