New Website goes live

Please note: since the end of 2007, this Blog has been a legacy site. The project now has its own dedicate website which can be found at www.theableproject.org.uk.

The information on this legacy site still remains a valuable archive, topical and relevant to the ten year story of ABLE's development, but not all of the links may be current and up to date.

At the time of writing (April 2008) we have now exceeded the new milestone of 3,000 attendances at the project and won a prestigious Award from the UK Public Health Association.


ABLE, the next step ...

<click thumbnail to enlarge>
<click here for latest slideshow>

Following a period of our own learning, we are now ready for the next stage of development in which training undertaken on the site will be registered to accredited standards.

This training consists of horticulture, aquaculture, construction, and bee keeping, as well as work and life skills. We are in the process of recruiting a highly self motivated individual to undertake this task, then deliver and expand the training, and thrive on the challenge this new phase offers.

This Outdoor Learning Coordinator is generously funded for two years by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, an independent grant making body, which funds organisations whose charitable activities help people to realise their potential and have a better quality of life.

At this exciting time, we have also now exceeded the milestone of 2,000 attendances at the project and in October 2007 we were delighted to host a senior delegation from the new Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) Young People Directorate.


Find out more

Click here! for a slideshow of the award-winning ABLE Project.
To contact us telephone 08456 444 880.

Supported by:
[Last updated July 2007]

ABLE2 (Kirklees)

A 16 acre former rail sidings on Walkley Lane, Heckmondwike could become the home to a second project to farm fish for food in an environmentally sound way.

The ABLE2 project is being planned by the Green Business Network (GBN) which has already established The ABLE Project (Wakefield). It will provide social education for Kirklees young people and could also host a visitor attraction linked to the Spen Valley Greenway.

Kirklees Cabinet approved in principal the plan at its meeting on Wednesday May 16. Cabinet member for the Environment, Cllr Martyn Bolt, said:
“This could bring to Kirklees and Heckmondwike a flagship environmental project and located next to the greenway network it will substantially underline our commitment to environmental issues".

"The council confirms its green credentials and intends to be a beacon council working with the Green Business Network to replicate the award-winning work that it has done in Wakefield and elsewhere on recycling and producing food through renewable resources."

Cllr Jim Dodds, Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Service, said:
"I have seen the good work that the ABLE Project is already carrying out which not only encompasses the council's green agenda but gives youngsters who have not had the best start in life the opportunity to work on projects that prepare them for future employment and encourages them to become valued members of society. We should support the expansion of the project wholeheartedly."

[Summary Report]

Probation Service Press Releases

The ABLE Project has been showcased at a ministerial seminar - the London launch of Planet Payback (26th June) - and hosted a visit by the Minister of State at the new Ministry of Justice (30th May).

More on Planet Payback can be found at GNN, Edie.net, or Metro

Environment Agency Press Release

Children get hooked on fishing in Wakefield and see how fish are reared in an innovative, sustainable way at an inland fish farm.

18 May 2007

More coverage here with photos.

The Low Carbon Kid

Its wonderful to see other members of the blogging community lauding our scheme. Some of these are people with staunch ethical principles who think long and hard about climate change and sustainability. Its great to receive their recognition!

the type of project that warms the carbon-free cockles of the Low Carbon Kid's heart

I love this story (the Zero Champion)


Environmental Revolution!

The last full week of 2006-2007 was yet another successful week. ABLE was featured every day this week as a mini series on BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Show. Episode One showcased the fish farming side, Episode Two "the unique green heating system" and Episode Three revealed that "the workforce is pretty startling too". The final episode considered (in the words of the Presenter) "the future of this pioneering project and its constant battle for funding. Unbelievably the ABLE Project has yet to attract Lottery money."

In the BBC Presenter's own words
"the environmental revolution taking place in part of Wakefield" has been "an absolute revelation to me".

Thank you to Radio Leeds for revealing
"one of West Yorkshire's best kept environmental secrets!"

Not content with such extensive radio coverage, ABLE also worked with The Probation Service to spend all weekend planting 1,500 willow cuttings - our first area of willow coppice (photos below)!

[tip: click any picture to enlarge]


ABLE in Parliament

House of Commons
Wednesday 7 March 2007

Questions on Social Enterprise

Mary Creagh MP: The ABLE Partnership in my constituency is funded by the Green Business Network and Wakefield Primary Care Trust. The partnership is transforming [34] acres of brownfield site donated by Yorkshire Water into a hazel coppice and a fish farm which, in three years’ time, will produce Wakefield’s first caviar. Will the Minister join me on a visit to the environmentally sustainable transformation achieved by that social partnership, which demonstrates how Wakefield is leading the way in social enterprise?

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): I look forward to joining my hon. Friend in tasting Wakefield caviar; I am sure that it will be a great experience.

[the speech was picked up by BBC Radio Leeds with Mary Creagh interviewed live the same afternoon about "the new champagne lifestyle in Wakefield"]
[link to Hansard]
[link to 'They Work For You']


Prestigious Awards

In 2006 GBN's ABLE Project won the inaugural Chartered Institution of Wastes Management Innovative Practice in Wastes Management and Resource Recovery Award from "a phenomenal number of very high quality entries". The Assessors felt that (ABLE) captured the spirit of the award, and was worthy of success. This was followed with another major success as winner of a Marks & Spencer Sieff Award "a wonderful recognition of your inspirational commitment, drive and enthusiasm and the real difference that your projects have made in the region", see Business in the Community Awards for Excellence


The Monty Project

In Autumn 2006, we were proactive in making early contact with The Monty Project. Keen to add value, make synergies and share experiences based on our ten years 'hands on' involvement in the field, our expression of interest has come to nothing. Meanwhile we continue to receive national recognition alongside good local publicity for our "very fishy business".


ABLE ... 2006


1998 ... in the beginning

It's all about good business sense

The scheme in RAY's portfolio that tops the list for innovation ... "Green Futures" July/August 2006 (pp36-37).

[The ABLE Project is supported by RAY - see sidebar]


Newsletter of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (the Standard Setting body for specialists in Public Health). March 2006 Edition focusing on environmental sustainability.


Lancashire CRN visit report (November 2005) "a truly impressive and inspiring operation"

The Prince's Seeing is Believing visit

November 2005 saw 12 senior business leaders from the Yorkshire and Humber region attend one of Business in the Community’s HRH "Seeing is Believing" visits. The group was led by Graham Dixon, Director of Waste Water Business Unit, Yorkshire Water and Chair of the Y&H Environment Leaders Group. The Seeing is Believing delegates swapped their laptops for wellies to improve environmental awareness and see how GBN projects are benefiting the unemployed and the disadvantaged ... the visit aimed to boost awareness among the group of how local environmental initiatives can make a real impact – both socially and environmentally. The group’s first stop was the ABLE Project. Feedback from the event has been excellent.



BBC Radio 4 calls GBN "an extraordinary example of sustainable development in practice". The GBN has also featured before on Changing Places.



BCE Premier Award - a hallmark of success. Once again the lateral thinking of the Green Business Network ...


Home Office case study. Cardboard to caviar!


National Consumer Council Sustainable Consumption Roundtable (pdf). A mission oriented social enterprise with multiple objectives ... this cycle of sustainability is wonderful ... (p15)


One of the most innovative schemes to scoop National Grid Community 21 Award (pdf) ... is breaking new ground in sustainability. "Cardboard to Caviar" (pp12-13).


Caviar capital of Britain (Independent Online). Wakefield to farm fine delicacy.


ABLE visited by Treasury Minister. Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Healey, sees novel approaches to waste management in practice on the ground in Kirklees.


A better way; try it. A new paradigm for business (pdf). RSA Event at which Grimshaw Architects (The EDEN Project) cite The ABLE Project as the inspiration behind "Kew in the North".



University of Leeds case study and worksheet (doc). Looks at issues of intrapreneurship and highlights the importance of networking. It is based on projects developed by the GBN, especially ABLE.


Our key sponsors

ABLE is a unique fish farm social enterprise (supported by The Coalfields Regeneration Trust), co-located with a modern, meaningful and multifunctional greenspace (funded by Biffaward). With the assistance of Recycling Action Yorkshire, the GBN has proposed a follow-on replication scheme ("CLONES"), using ABLE as the hub.

Biffaward is a multi-million pound environment fund managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT), which utilises landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

Recycling Action Yorkshire is a not-for-profit programme funded by the Regional Development Agency, Yorkshire Forward.



Type the exact phrase wakefield+ABLE+caviar into Google and you'll find lots of references to us. For example, from:

The Gippsland Region (40,000 square kilometres of south-eastern Australia)

The School for Social Entrepreneurs (the leading organisation in the UK providing support and learning programmes to individual social entrepreneurs (and their organisations).

Photos of ABLE2.

Photos of ABLE2 (Carillion).

Photos of ABLE (DSCF).

Photos of Fly Flatts Delph Quarry (Pitstop).

[**GBN staff only**]