‘The Forest Bee’ is a free brochure, complemented by this website, created to help share information about the numerous and wonderful courses, workshops, groups, activities and one-to-one learning opportunities available to us here in the Forest of Dean. The project is run by volunteers, and is a not-for-profit organisation.
It was started in the Spring of 2014, with this website going ‘live’ at the start of Auguest, and our first issue of 1,500 copies of our Autumn 2014 edition coming out at the start of September. It proved so popular, we jumped to 2,500 for our Spring 2015 edition. With the help of a Community Grant from Forest of Dean District Council, we doubled production to 5,000 for our Autumn 2015 issue. We were also fortunate enough to receive grants from several Town and Parish Councils to finance a marketing campaign to help spread awareness about the project, which resulted in us becoming self-financing at this level of production by our Summer 2016 issue.
The brochure comes out 3 times a year a week or two before the start of each school term. We hope to extend to a special summer edition covering July and August at some point in the future.
Our brochure is available through local shops, cafes, pubs, leisure centres, libraries, doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries, Tourist Information Offices, cycle centres and tourism centres across the Forest of Dean, and from shops, libraries and Tourist Information Points in Ross-on-Wye, Chepstow and Monmouth.
We also now, by request, provide brochures to several local care agencies, Village Agents, the local hospice and a variety of organisations supporting health and wellbeing in the area.
We are financed predominantly by our advertisers: local businesses and Adult Education providers. We also offer some free editorial space to voluntary and support organisations to help spread the word about what is available in the local area.
Lastly, to encourage everyone to get out into our wonderful landscape, we include ‘Foraging News’, created by local herbalists and foragers, changing the author annually to get different perspectives on what is out there.
Vision Statement March 2014
Through the promotion of courses, groups, activities, learning and other community activities, support the development of greater social cohesion and self-reliance across all communities within the Forest of Dean.
Mission Statement April 2014
The Forest of Dean is a rural area with many small communities and 3 larger towns covering an area of some 120 square kilometres.
There are many talented and interesting groups, small businesses and individuals living in the area who offer a wide range of both formal and informal learning opportunities. Due to poor local knowledge and the challenge of getting the right information to the right people, many people travel out of the area to learn what may be available to them here on their doorstep. Very often people are not even aware of the many activities happening in their own village halls.
Our aim is to produce a printed brochure three or four times a year, in line with educational terms, listing the diverse range of activities available locally, including courses, workshops, groups and one-to-one learning opportunities. We also aim to support local entrepreneurs through very affordable advertising rates. We do not include national or international companies. The brochure will be free on the point of delivery, and will be complemented with a website, which will enable us to add other courses during the space between brochure publications.
In the long term we expect growth potential in both the website and brochure to include other small local businesses in the area such as venue providers, complementary therapists, bakers, independent cafes etc, thus increasing social cohesion and self-reliance for our Forest community.
Also in the long term we would like to establish some form of Community College or Collegiate, through which funding streams can be accessed in order to subsidise learning for those on low incomes, as well as supporting tutors with resources and equipment loans.