From a local climate project to a growing online community, Green Squirrel is championing a greener future for Wales.
Launched in 2012 prior to becoming a Community Interest Company (CIC) a part-funded social enterprise three years later, Green Squirrel has helped people engage with climate projects for a decade.
From businesses and organisations to individuals and schools, Green Squirrel provides a range of sustainability support including workshops, creative events, training, and the creation of tailored resources.
Founded by eco enthusiast Rebecca Clark, all aspects of the community driven company fall to the hands of this three-person team, which also comprises co-manager and environmental educator, Hannah Garcia, and community coordinator, Julia Forrester.
With the pandemic came a sink or swim situation for Green Squirrel. With 100 per cent of its services running offline the duo embraced a proactive approach to change, shifting to a fully online offering during lockdown.
Enlisting the help of Superfast Business Wales, Green Squirrel went about improving its online presence through a new website, a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy and refreshed social media content.
Hannah said: “The help we received from Superfast Business Wales was valuable and thorough, and we’ve already seen impressive results.”
Improvements made with the help of Superfast Business Wales include:
A 24.8 per cent increase in website visitors, with a six per cent increase in average engagement time over the last six months.
An engagement rate of 3.1 per cent on Twitter, up from 0.4 per cent over the last six months.
An increased Instagram reach from six per cent to 14 per cent over the last six months.
New contact form enquiries through the website are up 21 per cent compared to July 2021.
Hannah added: “I took part in three webinar sessions with Superfast Business Wales. One for SEO, one for social media, and one that was an introductory overview to digital marketing.
“They were all incredibly useful and I took away many actionable steps that would make instant improvements to our online presence.”
Improvements implemented by Green Squirrel have so far included editing web copy to focus on SEO, restructuring the website to create a more user-friendly journey, and refocusing Instagram content to improve engagement.
Hannah explained: “We had a one-to-one session with a Superfast Business Wales adviser, and they talked us through the improvements we could make.
“We also received an in-depth report with a list of actions - from small changes to the website’s web copy to rethinking our social media content strategy.
“We were also signposted to free online tools that could help us, such as analytics tracking platforms and template designs for social media posts.
“It’s early days and there’s plenty more to do, but we’re working through the list of actions, and we know that we’re now on the right track to improving our digital offering.
“We designed our website ourselves and the advice from the business adviser has helped us to give it a professional finish.”
To transition from in-person workshops to online services, Green Squirrel created a subscription service that packaged their sessions together. Named The Something Club, the online climate action community was an instant hit with subscribers taking up the opportunity to join online workshops, download resources, and engage with other environmental enthusiasts during digital events.
The business has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 months with the opening of Green Squirrel’s first physical site, located in Splott, Cardiff.
The site, named the Railway Gardens, is a former council playground that had been left derelict for several years.
Securing significant funding for the project, Green Squirrel and its team of volunteers have transformed the eyesore into a community hub of climate education.
Hannah added: “The Railway Garden project has been six years in the making and has been a fun, but steep, learning curve.
“There’s lots going on at the site, from a resource library and community garden, to shipping containers that have been turned into workshop areas.”
The physical site launch combined with a digital overhaul means Green Squirrel is achieving a significant positive trend across the board - with visitors being welcomed in person and a larger online community engaging with the website.
Hannah said: “We’re now shifting into a hybrid way of working, with about 60-70 per cent of our services remaining online. Our sessions are very interactive, so we’re seeing more people requesting in-person sessions again.
“Rebecca, Julia, and I will be based at the Cardiff site part-time, and it’ll be great to be embedded in the community there - there’s a real buzz around the site.
“We’re so grateful for the help we’ve received from Superfast Business Wales. It was a great opportunity to take a step back and see our business from another perspective.
“When you’re so familiar with something, it’s hard to see it from other people’s point of view. We know we’re doing the right things to further grow our online presence, and we’re planning to hire a part-time social media consultant who can really drive engagement and growth for us.”