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Colin Crooks awarded an MBE for services to disadvantaged people and the environment

Colin Crooks, 57, CEO of Tree Shepherd a Southwark-based social enterprise, has been awarded an MBE for services to disadvantaged people and the environment after 30 years of helping more than 2500 people across London.

The entrepreneur, who has most recently been in the headlines for supporting local traders facing relocation from the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, has brought hundreds of jobs to London’s poorer areas, helped hundreds more start their own businesses and is currently working with traders facing the harsh realities of redevelopment across South London.

Colin has worked in South London for 25 years and has always been passionate about creating opportunities for the most disadvantaged – employing dozens of unemployed people to recycle paper, starting Cybercycle, which recruited young people from notorious estates to repair computers, and then setting up Green-Works, which reused and recycled 47,000 tonnes of discarded office and school furniture. The social enterprise created nearly 1000 jobs and completely furnished temporary classrooms in a school a week after a disastrous fire gutted it.

Over the last six years Colin has worked with South London’s communities on a new challenge – helping people start their own businesses. Tree Shepherd, based in Elephant and Castle shopping centre, has helped over 700 people start small businesses, and created a trading network leading to 900 jobs. With his team, Colin is currently supporting 19 businesses in Peckham Rye being relocated by the Peckham Rye Station Square redevelopment and advising 80 small independent traders in Elephant & Castle shopping centre to help them relocate when the centre is closed. It is also helping 74 Southwark residents and  over 50 residents of SE16 to start a small business. In 2019, Tree Shepherd is setting up a new shared crafts workspace in Surrey Quays.

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