BGF investment strengthens Cumbria organisation’s management team

AWW provides specialist residential childcare

Cumbria-based A Wilderness Way (AWW), a provider of specialist residential childcare and crisis intervention services, has secured backing from BGF to support its continued investment in providing critical care to vulnerable children.

BGF has invested in AWW for a minority stake in the organisation, which has a portfolio of 20 properties across Northern England and Scotland.

Founded by Geoff Jenkinson and Clare Houghton in 2007, AWW has established itself as a leading provider of high-acuity, life-changing residential care for children at significant risk from exploitation, violence, crime and abuse.

BGF’s funding will be used to develop AWW’s unique provision of individualised care which delivers trauma-informed therapeutic care with contextualised safeguarding to keep vulnerable young people safe.

AWW’s approach promotes the focus on developing young people’s self esteem and confidence through outdoor adventure activities and re–engagement in meaningful learning through AWW’s individualised education programme.

Chief executive Geoff Jenkinson said: “BGF’s ethos and values are well aligned with those that we hold so dear at A Wilderness Way, allowing us to continue to put quality of care and education of our children at the forefront of everything that we do.

“Quality, creativity, safety and creating opportunity for some of the most marginalised children in society is what we have excelled in over the last 13 years, and we are confident that this partnership and investment will allow us to develop further in accordance with our values.”

Harry Jones, investor at BGF, said: “AWW has established itself as a truly differentiated provider that delivers exceptional outcomes for the young people in its care.

“As a business that focuses on delivering social purpose, we are delighted that our investment will help to mobilise additional services to provide for the overwhelming demand for these services.”

AWW will be joined by Fiona Lowry, who has been appointed as non-executive chair.

Fiona brings a wealth of experience to the role, having founded several successful businesses in the healthcare sector, including The Good Care Group, a former BGF portfolio company.

As part of the BGF deal, AWW has implemented a new organisational structure, establishing a leadership platform that can continue to deliver services of excellence and a structure of governance that ensures the safety and progress of children, staff and the organisation.

Under the changes, Geoff Jenkinson will remain chief executive and Clare Houghton will transition to multi-disciplinary team director, responsible for setting the agenda in relation to the therapy model across the organisation and promoting the best interests of children in accordance with the statutory framework.

Robbie Burke, who has worked with AWW as a consultant and non-executive director since 2015, will take on the role of chief operating officer, to oversee quality throughout the organisation, establishing goals for care, education, outdoor education and therapy in partnership with senior managers.

Cheri Jenkinson, who joined the organisation in 2017 as HR manager will take on the role of director of people and organisation.

Cheri will be a member of the executive board and accountable for the performance of the P & O function, as well as providing strategic counsel on all people matters.

BGF’s investment will support the growth and development of more services to the most vulnerable young people across the UK.

Pinesh Mehta, of BGF, led the deal and Harry Jones will join the AWW board.

BGF was advised by Hill Dickinson. AWW was advised by Browne Jacobson and the corporate finance and tax teams at accountancy and business advisory firm MHA Moore and Smalley.

Simon Carruthers, corporate finance director at MHA Moore and Smalley, said: “Having worked with Geoff, Clare and the team for many years, we knew their ambition, strong management structure and clear plan for growth would be a great fit for an investor like BGF.

“It’s been incredibly pleasing to help put this deal together and see Geoff and Clare’s, and their wider management team’s, hard work rewarded.

“A Wilderness Way provides strong outcomes for children because of its commitment to the highest quality care that has been at its heart since starting the business in 2007.

“The investment and additional expertise offered by BGF will help the management team take the business to the next level and provide that exceptional support for even more children across the region.”

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