Last weekend, Plunkett attended the EVH annual conference in Dunblane. Alison Macklin, our Community Business Manager has provided an overview of the event and her role below.

EVH is an organisation providing support to the governing bodies of not for profit and voluntary organisations in all aspects of their employer role. Their annual conference was attended by over 100 people mainly from Housing Associations across Scotland brought together for sessions under the theme of “Choose Change” where delegates were encouraged to take back control and make positive changes for their organisations after so much change had been imposed upon groups over the last few years.

Other sessions included “Home, Safety and Integration”, “Being and Employer in an ever changing world” and “If we started from scratch what would new neighbourhoods look like?”

Plunkett’s participation was the delivery of a keynote speech on the theme “Changing the use of buildings and spaces for Community Benefit” where I reflected how an idea can inspire a community, and the steps and practical support available to convert that concept into reality.

In my speech, I used a number of case studies, particularly featuring church buildings that are housing community businesses, including Gold Café Bookshop which Plunkett has been able to support thanks to our work with the Benefact Trust. We explored service diversification, social impact and the benefits of community-ownership to address issues including wellbeing, loneliness and access to training and employment opportunities. We also looked at the benefits of using assets within a community, that may not being used to their full potential, to create new community businesses and the reasons behind the long-term success rate of this business model.

Afterwards I spoke to a number of delegates, mainly from housing associations, that were interested in the idea of utilising existing buildings under their control that were currently being underused. They were keen to consider how a community café or shop could improve a ‘community,’ through offering a place to meet and access services. I also shared an underlying benefit of using underused buildings, in that a community business can share the overheads for the buildig, making it more financially sustainable in the long term.

It was great to meet so many people keen to explore the concept of community-ownership. Choosing Change can be exciting and can result in happier, healthier, more engaged communities.

Plunkett is proud to work with a range of partners, including Community Shares Scotland and Cooperative Development Scotland with an ambition of ‘Making it easy‘ for groups in Scotland looking to progress a community business project to access advice and support.

If you are interested in accessing our advisory support service please get in touch via You can read more about Plunkett’s services here.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!