Plunkett’s Project Manager – Susie Middleton – explains how community businesses locating in places of active worship can create mutual benefits and have a positive impact in the local area.

Currently only around 1 in 10 groups that contact Plunkett Foundation for support to set up a community business will ever reach trading status. There can be many reasons that prevent the groups from realising their community-ownership ambitions, but the lack of available or suitable premises from where to trade is a common problem they face.

At the same time, many places of worship such as churches, are seeing reduced congregations and are actively seeking ways to increase footfall, strengthen their already important role at the heart of their community, and create an income stream which contributes to the upkeep of these often historic buildings.

Plunkett is part of a coalition of organisations campaigning to promote the benefits of community businesses co-locating in places of worship. There are wonderful examples of this model already helping community businesses and churches alike to flourish, with shops, cafes, farmers markets, performance spaces and renewable energy schemes already operating from within church buildings across the UK.

For example, the Grindleford Community Shop is a thriving community business in heart of the Peak District. Plunkett recently ran a webinar about the shop, covering how it was set up and how it continues to benefit both its community and the church in which it is based. Proof Bakery, a Social Enterprise that operates from a church in Coventry provides another example to learn from. Whilst they are not technically a “community-owned / community-run” business, their operation from the church kitchens, offering baking courses to refugees, is a great way of making positive use of underused space.

Plunkett is delighted to be working with the Allchurches Trust to support its ‘Places of Worship’ campaign and provide specialist support and bespoke advice to community groups and Christian places of worship throughout the UK. Plunkett can advise projects at all stages of their journey to trading, from consulting your community to raising the funds for your project. Through our membership scheme we also offer enhanced, longer term support for these businesses.

Recognising that access to funding is critical in the early stages of a project’s development, Allchurches funding has enabled Plunkett to offer small grants of up to £5,000 to support a group’s development and help with the costs of any feasibility work being completed. The funding could also pay for Plunkett Business Membership which may be of interest to those wanting to use the Model Rules service offered by Plunkett, to support a group to register their legal form with the Financial Conduct Authority. The funding aims to help turn ideas in to projects, with our advisers offering support at every stage.

More information can be found here on the Plunkett website or by calling 0845 5571469.

If you’d like to investigate the opportunities of co-locating within a church, please contact Susie Middleton, Project Manager at Susie.middleton@plunkett.co.uk