During the “Road to Net Zero: Community Businesses as Climate Champions” sessions, the panel encouraged community businesses to work together to become beacons of sustainability, role models for society, and to provide services that help to create a new norm. The big difference community businesses are making shone through as we heard from speakers across the day from the Auctioneers Arms in Caverswall, The Swan in Clewer, Sister Midnight, Farmborough Community Shop, The Bank at Chopwell, and Amberley Shop on the Common.
In the afternoon, we heard from James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, and Emma McClarkin OBE, Chief Executive of the BBPA, on the current trends, opportunities and challenges facing the retail and hospitality sectors. This session was followed by a lively Q&A around rising energy costs, the challenges in recruiting and retaining staff, with both community pubs and community shops pleased to hear about the lobbying and advocacy work being done to negotiate fairer prices for businesses.
The “Ask the Funders” panel featured representatives from a range of grant funding bodies, as well as John Dawson from the Community Shares Unit, who provided advice on the Booster Fund. Mark Purvis, Deputy Director for England at the National Lottery Community Fund and Kelcey Wilson-Lee from the Architectural Heritage Fund both encouraged groups to ask questions prior to submitting funding applications.
Finally on the main stage, our closing keynote Adam Henson inspired delegates with his talk about purpose-driven, values-based business and the importance of building an excellent team around you; urging them to consider environmental impact and food provenance in their work.