Amidst the cost of living and energy price crises and at a time when Plunkett’s community business helpline is needed most, Garfield Weston has offered its support to the charity to meet high demand for advice and support. Groups at any stage of their journey; from new start projects working towards community-ownership, to established and experienced businesses will be able to access free one-to-one support from Plunkett thanks to Garfield Weston’s funding.

Plunkett’s renowned community business support service has become limited in recent times because of a reduction in funding. The services have also often been deployed in line with specific projects – targeting set geographies, or businesses types for example. Garfield Weston recognised the impact that these limitations are having on a sector that needs to be able to access the best support around. A one-year funding package from Garfield Weston will protect Plunkett’s core ‘end-to-end’ business support service, meaning that the team can get on with helping groups to mitigate the challenges they are currently facing.

Experience shows that community-owned businesses are adept at responding to and mitigating crisis but Plunkett estimates that as many as 1 in 5 businesses are currently vulnerable as a result of the financial pressures they face. Whilst a lot of advice is being offered to groups in crisis, from short-term cash flows to reforecasting operating budgets, there are also businesses using this moment to plan ahead and look at being more energy resilient in future. Plunkett’s bespoke service, accessed via our manned helpline (not a web form) is meeting a huge range of needs. Groups are getting access to the advice they need, to address the unique circumstances they face.

Plunkett’s comprehensive advisory service includes:

  • An advice line on all matters relating to setting up and running a community business
  • Individual mentoring and community development support
  • Expert advice and guidance relating to community ownership of businesses
  • Physical and online training
  • Bespoke resources and templates for setting up and running community businesses
  • Business appraisals which assess the performance of community businesses, make recommendations for improvements, and troubleshoot those at risk of closure
  • Online forums and physical networking opportunities to encourage peer learning and information sharing

Claire Spendley, Head of Community Business at Plunkett said: “This funding could not have come at a better time. We pride ourselves on our people centred service and thanks to Garfield Weston we can be there for the UK-wide network of community businesses right now, helping them through this storm and also to prepare for the future too.”

“As part of Plunkett’s 5 year strategy which we launched last year, our aim is to grow the sector by 20% by 2026 and a commitment to providing a “universal” business service is integral to this. We recognise the need to support the current network of community businesses, as well as help new groups to reach trading. The core funding we have received from Garfield Weston will help us to achieve this”

If your group, project or trading business is need of advice and support please get in touch via  

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