Plunkett Foundation is delighted to launch a new project – #iwill – to help community businesses engage, involve and employ young people.

Community-owned shops and pubs provide local opportunities – for jobs, training and volunteering. Often the last remaining service in a rural village they provide a place to meet, a focus for social activities and help people feel less isolated, lonely and enjoy improved wellbeing.

Through the #iwill programme Plunkett and the community businesses it supports will create opportunities for youth social action, such as volunteer and employment opportunities, providing valuable life skills and work experience to help rural young people flourish.

Funded by The Dulverton Trust, the project will run for one year supporting rural community businesses to engage, employ and train young people (aged between 16-20 years) across England.

The new programme, aims to build the confidence of rural community businesses to engage with young people by developing resources and delivering training events and webinars. One to one business support and peer networking will also be available to help groups navigate the necessary legislation and embed best practice.

The project will champion the role of young people in supporting community-owned and focused businesses and will encourage them to share their experiences through forums and a report to inform future work.

James Alcock, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, said: “In rural communities young people need opportunities – they are often disadvantaged by a lack of services. Through the #iwill project we will support community businesses to build their confidence, implement activities and ultimately to support young people  to become involved in their community business – whether that is volunteering, apprenticeship schemes or employment. We are hugely grateful to The Dulverton Trust for funding this essential work, which will help young people and their rural towns and villages to thrive.”

To find out more information or receive support please contact or 01993 630022


To find out more information or receive support please contact or 01993 630022

Volunteering at Semley Community Stores

Katherine, 16 years old, is one of the volunteers at Semley Village Stores, near Shaftesbury.

Katherine’s journey with Semley Village Stores began four years ago, when as a quietly spoken 13 year old, she began volunteering with the community business, on Saturday afternoons, as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award.

When Katherine joined the Shop she was a completely different young person to the one who works so diligently today. By her own admission Katherine was very shy and struggled to embrace the volunteer activities she was given through her own initiative. Despite an initially challenging volunteering experience, Katherine returned to Semley Village Stores to undertake her DofE Silver Award.

To the shop’s huge pleasure, Katherine waltzed her DofE Silver Award with a glowing tribute from the shop, before going on to do her Gold DofE – volunteering again.

In the summer of 2021 she was elevated to a “paid teenager” at £9.00 per hour because the Shop wanted to recognise how far she’d come and how capable she now is. Although she is back at school for her A-levels and despite the fact that she no longer needs to volunteer for her Duke of Edinburgh Award, she has chosen to keep doing so.

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