The Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme is inviting community businesses across the East of England to apply for grants of up to £1,000 to ensure they emerge from lockdown ready for a brighter Christmas and the New Year. 

This allocation of funding has arrived as the scheme – a partnership between East Anglian housebuilder Hopkins Homes and national charity the Plunkett Foundation – was extended after a successful launch phase in the summer. With the enforced closure due to lockdown periods, and now reopening under tight Government guidelines it has been an extremely challenging year for community organisations including pubs, shops and cafes.

The Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme is available to not only provide grant funding for a selection of successful applicants but also to provide free support and expertise from the charity’s central support service and network of advisors.

James Hopkins, Executive Chairman and Founder of Hopkins Homes, said: “We are reaching the time of year where traditionally communities and families would join together and celebrate the Christmas and New Year period.

“This year we won’t be able to do this as we normally would, with opportunities to socialise and congregate scaled back due to the restrictions of the ongoing pandemic. However, it is still vitally important that the needs and well-being of communities are supported in these winter months.

“With the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme we want to take our support to the next level and invite community organisations in our region to apply for grant funding and speak to the expert advisors for advice on how to adapt their business so they can survive and thrive.

“Hopkins Homes is proud to support the communities in which it operates in and we are hopeful 2021 will be a year where we can further emerge from Covid-19 and get our communities back to some sense of normality for people to enjoy.”

The Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme has focused on getting one-to-one support to community groups since its launch in June. This can be on a range of matters including governance guidance, cash flow advice and business planning, volunteer recruitment and management, accessing funding and navigating government support schemes.

A previous recipient of support is the Bodham & Beckham Community Shop Project, with a committee looking to set up a shop in this area of North Norfolk.

A spokesperson for the project’s committee said: “The Covid-19 situation has really brought home the importance of shops in our communities. For us in Bodham & Beckham it has re-enforced our determination to establish a community owned shop. The availability of funds to give us expert advice on setting up our organisation has been beneficial already and will help us establish a strong foundation from which to build a successful community owned shop. Community Shops are proven hubs providing essentials groceries and so much more besides. Establishing one in our community will undoubtedly be transformational; tackling loneliness, rural isolation, and boosting community spirit.”

James Alcock, Plunkett’s Chief Executive, said: “We are thrilled by the generous support shown by Hopkins Homes towards community businesses in the East of England during what is arguably the most challenging time the sector has ever seen. From increased reliance on village shops, to community pubs being prevented from opening their doors as widely as they would like to this festive season, community businesses are really feeling the strain.

“This support from Hopkins is crucial in helping the sector navigate their continued concerns and difficulties whilst they step up to keep the needs of their communities at the heart of what they do. This funding, boosted with a small grants programme, now means we can offer even more support at a time that could be make or break for many community businesses.”

Groups in the early stages of setting up a community business and established community businesses are now able to apply for the grants. For more information on how to apply for the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme grants download the grant guidance notes and application form or email support@plunkett.co.uk