At our AGM today, our Chief Executive James Alcock announced that we are relaunching our business advisory service to do just that. The changes we have made have been made possible thanks to a multi-year partnership we have with the National Lottery Community Fund and support from our long-term partners Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
In addition to the current dedicated programmes of work we’re leading in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, for pubs in Scotland, and for community businesses looking to co-locate in places of worship, we’re now able to offer the same level of support to any community business regardless of geography, business type or stage. We will also continue to offer a free community business helpline, accessible 9am-5pm Monday-Friday, for anyone needing advice and information about community ownership.
As demand for Plunkett support from communities across the UK increases, we’ve also changed the way that we assess and prioritise funded support to community groups. When you apply for advisory support from Plunkett, you’ll now be asked a series of questions relating to the impact your community business is making, or intends to have, on your local community. These questions will focus specifically on the five priorities we outlined in our strategy – so we’ll be asking how your community business will:
Provide a wide range of services and amenities that communities value and need
Stimulate the local economy through localised supply chains
Create access to employment, training and volunteering opportunities
Tackle climate change through the delivery of environmentally sustainable initiatives
Promote equity, diversity and inclusion by creating safe and welcoming spaces for all
Community businesses that can demonstrate an intention to increase their impact through these five priority areas will be offered additional support to help them to achieve those goals. Through Plunkett’s website and Member Hub, you’ll also see more resources, webinars and case studies focusing on these five priority areas – including more materials published in the Welsh language – to inspire and encourage community businesses to think about how they can improve the lives of people in their communities.
The more I speak to Plunkett members and hear their amazing stories, the more I believe in the potential for community-owned enterprises to make a real difference. At Plunkett, we’re hopeful that by having conversations with groups about social and environmental impact as early as possible, more communities across the UK will think about how their community business can help to address other issues in society.