Our new Trainee Communications Officer, Michael Wolverson, reflects on his experiences during his first week.

My journey from being a pub manager in a rural village with a strong community spirit to joining a charity with an immense history, reach and influence across the UK is a challenge I’m already enjoying.

Connecting with customers at the bar and coordinating events in my village pub have been rewarding experiences for me that I am incredibly thankful for. Transitioning to Plunkett UK has felt a little daunting, but the chance to contribute to a charity with a significant impact and a growing presence nationwide is an exciting new chapter.

It has been a welcoming experience, and I am continuously absorbing all the knowledge that comes with it! The opportunity to gain insights from my colleagues across the office regarding their specific expertise is proving valuable. I am learning about their dedicated efforts in maintaining and growing Plunkett’s support for rural community-owned businesses.

In my new role, I am getting to grips with the social media channels. So far, I have looked into the volunteer nominees from the 2023 awards, offering me valuable insights into the impact volunteers have on community-owned businesses.

An example was from Invermoriston Community Shop, where one of their volunteers – who battles debilitating MS – regularly volunteers and crafts sea glass jewellery, attracting visitors to the shop.

They offer various activities for the community, such as a Silver Surfers group for over 60s and a quiz night, just to name a few. Similarly, at Kingsley Village Shop, volunteers with disabilities are given opportunities to work and make a positive impact on their community.

These diverse stories, which I will continue to come across, showcase the incredible contributions of volunteers. Yet, it also highlights the importance that volunteers have for their community and for businesses. It has been enlightening to gain this perspective and share these impactful narratives.

With a Journalism masters, I know that with storytelling it is really important that, to get an insight, you need to experience it yourself!

At the end of my first week, I joined three other colleagues on a trip to visit five community-owned shops and a pub in south Oxfordshire, which not only allowed me to get to know the team better but also to see the businesses in action.

The emphasis on the value of volunteers in each location truly resonates Plunkett’s values of creating volunteering opportunities in community-owned businesses. Neil, the volunteer at South Stoke Community Shop, told us they had over 30 volunteers, some of whom come from DofE schemes!

Also, amongst the shops, I was impressed by the range of locally-produced food and drink available to buy – an important element of a community-owned business. One of Plunkett’s five areas of impact is to ‘stimulate the local economy through localised supply chains’.

I have enjoyed the chilli jam and honey I picked up at Ewelme Village Store!

One key takeaway that stuck with me was the significance of backing these businesses.

Claire, the manager at Little Milton Community Shop, shared the poignant phrase ‘lose it or use it’. She told us that around 75% of their business comes from the passing trade, even though it benefits the business; it emphasised the need for locals to support them more.

This insight has motivated me even more to check out community-owned stores and pubs near my home.

I am really excited to get stuck in to the communications here at Plunkett. It is really important for me to be able to share stories of community businesses – whether that is case studies, blogs, events, openings or anything interesting that is happening in your community-owned business!

Join the movement: Become a member today

Why not join over 600 individuals, community businesses and corporate partners and become a member of Plunkett UK? Your membership, which for individuals’ costs just £20 per year, will support our ambition to grow the community ownership movement across the nation.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!