Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme

AWARD-WINNING East Anglian housebuilder Hopkins Homes has teamed up with a national charity to support community businesses across the region as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has partnered with the Plunkett Foundation to provide free support and the expertise from the charity’s network of advisors under their Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme. Community businesses across Norfolk and, also, Suffolk, rural Essex and Cambridgeshire, will all be eligible to apply for the support from June 15th 2020.

Plunkett helps rural communities to tackle the issues they face, through promoting and supporting community businesses, which are enterprises that are owned and run democratically by members of the community and others, on behalf of the community.

James Hopkins, Executive Chairman and Founder of Hopkins Homes, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has made everybody take a step back and consider the needs and well-being of their communities in a different way. Hopkins Homes is no exception.

“We are proud to announce this partnership with the Plunkett Foundation to support community businesses across the region we operate in as they emerge from this pandemic.

“Together, we hope to make a real difference and ease the burden of recovery for community groups so they can continue to make valuable, lasting contributions to support the many people that rely on them.”

The Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme will focus on getting one-to-one support to groups in Norfolk and wider across East Anglia – which will include free practical support from Plunkett’s national network of specialist community businesses advisers.

All forms of community business – including woodlands, farms, bakeries, pubs and shops – will be able to get support, advice and guidance on a range of issues including  governance guidance, cash flow advice and business planning, volunteer recruitment and management, accessing funding and navigating government support schemes.

James Alcock, Plunkett’s chief executive, said: “We are grateful to Hopkins Homes for recognising the importance of community businesses to the lives of people across East Anglia. In this time of national crisis more and more people – especially in rural communities – have been turning to community businesses for the essential services they need. This has happened at the same time as we have witnessed a strain on supply chains and volunteer numbers because of the lockdown.

“Throughout this crisis we have seen an outpouring of community spirit, a wealth of new and diverse services offered to meet local need and recruit whole new armies of volunteers. That said, the challenges and difficult decisions are ongoing and this new support from Hopkins Homes is so vital and could not come at a more critical time for community businesses to ensure they don’t just survive but thrive.”

Groups in the early stages of setting up a community business and established community businesses are now able to apply for the new Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme support.

The scheme has been welcomed across the region.

Maggie James, of the Duke Of Marlborough, Somersham Community Pub Limited, Suffolk, said: “The coronavirus crisis has been an extremely challenging time for our community pub and other community businesses across Suffolk and this new support scheme from Hopkins and Plunkett will really help us and others across the county. We hope to re-open soon and need more guidance on Covid-19 to ensure our customers and staff are safe”.

Helen Boothman, of Houghton & Wyton Community Shop Limited, Cambridgeshire, said: “The coronavirus crisis has been a challenging time for community businesses across Cambridgeshire so this support from Hopkins and Plunkett could not be better timed to help us to serve our communities through home deliveries, food parcels and providing local places to shop in as safe a way as we can. It is fantastic to know Plunkett are there offering advice on issues like volunteer management, governance and scenario planning to help us ensure our business is as a good as it can be through and after this crisis.”

Alan Collard of the Pump House Community Brewery in Toppesfield, Essex, said: “For many community businesses in Essex, the arrival of the novel coronavirus and the consequent lock down have presented similarly novel challenges and opportunities. In this environment, the availability of free practical advice supported by Hopkins Homes and provided by Plunkett’s experienced team of advisors is very timely.”

Andrew Purdy, of Ryburgh Village Shop in Norfolk, said: “It is at times of crisis that communities pull together and it is in times like this that community businesses come to the fore. The coronavirus has created a challenging environment for all businesses, particularly community owned pubs, shops, farms and the like and especially in a rural area like Norfolk.  Many of these businesses are at the heart of their communities and this timely support from Hopkins Homes and the Plunkett Foundation should inspire these businesses to grasp the opportunity and be the seed for economic recovery within their communities.”

For more information on the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme contact us directly via info@plunkett.co.uk / 01993 810 730.

Plunkett has a dedicated Covid-19 live page, which is regularly updated with the latest advice and guidance for community businesses. Pub and shop groups can also share information in the Community Shop and Community Pub networks on Facebook.