Coop and Plunkett logos

A dedicated programme of support has been launched by the Plunkett Foundation to help rural community businesses across the UK as they battle the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus lockdown.

Thanks to funding from the Co-op, Plunkett will offer a dedicated package of free Covid-19 support for open and trading community businesses, as well as those developing groups that have been affected by the pandemic.

The new scheme will focus on getting one-to-one support to groups that need it the most. This 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 such as;

  • developing short – medium term cash flow,
  • reviewing business plans,
  • applying for funding,
  • upholding good practice governance,
  • utilising community shares and accessing government support.

Those developing groups that were working towards opening their business will also be able to access adviser support to help these projects navigate this challenge.

As a core part of all Plunkett operations, peer learning will be proactively encouraged and community businesses will be linked up with each other to share experiences and stories of what they are doing, how they are responding to Covid-19 and what innovative practises have been introduced.

Plunkett’s chief executive James Alcock said: “We are grateful to the Co-op for recognising the crucial role that all types of community businesses play in rural areas, and for supporting Plunkett at this critical time when community businesses most need our support. The coronavirus lockdown has had a wide and varied effect on our members – some have experienced a surge in demand but a reduction in volunteers, whilst others have been forced to close their doors, and many have diversified and adapted the services they offer to meet local need and recruit whole new armies of volunteers. Above all, those involved in running community businesses have been faced with unprecedented challenges and unfamiliar and difficult decisions to make, making this new support from Co-op so vital.

“This new support will not only help community businesses, but it will help the many thousands of people in rural areas who rely heavily on the services they offer. Plunkett and our network of Advisers want to ensure these businesses will not just survive but continue to thrive in the future.”

Co-operative Partnerships Manager Edward Powell said: “‘The Plunkett Foundation has supported almost 600 community businesses across some of the most rural and isolated communities in the UK, helping not only to safeguard valuable assets but to deliver food and be leading hubs of voluntary responses to Covid-19.

“The Co-op have always supported other co-operatives and community businesses with co-operation at their heart. By helping the Plunkett Foundation support community businesses to adapt to the challenges of the crisis, we can together help to save these vital hubs, so communities can work together to address the needs of their communities. That is co-operation in action.”

For more information on Plunkett’s Covid-19 Support contact us directly via info@plunkett.co.uk / 01993 810 730.

Plunkett has a dedicated Covid-19 live page, which is regularly updates 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.