Hosted by our partners, Thakeham the discussion which was chaired by the Centre for Social Justice focussed on “How Thriving Place-Based Communities Prevent Social Isolation”. The panel was made up of Labour MP Kim Leadbeater, Duncan Enright, Deputy Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, Rob Boughton CEO of Thakeham and James. It was a great opportunity to share our recently launched strategy with a wider audience; including our mission to create innovative, inclusive and impactful spaces through community-owned businesses.
The inclusive nature of community-owned businesses means that they are actively addressing social isolation in their communities up and down the county. They make sure that those who are vulnerable and at risk of loneliness feel able to be part of the business’s operation and access key services locally. James shared real life examples of businesses supporting people with dementia, helping people to return to work after prolonged illness and being a place for collective grief in response to a local suicide. Those attending the event clearly understood that a community-owned businesses is often so much more than a service provider, they are the hub at the heart of a local area.
Over the next 5 years’, as we aim to support a 20% growth in the number of community-owned businesses we will take a proactive approach to create spaces in which people want to live, visit and participate. More specifically and in relation to inclusivity our strategy reads “Becoming ‘inclusive’ means taking greater efforts to ensure our members take proactive measures to reach, work with & benefit a greater diversity of people”.
Our work to date with Thakeham has provided a fantastic opportunity to encourage community-owned approaches to business in a new setting. In partnership, Plunkett and Thakeham are proactively exploring the opportunity for a retail and café offering at the heart of a new housing development. Helping residents to feel included from the moment they move in to their home aims to foster a greater sense of ‘community’. This pioneering approach will help us to further a conversation which dispels the myth that community-ownership only works as a reactive measure, deployed in response to a business closure/loss of service. It is a project we are really excited to be involved with.