Building a movement
In his speech, Stephen paid testament to the volunteers at heart of our sector. He acknowledged that there are many challenges leading to widespread fatigue amongst the network. Having to deal with reduced footfall, increased costs, staff shortages and disrupted supply chains have been placing undue pressures on individuals who have given everything for the benefit of their local community. It was great therefore to report genuine progression being made in terms of building a ‘movement’ for our sector, making sure that every business and developing project has access to genuine mutual aid and peer support from other community businesses from across the UK. As well as this grassroots expertise, it was good to see funders and other commissioners recognise the importance of advisory support services. The announcement of a consortium, led by our long-term partners, Locality leading offering support to applicants of the UK Community Ownership Fund was perhaps the most significant example of this recognition in the past year.
Plunkett will continue to represent the interests for all community businesses that we work with. We will continue to advocate for a strong policy, funding and support environment across England, Scotland, Wales, and Norther Ireland. Stephen thanked staff, both past and present for their contributions to our movement. Speaking on behalf of the board he also paid tribute to the new trustees that have joined the organisation this year. Stepehen paid tribute to Julian Ross and Sue Boer, long-time members of the board of trustees and representatives of community businesses in Cumbria and Somerset respectively, who stepped down at the AGM.