Aimee Evans, Plunkett’s Project Manger, outlines the simple steps to establishing a community business in a place of worship.

Whether a grocery shop, post office, café, book shop or providing local fresh food, more and more communities are coming together to ensure that their town or village provides vital services. In this blog Aimee Evans, project manager at the Plunkett Foundation, outlines the transformative benefits of community businesses and why places of worship are uniquely placed to help community businesses and their wider communities to flourish.

A community business is owned by the community and serves its community, often providing employment and training, volunteering opportunities, helping to bring people together to tackle problems of isolation and loneliness and improving the general wellbeing of those it serves. Locating a community business within a church, or its buildings, places it at the heart of its village and provides a space that is accessible to all. Through working together the business can provide an opportunity to generate income through rent, attract more people and open up new avenues for funding.

For over 100 years, Plunkett Foundation has been at the heart of supporting rural communities across the UK. It is dedicated to helping groups establish essential services that their community really needs through expert advice, training, advocacy and funding.

Developing any community business involves lots of work and there are some specific considerations when it comes to places of worship, however by following our handy tips you should be well on your way to joining over 700 thriving community-owned businesses across the UK.

Taking it step by step will help you on your way:

  1. Create a vision and consult with your community – there are many types of community business take the time to consult with your community to decide what would most benefit people locally.
  2. Community engagement – share the idea, ensure that you meet regularly with those who manage the place of worship, existing users of the building, survey your local residents, test ideas and gather support – without the backing of your community you’ll struggle to get volunteers or to fundraise.
  3. Set up a steering group and at a public meeting elect a committee – to drive things forward. You’ll want different people with a range of skills and knowledge including representatives from the place of worship.
  4. Create a business plan, including legal structure, and raising finance – this might seem daunting but there’s plenty of help and expert advice from our team of advisers.
  5. Carefully consider how the place of worship can accommodate such activity. This may involve repairs or even adaptation – which will need various permissions, funding and often heritage building expertise. We have teamed up with a range of faith and heritage organisations that are able to provide you with specialist help and advice in this respect.
  6. Raising money – as well as fundraising you can look to loans, grants and community share schemes to raise your capital.
  7. Get ready for trading – recruit and check that you comply with regulations and legislation.
  8. Share your success and struggles with our UK-wide Plunkett friendly network of members happy to share their expertise
  9. Open the doors – celebrate your new community business and recognise all the hard work of those involved. Remember to stay tuned-in to your community needs – diversify and adapt and innovate new services.

We’re keen to help community businesses flourish and thrive for the benefit of their wider community. Through our partnership with Benefact Trust we’re able to offer dedicated business support and grants to help community businesses in places of worship get off the ground.

Whatever stage your idea contact us and we’d be happy to help:  or call 01993 810730.

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