In the last 25 years, the Plunkett Foundation has helped establish over 700 community businesses and is at the heart of supporting rural communities across the UK. These businesses, ranging from bookshops to bakeries and post offices to farmers markets, have the power to re-energise communities, bring about lasting change and help address issues of loneliness, isolation, unemployment and improve general wellbeing.
Often, however, many community groups with great ideas struggle to find a space from which to work and falter due to large start-up costs and the commitment to long-term rental agreements or purchasing premises. At Plunkett, we want to unlock the potential of community businesses locating within places of active worship, so that they can make use of underused space whilst kick-starting businesses that benefit the wider community.
Running a community-focused business within a place of worship can contribute to the upkeep of the building, sharing its energy bills and attract new sources of funding. They can provide essential services that keep the community connected and bring greater footfall to these much-loved spaces. For the community business, locating at the church’s central location can bring-in more business, it provides premises at reasonable rates and thereby lowers ‘start-up’ fees and provides an opportunity to invest in buildings that its local customers value.
Diary clashes, storage, health and safety, sharing facilities – there are many perceived barriers, but Sarah Battarbee from Grindleford Community Shop explains how their shop operates from within the vestry of St Helen’s church in the Peak District of Grindleford.
“We kept the lines of communication very open, meeting regularly to ensure everyone knew of our plans and so that we could accommodate the church’s activities. We discussed practical changes so that customers could easily access the shop and café and the work of the church could continue as normal.”
Grants & advice available for new groups
Working with Benefact Trust, we are able to provide bespoke advice and feasibility grants needed to encourage churches and community businesses to work closer together. This funding is available in both rural and urban areas across the UK. We’re keen to help groups explore the opportunities of setting up a community business within church buildings that will provide wider community wellbeing and help their towns and villages to thrive.