Many great ideas begin with a friendly conversation, a chance meeting or in response to a set of unexpected circumstances. An initial spark of an idea often inspires a group of people to come together and explore how they can improve their community through new services, bring people together and how through working together they can simply make their community a better place to live.
For over 100 years, the Plunkett Foundation has been at the heart of supporting rural communities across the UK. It is dedicated to helping groups of local people establish new services that their community really needs through expert advice, training, advocacy and funding. Plunkett advocates the community business model that means it is owned and run by the community and these businesses can range from bookshops and bakeries to post offices and farmers markets – essentially any business that the community needs.
Often, however, many community groups with great ideas struggle to find a space from which to work and at Plunkett we want to unlock the potential of co-locating community businesses with places of worship for the benefit of the wider community.
Churches and their associated buildings can make great venues for community businesses, helping to keep local services open – providing space for the creation of businesses such as shops and cafes which reduce loneliness, create jobs and training and become outlets for local products and services.
Locating a community business in a place of worship can also help to keep these, often historic, buildings open and in good condition by generating income through rent, sharing the bills and increasing their opportunities to apply for other sources of funding. Equally, for the community business it provides premises, a central location and an opportunity to invest in a much valued community asset.
Working with Benefact Trust, we are delighted to provide the advice and feasibility resources needed to encourage churches and community businesses to work closer together. Our programme provides the bespoke advice and support needed to encourage new community businesses to thrive in places of worship. We’re keen to support initial ideas and to help groups explore the opportunities of setting up or diversify a community business that will help create an innovative, inclusive and impactful community spaces.