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BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 02 July '16
The national campaign to promote community business through an open-doors weekend
Taking place on 02 and 03 July, the first Community Business Weekend will see community businesses all over England throw open their doors and host inspiring events to reveal the positive impact they have in their local area.
The challenge of divided communities
Owned and run by the community, these businesses are bringing people together to improve their local area and boost the local economy and quality of life of local residents.
The organisations taking part in Community Business Weekend are varied and span the country. Events include coaching sessions at a grassroots football association in East Lancashire; a family fun day at The Bevy community pub in Brighton; a community heritage event at a railway preservation society in South Tynedale, Derbyshire; a community market at Granby Four Streets regeneration project in Liverpool and an open day at Fordhall Farm in Shropshire, one of the most high-profile community businesses we’ve seen in recent years.
The campaign is driven by Power to Change, the charitable trust set up by Big Lottery Fund to support community business in England. It’s also supported by Plunkett Foundation, one of the leading community business support providers.
‘Whether you voted to remain in or to leave the EU, we are all facing the challenge of divided communities. Now more than ever, it is important to celebrate community businesses that bring local people together to build stronger, more inclusive communities.
‘Often set up in the face of adversity, community businesses give an opportunity for local people to improve their place by owning a business that trades for the benefit of their local area. They help people reconnect with their neighbours and provide services that the community really needs.’
Interim CEO of Power to Change
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Fordhall Farm, a landmark community initiative that has made headlines around the world and is one of the key supporters of Community Business Weekend.
Britain’s first community-owned farm was established after a David and Goliath-style battle by a brother and sister team to raise £800,000 to buy the tenancy.
Charlotte and Ben Hollins launched a campaign to save their late father’s legacy at Fordhall Farm in Shropshire. Now 10 years on they are so grateful to the thousands of shareholders and volunteers who supported their cause, they have become key supporters of the drive to grow community businesses across the UK.
‘We certainly hope this weekend will show people what can be achieved and that each contribution, no matter how small, makes a massive difference and can improve life for all. If there is a further contribution that we can make as part of our legacy it is to encourage more communities to believe they can save and launch businesses together in their local area and take ownership of them to have a say in their own future.’
Burton Street Foundation
Another community business taking part is Burton Street Foundation in Hillsborough. From what used to be an abandoned school, the foundation provides a range of activities for the local community, including sessions specifically for adults and children with learning difficulties.
During Community Business Weekend, Burton Street will give visitors guided tours, run a host of activities for people of all ages including those with disabilities, share information on services and hold a local history exhibition.
‘We are a thriving community hub but often looked upon as a hidden gem, because people often don’t know what we do and when they find out, they are blown away. Community Business Weekend is a great chance for businesses within the community to open their doors and showcase everything that they can offer to everyone in the local area.’
Managing director of Burton Street Foundation