BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 28 Apr '15

Support for community-owned shops to transform urban areas

Ten areas will benefit from a pilot project to provide better access to affordable food through the establishment of community-owned shops.

Our Urban Shop, a project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and delivered by the Plunkett Foundation and Locality, will deliver specialist support worth £5,000 to 10 groups to help them set up community-owned shops.

The project replicates a model that has been hugely successful in rural communities looking to combat similar issues.

Transforming communities

With changes to shopping patterns, shop closures and the decline of the high street, urban communities – like rural communities – also suffer from lack of access to fresh, affordable produce.

Community shops are owned and run by the community themselves, often relying on volunteers to deliver the service. They have been transformative for rural communities, with 322 now open and trading across the UK.

With only 16 ever having closed, the model offers a sustainable option for communities looking to take control of their own services.

Following the success of community-owned shops in rural areas, the aim of Our Urban Shop is to trial how to inspire and provide support to urban communities in the UK in order for them to set up their own sustainable community-owned shops which meets their specific needs. 

Communities take control

The project will help urban communities create a place for local people to access good quality, affordable food, as well as providing opportunities for employment, training and volunteering.

‘Community shops are a lifeline for communities, not only acting as a place to buy essentials like bread, milk and fresh vegetables, but also offering those at risk of social isolation and loneliness a place to meet.

‘Although only in its pilot phase, Our Urban Shop project has already received interest from over 100 community groups across the UK as an increasing number of communities look to themselves to take control of the issues affecting them.’

James Alcock, Head of Frontline at the Plunkett Foundation

The pilot projects

The 10 successful areas are:

  • Grange Park estate, Blackpool
  • Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Somers Town, Camden, London
  • Ely & Caerau, Cardiff
  • Ruchazie, Glasgow
  • Bootle, Merseyside
  • Windmill Hill, Bristol
  • Park Springs, Gainsborough
  • Princes Park, Toxteth, Liverpool
  • Sutton, London

The learnings and insights gained regarding the successes and challenges of these pilot communities experiences will be used for the delivery of any future programme of support.

Have a look at the Our Urban Shop Factsheet to find out more about the project.