Here at Co-operative and Community Finance, we’ve worked with the Plunkett Foundation for many years – in 2006 we were partners in a project which was then called Village Core. This was a programme where business support was provided by Plunkett, the local community raised finance, we provided a loan and with financial support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, they received a matching grant.
It was extremely successful, we helped well over 100 rural, community owned shops to start up and develop and what is particularly pleasing is that they are all continuing to trade today. We are now partners in More Than a Pub, a similar programme of business support, community finance, a loan and a grant to help community owned pubs.
With such a close relationship, it was a pleasure to attend their AGM in Bristol recently to celebrate their 100 year anniversary and pleasing to hear how well they are doing with More than a pub, as well as several other exciting projects on the go, including:
- Making Local Woods Work – supporting the growth of the community woodland sector
- The Inspire Programme – promoting the benefits of the co-operative/community owned business approach
- A UK wide Advice Line – a free service giving guidance on setting up or running a community business
Their achievements in 2018 are impressive, supporting the opening 50 new community businesses and assisting well over 500 new communities who contacted them for support. There are now about 600 community owned businesses in the UK, including the community owned shop in Ambridge! (for Radio 4 Archers fans)
It was also really interesting to hear from Kate Targett who has spent the last few years transcribing, annotating and indexing 51 volumes of Horace Plunkett’s diaries. A mammoth effort, given his appalling handwriting, but she was able to give a fascinating insight into Horace’s life and the sort of person he was.
Here’s to the next 100 years of the Plunkett Foundation – we are pleased to be on the journey with you.