New research published by independent trust Power to Change in the run up to Community Business Weekend (16-19 May) reveals the sector is growing, optimistic and thriving – employing 33,600 people and 158,000 volunteers and contributing £1.05bn to local economies.
Community businesses come in many forms, from community run shops, pubs, libraries, clothing manufacturers, cafés and leisure centres, to housing trusts and solar farms. They are categorised as being rooted in a local area, run by members of the community and trading for the benefit of that community. They are left filling voids when cash strapped councils and private businesses close down and sell their assets.
This weekend (16-19 May) see’s the start of Community Business Weekend – the annual open doors event that invites people to take a closer look inside community-run businesses to learn more about what they do and how they can get involved.
Last year more than 17,000 people visited 225 community businesses over the course of the event. Many of these visitors are now volunteers, regular customers and even shareholders of those businesses.
Independent trust Power to Change is shining a light on how community businesses across the country are tackling some of society’s biggest problems including housing, energy and mental health with a new campaign.
- Sunderland Homegrown CIC is a growing and thriving community nursery and garden centre that trains and supports vulnerable people in the heart of Sunderland’s Thompson Park. The community business is growing through increased referrals from the NHS, local council and Sunderland College, while the commercial side of the business is also expanding as it now supplies flowers to customers across the North East including the Palace Green at Durham Cathedral.
– B-inspired in Leicester is continuing to diversify its operations as a community business in the Braunstone area of the city, from running a food bank and community outreach projects, to its current refurbishment of a new community sports and wellbeing centre.
- In Plymouth, Nudge Community Builders was set up by community activists with the aim of creating activity in disused or underused urban spaces in the Stonehouse area of the city. Projects to date include transforming a disused shop into a community centre, and the conversion of disused pub The Clipper into a pop-up market space. The business is currently looking for further sites to renovate and transform.
– Bramley Baths, a community run Edwardian bath house in Leeds which acts as a social hub for the community providing a centre for fitness, fun and wellbeing. Originally taken over from the local authority who were running it at a loss, at the end of the 2018 financial year, Bramley Baths recorded an £80k surplus in profit which has been reinvested into the building for the benefit of the community.
Power to Change CEO Vidhya Alakeson said: “Our figures show that community business is fast becoming a strong, viable and essential business sector, helping to drive a shift towards responsive local leadership, entrepreneurship and economic renewal.
“As community businesses expand their work to deal with the many complex challenges being faced by communities across the country, we’re calling on everyone to get involved in shaping the future of their local area by supporting this year’s Community Business Weekend.”
Community businesses include property acquired through asset transfers of closed-down local authority sites such as libraries or swimming pools, or the redevelopment of derelict shops in high streets and town centres.
The full report from Power to Change can be viewed at: https://www.powertochange.org.uk/research/community-business-market-2018/