RURAL communities are set to benefit from a new injection of funding to help revive their villages through community enterprise.
It comes after the Plunkett Foundation teamed up with long-term supporters the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to create a new comprehensive support service for rural communities.
The service is aimed at communities considering setting up or diversifying community-owned services – like shops and pubs – to help turn the tide on rural decline.
It will provide a combination of adviser support, training, feasibility grants of up to £2,000, and opportunities for networking with other community enterprises.
The support is specifically focused at the early stage of a community's ideas, and will help them progress to the next stage.
Eligibility for support will depend on communities aiming to raise at least £10,000 themselves through community shares.
Support will be given to ensure communities are creating viable and sustainable businesses that engage the whole community.
James Alcock, head of frontline services at the Plunkett Foundation, said the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation had been a long-term supporter of Plunkett's work.
It included funding Plunkett's Village CORE programme, which provided almost 100 rural communities with specialist support and funding to save their village shop.
"Now, thanks to the continued support of Esmée Fairbairn, we are able to extend our work to other forms of enterprise, benefitting more communities across the whole of the UK.
"Our support through this programme encourages enterprises to raise at least £10,000 by offering shares to the whole community."
Mr Alcock said this approach had been extremely successful for enterprises like shops and pubs.
It allowed them to raise a significant amount of money in often a short space of time while ensuring the success of the enterprise is rooted in the whole community.
It also helped empower residents to make a difference and ensure long-term sustainability, without sole reliance on grants.
Rural communities who need support for their enterprises are encouraged to contact Plunkett on 01993 810730 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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