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Brought to you in partnership with Locality, Plunkett Foundation and Power to Change

Pivotal new role set to grow community ownership in the UK

News item

7th December 2021
Glen Wyvis is the world's first community owned distillery, which raised over £2m via community shares
Glenwyvis distillery raised over £2m via community shares

John Dawson will be joining the Community Shares Unit early next year as Head of Market Investment and Development.

John Dawson will be taking up the newly created role that’s been established to secure further funding to invest in the community shares sector and open up community ownership to new audiences across the UK.

Joining from Power to Change, where he’s currently Head of Social Investment, he brings a wealth of experience in the community business sector, having previously also been Development Manager at Locality.

The Community Shares Unit is a partnership between Co-operatives UK, Locality and Plunkett Foundation, set up in 2012 to support community ownership of vital buildings, spaces and services. In the last decade, over £180 million has been invested in 480 vital community businesses and spaces using the community shares funding model.

Community shares is an accessible way for people from all backgrounds to invest in a project or cause they believe in. It gives people an equal stake and a say in what matters to them – and investment amounts can start as low as £10. Community shares have saved community pubs and shops; created homes for the homeless; helped fans own their football clubs; and even helped a community build a skatepark. There are community-owned distilleries, hydro-electric power plants, pools and harbours.

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Community ownership via community shares has been one of the biggest democratising forces in our economy of recent years.
– James de le Vingne, Head of the Development Unit at Co-operatives UK

“There is huge power in this funding model, and that’s why we’ve created this crucial role to bring in other institutional funders into the community shares market, to take it to the next level. Next year is going to be a big year for community shares and John will be a driving force behind it,” continues James.

John Dawson said: “I’m looking forward to playing my part in enabling communities to take control of the spaces and services that are important to them.

“The government has recently launched a £150 million Community Ownership Fund, which requires groups to find significant match funding. The Community Shares Unit has a pivotal role in securing essential funding to ensure community groups have access to the development support and capital they need – and we want to hear from funders who want to support this new wave of community ownership.”

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We want to hear from funders who want to support this new wave of community ownership.
– John Dawson

Through the Community Shares Booster programme over £3 million has been invested into share offers, thanks to significant investment from Power to Change who are a key partner of the Community Shares Unit.

This year, 17 democratically owned and community run co-operatives received over £800,000 in matched in investment through the Booster programme using funding from partners including Power to Change, The Architectural Heritage Fund, and the Greater London Authority.

John takes up his role in January 2022.

Find out about community shares

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