Co-operatives UK is joining the celebrations for Communities Week (21-25 September) – an annual event recognising the work of people and organisations making a positive impact in their local areas.
To celebrate, we’re highlighting two of the amazing community projects we’ve supported through the Community Shares Booster Programme. This funding programme provides development grants and matched investment for organisations running community share offers, that can demonstrate higher than average levels of community impact, innovation and engagement.
Community shares are a popular approach to raising finance, in which local people invest often small sums of money and become co-owners of vital local enterprises – from pools to pubs, community housing to heritage buildings. The Booster Programme, led by Co-operatives UK and funded by independent trust Power to Change and the Architectural Heritage Fund, has helped communities across the country to own, develop and save much-loved spaces and buildings.
Project 1: A local lifeline for Marsden
Villagers in Marsden, West Yorkshire wanted to create a shop to benefit the whole community, including residents on lower incomes, vegetarians, vegans and people on special diets who find it hard to find the right food locally. They also wanted to create high-quality local jobs with flexible working hours, meaningful volunteering opportunities and new business openings for local suppliers.
A total of 396 local people came together and raised more than £53,000 to set up a co-operative grocery store. The Community Shares Booster Programme invested a further £6,650 in their community share offer – helping the people of Marsden create a valuable lifeline for everyone in the village. Find out more here.
Project 2: Restoring a centuries old business
The Warwick Bridge Preservation Society in Cumbria issued a community share offer to restore the historic Warwick Bridge Corn Mill. They received a £10,000 development grant from the Community Shares Booster Programme, and an additional £49,500 in investment after reaching their £99,000 target with over 200 investors.
The historic machinery was returned to working order to allow corn to be milled again. Food production was reinstated with a bakery using renewable energy. The society sped up their plans to restart stoneground flour production for the first time in almost 30 years. They are now supplying local shops, including fellow community businesses. Find out more here.
The Community Shares Booster Programme is open for applications. Visit the site to find out more and apply.
For more inspiring stories of people and organisations making a difference in their communities, visit My Community – where you’ll find all the information you need to take action in your community.