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August 14, 2013

Help is at hand

It’s a dilemma that many rural (and some urban) communities have faced.  A local service is about to close and although everyone knows how vital the shop/post office/petrol station is to the life of the community, they feel powerless to do anything about it. Even if they wanted to mount a community buy out – no one in the village knows the first thing about how to run a shop, let alone how to run one that would be community owned.  For any community that finds itself in this predicament, there’s good news.


The Plunkett Foundation has been awarded £50,000 from the Prince’s Countryside Fund to promote community ownership and co-operative enterprise as one solution to the challenges facing rural Scottish communities.  

Plunkett Scotland aims to provide a comprehensive support service to rural communities throughout Scotland who wish to retain essential services, or develop new enterprises, through community ownership and co-operation. Examples could include the local shop, pub, petrol pumps, vital transport link, renewable energy, broadband, food or forestry based enterprises. Support will be provided by a network of trained mentor-advisers. 

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, said: “The £50,000 over the next two years from the Prince’s Countryside Fund is great news for rural Scottish communities who are at risk of physical or social isolation following the loss of, or, for example, the threat to their village shop; as well as for communities wishing to explore other forms of community enterprise.”  

Peter continues, “The grant will enable aspiring community enterprises to benefit from the experience of a mentor who has first-hand knowledge of starting and running a business in the same sector, as well as facilitated visits to real-life enterprises in comparable communities, with opportunities for sharing, networking and asking the awkward questions.”

The Plunkett Foundation was established to help rural communities tackle the problems they face by working together through co-operative action. The project is intended to promote community ownership and co-operative enterprise as one solution to the challenges facing rural communities in Scotland. 

Plunkett Foundation extended its services to form Plunkett Scotland by merging with the Scotland based Community Retailing Network (CRN) in January this year to give Scotland’s rural communities greater access to Plunkett’s support to set up community-owned enterprise.