Village SOS Active

posted 16 Aug 2011, 07:53 by Phil Handy   [ updated 18 Aug 2011, 02:02 ]
New support for communities to reverse rural decline through enterprise
 
A new campaign has been launched to help people in rural areas reverse the trend of decline by helping them set up and run community enterprises.
 
Village SOS Active is a campaign by the Big Lottery Fund which is being delivered with the Plunkett Foundation, in partnership with Co-operatives UK, Locality, and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).
 
It will be launched on 10th August 2011 as part of the BBC’s new six-part series, Village SOS. The Active campaign will see dedicated expert advisers provide support and guidance to people inspired by the BBC1 series to set up and run their own community enterprises, from shops and pubs to broadband services and transport systems.
 
As well as the advice line (0845 434 9123) the campaign includes a website (http://www.villagesos.org.uk/) which has downloadable materials like start-up guides, ‘How to…’ documents for different kinds of enterprises and template documents to help people write business plans or market their enterprise. The website also includes a community network area, giving communities a space to share their ideas and inspire each other.
 
Big Lottery Fund has also launched a competition for 250 community enterprises to win between £10,000 and £30,000 to kick start their business. The competition will open at the end of August and close in early October and is to support inspiring business ideas that will bring people together in villages across the UK and support activities and enterprises that will tackle the challenges they face.
 
Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “The closure of village shops and the boarding up of local pubs is an all too common story for rural communities across the UK.
 
An estimated 400 village shops and 700 rural pubs closed in 2010; broadband provision in rural areas is still a long way behind urban areas, and soaring house prices due to second-home owners are leaving villages across the UK in a worrying state.  But an increasing number of rural communities are fighting back against such closures by setting up and running their own enterprises. There are now 260 community-owned shops across the UK which have a 97% business success rate. Through Village SOS Active, we hope to continue to enthuse and inspire villages to build on this success and use the power of community-ownership to deliver long-term benefits to their community, by setting up and running anything from community cafes, shops, and pubs to library services, swimming pools or healthcare services".