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Empowering Places

Following a pilot from 2017, Devonport and Stonehouse in Plymouth become one of six areas in England to benefit from this place-based funding programme. Led by Real Ideas as the programme’s catalyst organisation, and supported by NEF, Coops UK and CLES, with local partners, Make Things Happen is working to support our communities to develop community businesses.

We believe local people are the best people to shape services which will benefit the whole area. By harnessing the combined forces of all the players in an area, we believe that community businesses can start up, thrive and achieve positive change for their neighbourhoods, helping to reduce the inequalities felt by many communities across England.

Community businesses are defined as:

  • Locally rooted – businesses started by local people that will benefit the immediate community around it.
  • Accountable to the local community – where local communities must have a genuine say in how the business is run. This can be demonstrated in many ways.
  • Trading for the benefit of the local community – having a clear trading model and sell services and products in and around their local area.
  • Have a broad community impact – they engage with a variety of different groups in their community and deliver impact against a range of different community needs.

Working at both a strategic and grassroots level, through a mixture of hands-on business support, training, tailored expert support and seed funding, Make Things Happen is supporting over 15  active community businesses to start up and thrive. Plymouth’s Empowering programme, is supporting a diversity of local enterprises, including local food collectives, and community newspaper and even a community owned brewery.

Make Things Happen has developed a particular specialism around high streets, supporting organisations such as CLIIK, Nudge Community Builders and the Village Hub; and parks and green spaces, supporting park-based enterprises such as Snapdragons, the Soapbox Theatre and Pollenize.

In addition to close community business support Empowering Places also work to create a better, more sustainable environment in which both current, and future, community businesses can continue to thrive.

This includes a new set of policy principles to allow and support greater community business activity in parks, in tandem with the Enrich programme and Plymouth City Council; a community land bank pilot with Nudge and ongoing wider movement building, working with key city initiatives such as FabCity with Plymouth Culture and Plymouth’s flagship Social Enterprise City status, led by Plymouth Social Enterprise Network.

Make Things Happen has continued to grow and deliver throughout the COVID19 pandemic, where community businesses have proved that they are need more than ever. Empowering Places Programme current cycle will run until summer 2022, and at Real Ideas we are committed solving problems and creating positive lasting change and believe community business is a great way to achieve that.

If you are based around the Devonport and Stonehouse area and you have an idea or business that is local rooted, accountable, impactful and focused on trade, you may well be eligible for support under the Empowering Places programme, we would love to hear from you and love to help. Get in touch – Email Amy Cooper  or Ed Whitelaw to find out more or to get involved.

Empowering Places is funded by Power to Change, an independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England.

No one understands a community better than the people who live there. We work with community businesses to revive local assets, protect the services people rely on, and address local needs.

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