Co-operatives in the UK and Ireland have been invited to enter the Community Ownership Awards that recognise community action.
The awards, launched last week by co-op charity Plunkett Foundation, celebrate community work of people in rural areas.
The event aims to raise awareness of the issues they face and how these can be overcome through collaborative action.
Plunkett’s head of frontline James Alcock said: “All over the UK and Ireland, people living in rural areas are taking matters into their own hands to address some of the challenges associated with rural life.
“Many rural people are experiencing loneliness, isolation or poverty because it’s difficult to access a lot of the things that are needed to participate fully in society and modern life.
“Those include a regular bus service, being able to buy affordable food at a local shop, having reliable access to the internet, or somewhere to socialise and meet people.”
The Plunkett Foundation was set up in 1919 and primarily helps people in rural areas to set up and run community co-operatives, as well as tackle issues they encounter.
The Foundation believes that, by becoming involved in a community-owned business – either by setting one up or by volunteering at an existing one – people can transform their lives.
An increasing number of organisations are choosing the model, with 343 shops and 43 pubs having been saved as community co-ops.
Ian Rothwell, investment manager at Co-operative and Community Finance which is one of the sponsors of the awards, said: “We were one of the partners in the Village Core programme that was responsible for the start up of hundreds of community-owned shops and more recently we have been working with Plunkett in the More Than A Pub programme.
“We are delighted to sponsor this awards scheme that celebrates community ownership.”
The More Than A Pub programme has a value of over £3.6 million and supports community ownership of pubs in England.
“The awards will celebrate the many fantastic examples all over the UK, and raise awareness about the co-operative model to an even wider audience,” added Mr Alcock.
The deadline for award applications is 14 October, and winners will be announced at a special ceremony in London on 28 November.
More information and the application form are available on www.communityownershipawards.com.