Community co-ops are being encouraged to apply for a share of around £900,000 through the Bright Ideas Fund, a scheme funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Power to Change.
The initiative is aimed at helping community groups or organisations that would like to set up a community business, and gives them the opportunity to apply for business development support or grant funding (up to £20,000) and access to peer to peer networking.
Business advice worth £234,000 was awarded in the first round of grants; the second round opens on 19 April and closes on 31 May. There will be additional rounds in September 2017 and February 2018.
“No one understands a community better than the people who live there,” said Kate Stewart, director of programmes at Power to Change. “In some areas, people are already coming together to solve problems for themselves, and we support them as they run businesses which help their whole community and recycles money back into the local area.
“Through our £1.85m Bright Ideas Fund we aim to help many more inspiring, locally based and community-led businesses to start up and address local needs.”
Successful groups supported by the scheme include Liverpool Laundrette (which is on the road to becoming a co-operative providing an affordable, essential laundry service while providing an events/social space), The Playground (a community skatepark in Great Yarmouth), a community childcare scheme and even a community lettings agency.
“We’re interested in community groups, associations and organisations who have a good idea for a community business but need help developing it, or who are just starting out,” added Ms Stewart. “We seek to be a genuinely inclusive organisation by advancing equality and diversity through our policies and practices. We encourage and welcome applications from people from all backgrounds who are looking to make a real difference to the lives of their local communities.”
Guidance on applying to the Bright Ideas Fund are available on the MyCommunity website.