Plunkett, which supports rural community businesses, welcomed the announcement, and said the support from the fund was much needed. Earlier this year, it issued a report warning of increased closure rates of community shops.
It hopes the new funding will help reverse this trend. Under the scheme, groups at all stages of their community business journey can apply for support, including mentoring, specialist advice and training.
Many organisations have already benefited from Plunkett’s help. Ria Crosbie, chair of Felsham & Gedding Community Store, Suffolk, said: “When we found that the shop and Post Office was closing, we felt we had to do what we could to keep it open. They are a vital lifeline for many of our villagers, especially for many of our elderly residents.
“Plunkett have answered, where possible, every question we have come up with. Their support kept us going when we really thought we had no hope of getting the project of the ground. I can’t praise Plunkett enough. The help and advice once we got up and running has been invaluable and is a reassurance that we are not alone.”
Plunkett’s head of engagement Harriet English said: “Plunkett is very proud to be a 2019 grant beneficiary of the Prince’s Countryside Fund. Plunkett and the fund have a longstanding relationship and shared values that always puts support for creating vibrant rural communities at the heart of what we do.
“It is fantastic to be working alongside the fund in our centenary year and to recognise together how community businesses have been playing a vital role in tackling loneliness, poverty and social isolation to those in rural communities.”
Claire Saunders, director of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, added: “The Fund is proud of our partnership with the Plunkett Foundation and look forward to the greater impact we can have working together to support rural communities to thrive.”
To find out more about the programme call the programme advice line on 01993 810730 or visit https://plunkett.co.uk/