More community-owned businesses, such as shops and cafes, will be given help opening in churches across the UK thanks to new funds.
Plunkett Foundation, the charity for rural community businsses, is joining Allchurches Trust to provide the resources to help churches work closely with their wider community so more new community-owned and run businesses can co-locate and operate within their premises.
The charity has received £200,000 in funding from Allchurches Trust, to enable a specialist support service to provide the bespoke advice and support needed to encourage new community businesses to thrive in places of worship.
Community-owned and run businesses, such as libraries, shops and cafes, are already operating in a number of churches across the country. In addition to helping communities develop new services where there is a proven need, community businesses also help address a range of issues including isolation, loneliness, wellbeing, work and training.
One of the biggest challenges facing community businesses is the lack of availability of suitable premises. Plunkett is leading on a wider Places of Worship campaign which aims to highlight the further potential of faith buildings to host these businesses.
Plunkett CEO James Alcock said: “There are already many examples of successful community-owned businesses operating out of spaces within places of worship – but there is tremendous potential for more of this to be done across the UK.
“This funding from Allchurches Trust will make all the difference and will open the door for many community businesses and places of worship to work together and bring vital services and social benefits.”
Allchurches Trust is one of the UK’s largest grant-making charities and gave £17.8 million to churches, charities and communities in 2019. Its funds come from its ownership of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.
Chairman Tim Carroll,said: “We have seen during the coronavirus pandemic the strength of churches in understanding and responding to the needs of their communities; tackling verything from food poverty to loneliness and wellbeing. They are often uniquely placed to work with local people and are a beacon of hope for so many.
“Supporting local businesses through the provision of premises is a win/win; placing the church even more firmly at the heart of the community and encouraging sustainability – both for the place of worship and the people it serves.”
The Places of Worship Campaign is an alliance of organisations and individuals including: The Church of England, Churches Conservation Trust, Allchurches Trust, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), Architectural Heritage Fund, Arthur Rank Centre, Methodist Church, National Churches Trust, Historic Building Alliance, with others joining and supporting the campaign.
For more information on the campaign and the support available through Plunkett to help open community businesses in places of worship visit: https://plunkett.co.uk/worship-home/